Apparently, one can have too much of a good thing, although I wish this wasn’t the case. My South African internship/adventure is coming to an early end. I have thoroughly enjoyed my trip to South Africa, learned a lot about myself and South African culture, made new friends, had plenty of adventures and furthered my public health career. Sadly, this trip is coming to an end, two weeks earlier than expected. I pushed myself too far because I wanted to enjoy this experience and unfortunately I am suffering the consequences. Furthermore, a couple days after my last post, I got a cold. About a week and a half later, a sinus infection. The combination of these three things have left me worn out and my POTS symptoms have increasingly become more symptomatic. I also have these new concerning symptoms of numbness and loss of sensation in my left hand. I have tried to do everything I could to finish up with the remaining time of my internship and control the symptoms with rest, my meds and saline infusions through my port. My port has been having it’s own set of issues and I have almost depleted my stock of infusion supplies. There would not be enough supplies to last me the two remaining weeks. If I stayed in South Africa and let my symptoms progress further, I would be left unfunctional, passing out at unlucky moments, and not able to fly home. This led me to the painful realization that I would have to leave early.
I am profoundly saddened at even the thought of this early departure. I fought so hard and went through so much to be able to come here, work on important public health issues, and experience South African cultures(and see the penguins). Although this is the case, I am proud that I made here for over 8 weeks. In the weeks leading up to this trip, there were MULTIPLE times where I thought I wouldn’t even be able to go on this trip. I am happy that I made it this far and have absolutely no regrets about coming here and experiencing the things that I have experienced. I believe all of my actions were worth it. I learned a great deal about transgender issues and health in South Africa, sat in the clouds at Table Mountain, went to the OR where they did the first heart transplant, biked through Table Mountain National Park, explored the Cape Peninsula, visited the southern most point in Africa, went to Robben Island and saw Nelson Mandela’s prison cell, put my feet in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, saw lots of penguins, went seal watching, went on a safari, got two feet away from white lions without protection, pet a cheetah, fed two baby elephants, ate lots of good food, and made many new friends along the way. This was really a once in a lifetime journey and I am truly thankful for the opportunity. I have had the most amazing time here in South Africa and I hope one day I will be able to return.
Tomorrow, I will be leaving to return to Johannesburg, where I will be spending one night. On Saturday, I will be flying back to the US via London and will arrive in Newark on Sunday. I will be spending some time in the Philadelphia and DC areas, relaxing and gathering myself before the haul back to Los Angeles. Back in Los Angeles, I will need to sort out satisfying the remaining requirements of my internship and I have a myriad of doctors appointments lined up. My POTS and other health problems have interrupted my South African internship experience and I will work so that it doesn’t interrupt anymore of my life. I will use this lesson as a motivation to continue to work towards relieving my POTS symptoms. I refuse to surrender and believe that these symptoms are my life. My illness does not define me nor will I let it dictate my happiness.
I will update my pictures and post excerpts from my journal that I have kept during the last two months, once I get back to the US. I will also resume my normal Thursday postings. As always, thank you for the support.