Archive for August, 2009

A Surprise Interview and More

August 26, 2009

It’s funny that I mentioned how the interview is a minor thing you have to do in my last post. As I was driving to Indianapolis on Friday to see my good friend Joe, I got a call from the Chicago PC recruiter. The interview process changed. Since I am in an in-between spot, they needed to interview me again. At this point, I really wasn’t surprised when I heard the news. I kind of expect things not to go in a linear fashion, and PC keeps meeting my expectations!

So I did that on the phone yesterday. The questions were pretty much the same as the first interview. But it was pretty cool just to interview over the phone. I had never done that before, and it’s advantageous in several ways.

The main thing on my mind has been the medical packet. I have made some good progress lately:
-Had my vision appointment and got the form for glasses completed
-Picked up my dental paperwork and original x-rays
-Traded emails with a PC Nurse regarding the heart stuff
-Scheduled a cardiologist appointment for next Tuesday

The significant thing here is that I could be done with all the visits/paperwork next Tuesday! I’m not completely getting my hopes up, because I might miss something or have to go back again later for clarification, but it would be huge if I could have all the visits done within a month of getting the med packet.

Right now the only bottleneck I have is the receipt of my medical records. I need to call SLUCare (they called me today) about my records, which I hope to receive before my appointments. Other than that, my only worry is getting everything submitted correctly the first time so I don’t have to endure an extra wait.

Until next time, reader, when I will shower you with the gifts that are the details of my medical journey…

I’d Like to Make an Appointment

August 20, 2009

You know what I like about this part of the Peace Corps application process? The ball is back in my court!

There really are only two times the ball is in your court when applying. The first is filling out the application materials. The other is completing the medical work. Sure, you could consider the interview something you actively do, but to me it’s kind of a minor step.

So far this week I have made some decent progress. On Monday I contacted SLU and SLUCare to gather medical records. I filled out both their request forms and mailed them on Tuesday. I also called my dentist’s office. I dropped my paperwork off on Tuesday and they completed it the next day! I went back to grab it, but they had gone for the day. So I will pick that up soon. Since I had a cleaning/xray session in May, there was no need to do another examination. Wednesday I scheduled a physical with the doctor Ross recommended. I also emailed Peace Corps with some questions. Today I set up a vision appointment with a new optometrist. The last thing I need to schedule is the cardiologist visit. I figured that visit is the most involved, so I want to be the most informed before I schedule it.

Now I just hope that SLU is able to mail me my immunization history and all my heart docs!

The Medical Packet

August 17, 2009

healthOkay. Here it goes. I am going to write about the part of the Peace Corps process that everyone says is the most challenging. Get buckled into that computer chair for a riveting read.

First, let me document a couple dates before I forget them.
August 3: Received Nomination
August 4: Date on my Medical Packet, Day I realized my mailing address had defaulted back to my parents’ address on the PC website
August 11: My parents receive my medical packet
August 13: I receive the medical packet

What’s in the packet? A Washington-DC-addressed envelope, a Dental Evaluation folder thing (I’m assuming it’s included as protection for the xrays you must mail back), a guide to completing the packet, reimbursement forms, and the medical/dental forms themselves.

Things to gather/get done:

Immunization history
Physical with EKG
Cardiologist visit with ECG
EKG, ECG, Holter Monitor records
Dental Evaluation with X-rays
Vision Evaluation – must have 2 pairs of glasses

My friend Ross advised me to contact SLU for the immunization history, which I did. I’ll be filling out the permission to release info form tonight and mailing it in. The same goes for the EKG, ECG, and Holter.

Outlook:
When I opened the packet, I was overwhelmed. I felt overwhelmed for several days. Last night I strategized what I would do today in the narrow window of 4:00 (Go Home Time) and 5:00 (Medical Office Close Time). After doing that, I felt a bit better.

Now I feel pretty good. After calling my dentist’s office, they will provide the xrays and fill out the paper work after I drop it off tomorrow, for no fee! So I don’t even need an appointment there. I also have a path forward on gathering the records.

