Thursday, February 16, 2012

Health update!

So I may have a inflamed ligament along my lumbar spine. If you look at my back, however, it looks like a vertebrae has been plucked out and slightly shifted over to the right. I noticed gradual discomfort as I stretched and did yoga that finally became a very focused pain present even when I lay down. This was not okay.
I got Xrays that only concluded that I have an abnormally small lumbar spinal canal. While odd, this is my normal. To cover all bases we also drew some blood for standard tests. Im a nutty cookie, I actually like watching the doctor administer shots, extract blood, and prick me in general. Its not totally in left field since my mom is a phlebotomist and has stuck me several times without warning. Hmm, Id rather not pull this through further analysis. With hopes of my back aches being muscular, the doc prescribed a sheet of muscle relaxers and 2 labor-free weeks in village. The only result was a loopy Jessica that went to bed even earlier than usual. Two and a half months and no resolution meant another doctor visit. This time they wanted to look at my bones! So I got a CT Scan. The results came on an ordinary sheet and high resolution cd, which was the coolest 3 dimensional trip through my body. I could build a clay mold of myself based on this thing, batteries organs included!
Today I started Physical Therapy (ESTIM, Ultrasound, and massage). I think the ultrasound it really interesting because it feels like a timid massage when it is actually sending alternating compressing and refracting sound waves into my connective tissue! My ligaments and tendons are a little happier this evening.
Side note: nudity is not a touchy issue in doctors' offices in Senegal
The problem is that tendons are slow healers that take months to make new collogen. This country is testing my patience in several ways.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

More Training

After a 2 month crash course in language followed by 3 months at site, its time again to return to the Thies Training Center for IST (in service training) to get down and dirty (literally) with the real technical work we’ll be doing in village.
--giddy happy dance--

"I feel like a bunch of spiders are going to come out and insneer my body” - Frank slicing open a found caterpillar cocoon.

Tree walk: Since I am in the best sector, Agroforestry, we got out of drooling in front of powerpoints all day and went to collect seeds. Over the span of a couple hours, we collected about 8 tree species. We exhausted all means of gathering seed pods, including crouching through thorny tangles of Acacia, whacking pods down to the ground and onto our heads with rakes, and most excitingly, climbing in the tree and shaking it vigorously (see above photo of Justin Ross).

We dont stop there. All 20 of us found too much enjoyment in mixing sand, manure, and water to fill baby tree sacks! Im going to have to accomplish the same task in villages, but with less people, coordination, and general understanding. People are definitely willing to work, the trick is getting the ball rolling.

We planted about 150 trees into the small plastic sacks to the left. Again, I'm hopefully going to extend about 500 trees to three different gardens and a Moringa miracle tree to each house in my village.
Training is going to put me out of village for about 2 weeks, which seems like such a stretch, but it has thankfully been useful at least 2/3 of the time.

We were able to map out a calendar, which might be most important for our Ag group because all of our work is dependent on the seasons. We have a small crunch between now and when the "rains come" in June or July (depending on the region) because the rainy season marks the beginning of tree outplanting! Im excited for all of my potential work and all of the obstacles that are going to come along.