Today, during a health lecture about shots and vaccinations and rabies, I almost fainted. Seriously. First I felt like I had a very very mild stomach ache, then I started to feel light-headed. Then the light-headedness began to get worse so I told the girl sitting next to me that I didn’t feel well. I started breathing more deeply but it didn’t get better. After that my eye sight started to go, which didn’t return 100% for about one minute. As soon as the eye sight started to return, my hearing started to go, though as soon as my sight started to come back I wasn’t really worried anymore because this has happened to me once before when I fell off a horse as a child. As the hearing started to come back, or really at some point in the process (I don’t know because I couldn’t see my own face) I turned extremely pale - “white going on green” from what the nurse said. Crazy! It’s called a vasalvagal reaction, and it happens because the muscles surrounding the arteries clamp down because of various environmental (but really psychological) stimuli. Mine was nervousness surrounding the very unlikely possibility that I would need a very painful post-exposure rabies vaccine. And it turns out that my initial fear was actually unfounded because they don’t do those painful shots directly into the abdomen anymore, just a regular shot in the arm. Or rather, a series of two regular shots in the arm. Big deal.

Well, I’ve always know that normal pain to others is extreme pain for me, so I’m not really surprised that I had this sort of panic-attack-like reaction to the anticipation of pain.

I’m sure I’m going to feel a lot of pain these next few years. I will get bitten by mosquitoes, I will get sick, I will get sun-burned, I may get bitten by a snake or spider or other wild animal. I will get too cold and I will get to hot, I will get too wet and I will be just generally uncomfortable. But big deal, really. It will all pass eventually, and though I may be miserable in the moment I know that it will have to end eventually. That’s what I tell myself whenever I get a cold and I can’t remember exactly how it felt to feel well: “I will feel better eventually”. It is so true. And it will all be worth it.

The Peace Corps people told us all to write down reasons why we want to be in the Peace Corps so we could look at them at a later date when are patience is being tried and our commitment tested. My reason simply was “it is the best choice for me at this time”. Now, this includes a nearly endless list of pros and cons which I may write out eventually, but all I really have to remember is that I have more to learn here, more to gain, more things to experience, more fun to have, more challenges, and more wonderful moments than I could ever think of having spending the next 27 months in the states. This is definitely not to say that I don’t enjoy all the things that I have back at home, nor that I think I’ll make better friends here or anything like that, I just believe that the package deal of Peace Corps Guatemala so far outweighs the package deal of California. And I think that’s all I’ll need to remember when those bad days come.

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