If I didn’t have any heart issues, it would be much simpler. All the EKG stuff you see in that list is because I have heart palpitations. Unfortunately, I had to mark it as an arrythmia on the Peace Corps health form (it didn’t really fit anywhere else). Although I think what I have, preventricular contractions (PVCs), doesn’t really qualify as an arrythmia. As long as it is asymptomatic (which it is, except for the occasional “oh my God” feeling of a heart palpitation), I should be fine to get in.

The cardiologist appointment could get pricey. I learned that I could possibly do it at a Federal Facility (VA) for free though. So I need to get an estimate of what all that would cost and see if I’m willing to do the extra work to go to the VA.

The physician, dentist, and vision should not be a major problem. These are things I need to get done anyway. I’m the kind of guy who puts that stuff off for a bit too long, so this exercise is actually good for me.

One hurdle I might face is blood pressure. If you’re wondering how a 23 year old guy who runs 20 miles a week could have high blood pressure, I’m with ya. But when I gave blood last week my blood pressure was 142/80 I think. My problem is that I often get nervous when they take my blood pressure, which is called White Coat Hypertension. Another reading a few months back at the dentist’s was 120ish/70. During the blood drive, my nerves were on high alert. At the dentist’s, I’m fairly comfortable. But if someone measured my blood pressure on a Saturday morning in my jammies, it would probably be 110s/mid60s. If I get a reading in the 140s, I could be marked as having high blood pressure, which requires a 3 month PC holding period (and several “normal” tests to disprove high blood pressure). Do you have a similar reaction to the tightening of the armband to the point where it’s uncomfortable, followed by several highly noticeable beats of your own heart? I just don’t like it.

Okay, that’s enough for one night. I need to go fill out some forms!

You killed 1,034 lbs of food. You carried 200 lbs back to the wagon.

August 11, 2009

untitledDid you ever get that line while playing Oregon Trail? The excitement of a bit of violence in an otherwise educational game gets the best of you. I was always amazed that those pioneers could carry 200 lbs back to the wagon!

There have been a couple incredibly minor things that happened this week in my PC journey, not unlike Zeke suffering a snake bite in aforementioned game. The first thing is the trouble I’ve had logging in to the Peace Corps toolkit. My password never works (I have to get a temporary password every time). Then, my medical packet was mailed to my parents’ house. Not the end of the world, but I want to attack that thing! The final thing is that my service site will be shutting down for a month and a half. That makes me feel even more fortunate to have been nominated for business, as I would have been left hanging with 23 hours out of 30 completed on my ESL requirement. As long as only small things go wrong, I’m fine!

Other things going on in my life right now:
-Several scheduled days off coming up
-Trip to Indianapolis to visit a friend
-Trip to Cleveland over Labor Day
-Trip to Chicago to visit a friend
-Jury duty (!) sometime this fall

In my next post I’ll detail the medical packet and its repercussions.

Why, August! You Shouldn’t Have.

August 4, 2009

Caucasus region (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) from space

Caucasus region (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) from space

I got nominated! I received a nomination for business advising in the Caucasus region, departing in September 2010. All of that is highly tentative, but it’s miles closer than I was over the weekend!

The nomination was a surprise to me. I really thought I would have to wait and get the ESL hours done. Apparently I was the only one the Chicago regional recruiter was able to nominate, so it was pretty competitive. I feel really fortunate to have gotten the spot. Of course it feels even sweeter after first tasting the disappointment of not getting nominated.

My next challenge will be the medical packet. Wish me luck…

Hello August

August 2, 2009

When I talked to the recruiter last week, she was really excited that I have been volunteering. She made it sound as if there were a handful of non-French/non-Spanish business opportunities which I’ll be in the running for. I would be thrilled, surprised, but thrilled, if I got one of those nominations. That would mean I could get started with all the medical tests right away, instead of waiting to gain 30 ESL hours, get nominated, and then get the medical stuff.

She told me if I don’t get the business nomination, then there would almost positively be an ESL spot for me once I get my hours. That is still their highest need.

I am very excited! If I had to bet, I think I will get nominated and it will be ESL. All of this activity comes at a good time for me mentally, as I have been thinking about my future a bit and dreading the idea of grinding for another year. My two closest friends at work both seem pretty close to leaving, which makes my pangs worse. I can’t decide if I will tell them about it whenever I get nominated! I haven’t told anyone at work about my Peace Corps dream.