The Medical Packet

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!

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