November came rather quickly, and now it's already almost over.
I remember the high school starting the first week of November. I co-taught a few classes.
After that, it was a blur because I had another (and longer) episode of unbearable pain in the middle of the night. It's the same one I had 3 weeks prior to this. The Peace Corps Medical Officers (PCMOs) had already told me last time that if it happens again, I'd be asked to come to Phnom Penh right away.
The way I felt that night... I don't think I will ever be able to forget that. It was so much pain. I tried to sit up, lie down, crunch my stomach, throw up, and do so many things, but it didn't help. I literally sat there sweating, screaming, and crying while being in pain. I felt so helpless and alone. I didn't wake my host family up because I knew there was nothing they could do until the morning. My Khmer was too limited. I took some pain killers and tried my best to rough it through the night.
Around 5am, I couldn't take it anymore. I also heard my host grandma moving around in the living room. I went to her semi incoherent saying I was in pain. She told me to lie down and started rubbing my stomach with tiger balm as she yelled out for my host mom. My host mom ran to ask our neighbor (who is also my host cousin, coworker, and midwife) to come see me. It was all very dramatic. Everyone was concerned, but there was nothing anyone could do.
Around 6am, I decided it was time to call the PCMOs. I wanted to wait that long because that day was Cambodian Independence Day, and all Peace Corps staff had the day off. If I was going to make these PCMOs work on their day off, I wanted to let them have some sleep at least. If I had woke them up at 1 or 2 in the morning, it wouldn't be productive anyway.
As expected, I was told to take some pain medications and come to Phnom Penh right away. I was also told to pack for a week. Basically, this happened:
9th: Helpful neighbors drove me to Peace Corps office in a hurry. PCMOs ran some tests on me. Waited to hear from Peace Corps Headquarters (Washington DC). Received permission to go to Bangkok.
10th: Flew to Bangkok in the morning. Peace Corps staff picked me up and dropped me off at hotel next to the hospital. Provided me with instructions and a phone. (My aunt from Myanmar arrived to be with me.)
11th: Consultation with 2 Peace Corps doctors and surgeon at the hospital. Confirmed to take out my gallbladder the following day. (My mom arrived from the US. My pastor stopped by for a few hours on his way to Myanmar.)
12th: Surgery day
13th & 14th: Recovering at hospital. (My aunt left for Myanmar)
15th: Discharged from hospital
16th - 20th: Recuperating at hotel. Advised to walk a lot to help heal the wounds, so I did some shopping and sight seeing here and there. (We met 2 more aunts on the 16th. My mom left on the 18th.)
21st: Flew back to Phnom Penh
22nd-24th: Recuperating at hotel and constantly checking in with PCMOs.
25th: Headed back to site (Kampong Cham province where my host family is)
It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but it went rather well! Both Cambodia and Thailand Peace Corps staff took really good care of me. I'm also very grateful for my family and friends who came to see me or reached out to me as I was recovering.
I am nostalgic because it felt so nice to be surrounded by my loved ones again and being able to speak my first language. I didn't have to struggle to make meaningful conversations in Khmer. I didn't have to think in Burmese and speak in English either. I couldn't help but start missing home. At the same time, among the people I miss, I started thinking of people from my Peace Corps community and village as well. I couldn't bear the thought of leaving them either.
I feel guilty about missing my work at the health center and the high school, but all my coworkers and supervisors are very understanding. My host family is wishing me all the best and looking forward for me to come back as well.
I'm feeling much better now and am excited to adjusting back to life in my village. (Not to mention losing the weight I recently gained!)
Thanks for the support, everyone!