It’s amazing how little acts of kindness exists everywhere.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday were difficult for me but these little acts of kindness encouraged me to be positive.
I woke up at 4am on Tuesday morning with excruciating abdominal pain. I tried to suffer on my own for about 30 minutes, but it wasn’t getting better so I called the Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO) on duty. After talking to the PCMO, we waited for a couple of hours for daylight. When the PCMO called me back in a couple of hours, my pain was slightly alleviated but still concerned her so I was told to come to Phnom Penh to see her right away.
It was around 7am. I went down to tell my host mom that I need a tuk tuk right away to go to Phnom Penh because I’m hurting. Not only did she call a tuk tuk driver, she also called my host cousin who is also my neighbor and coworker. My host cousin came to my bedroom and tried to communicate with me in limited English to see how I’m really hurting. She also wanted to know if I can go alone to Phnom Penh in my state. It was so nice of her because I know she’s really busy.
After I changed and packed, I went downstairs to find my Health Center Chief sitting in front of the house. I had called him saying I can’t come to work, but I didn’t think he’d show up to my house to check up on me. He even wanted to feel where my pain was and tried to diagnose it. He waited with me until my tuk tuk driver arrived.
The tuk tuk takes me from my village to a nearby town, and torrys (minivans) from nearby town takes me to Phnom Penh. Torrys usually leave early in the morning, and by the time I would get to the town, I might be slightly late. As we draw closer to the town, the tuk tuk driver said he needs to take a back road and go further in order to catch up with some torrys… and he did! He literally tracked down the torrys one by one until he found one that had space for me. He also said he didn’t have change for my 5,000 riel ($1.25) so he said he won’t take the money. I gave him the whole 5,000 riel because he was so helpful. (I’m seeing him again today, and he said he won’t take money because I already gave him extra)
Then, I got onto the torry. As usual, the people in the van wanted to know what country I was from so we talked a bit and became friendly. At the rest stop, this older gentleman sitting in front of me says in English “Hey Phum Mia (Myanmar), we stop here for breakfast. Come eat.” I wasn’t in the mood for eating, but appreciated the company. I ordered a coffee. We had casual conversation in broken English and broken Khmer. When it was time to pay, he paid for my drink! I tried to pay for myself but he wouldn’t accept it. He says I’m a sick person and needed energy to go to Phnom Penh.
When I arrived to Phnom Penh, they dropped me off right next to a tuk tuk. The tuk tuk driver offered me a decent price and took me right over to Peace Corps office. Everyone was just so nice that the horrible pain and nausea I was feeling was bearable.
The rest of the day went well. I did some medical tests, ate tasty and unhealthy American lunch, talked with some Peace Corps people, and headed back to my hotel room. Surprisingly, I ran into a fellow Peace Corps volunteer. We were both in “I’m so exhausted and I just want to wallow” kinda state, but we decided to take the opportunity of being in Phnom Penh and go out for some delicious Korean food. It was so worth the trip because Korean’s my favorite and I’ve been missing it for 3.5 months now.
The next day finds us two walking around for breakfast and last minute shopping before I head to the Peace Corps office. I got some more lab work done at the office. The Peace Corps Medical staff is amazing. Later, my Peace Corps friend and I grabbed some Mexican lunch afterwards and did more last minute shopping. At that point, I was literally shopping like a ninja. I also realized I was about to be late for my Torry back home so I decided to walk…in the heat…with 3 heavy bags…while hurting.
When I got to this big complex/lot, I didn’t know how to go inside. It was so huge and so crowded that I became really nervous somehow. I called the Torry driver to say I’m coming and I needed to go with him because I live in his village. However, I couldn’t understand his directions so I was stuck on the side of the busy street completely lost. It was sooooo hot and my stuff was sooooo heavy that I just felt like crying.
Fortunately, I ran into some policemen. I asked if they know English, and it turns out one did! He talked to my torry driver for me and relayed the message to me. I kept on walking towards the direction of where the torry was supposedly park.
Thank God, the torry driver was on the lookout for me too! He came to get me and also helped me with my stuff. He was so nice towards me even though I pretty much delayed his trip. The way I looked when I got onto the torry was equal to how a person who just found oasis in the desert would look. The feeling of getting out of the heat, sitting in the AC, and being able to drop my heavy things was amazing.
As the torry was departing (since they were just waiting for me), they stopped by a street-side stand. The woman who was sitting in the front passenger seat bought me Iced Milo! She wouldn’t take my money either. That Milo definitely made me feel better too! They stopped 2 other times at a bread place and a corn place too, at which point, I just started saying I was not hungry.
The driver literally dropped me off in front of my house, where my host family and other neighbors were sitting around waiting for my arrival. It was such a nice feeling of coming home, even though I’ve only called this place home for 1 month.
I'm so appreciative of my family and friends near and far who knew about this situation and keeps sending me encouraging words.
The pain was so bad at times, but having such kind people in my life keeps me going, that’s for sure. Awkun charran, teang ah knia. <3
P.S. My pain was potentially caused by the stones we just found in my kidney and gallbladder. For now, I keep a daily blood pressure and pain diary. I'm still in pain, but probably like 2 or 3 out of 10 so it's bearable. Peace Corps Medical Staff in Cambodia is also talking to Medical Staff in DC so I'm waiting to see what they recommend. Worst case scenario: taking out my gallbladder in Thailand.