What an out dated post... oh well!!!
So, it was sometime in the middle of March. All was going well, I was watching a movie and couldn't get to sleep, because of what I thought was a little stomach ache. Well, the fear came on strong when several hours later, the little stomach ache changed to some of the worse pain I've experienced and it was certain I wasn't getting to sleep that night. My phone wasn't working and my friend and convenient neighbor, Steve, was staying out on Ika Lahi consulting for the Tonga Development Bank.
Panic set in a bit realizing that I wasn't able to get a hold of anyone. I was nervous. Finally, around 7, A good friend here in Vava'u, Don, signed on to Skype and I was on asking him to call some folks to apprise them of my situation. The situation was that I had been reading the Internet all night and was fearing sudden death from my symptoms, but at the same time realizing I was probably just sleep deprived and making it out to be worse than it really was. Well, I can tell you, my tone must have scared Don, because within 30 minutes I had 3 different modes of transport to the hospital and the concerned phone calls started coming in. While my direct Peace Corps supervisor was on the main island of Tonga for business, other Peace Corps staff was here in Vava'u and on the case. However, it was my supervisor's sister that really earned my admiration. She was with me from beginning to end in Vava'u. She stayed with me as if I was her own family and the comfort it offered me can't be described in a blog post. I also had my best friends here in Vava'u on the wire to America, informing my folks of the situation. I hadn't wanted to worry them, thinking it might turn out to be nothing, but they are my family here in Vava'u and they did what family does, makes better decisions for you, when you're not making the right ones.
I was in the hospital for three days here in Vava'u and the three days seemed like weeks. The staff was excellent, but the facilities are sparse and if you've ever seen 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' you can imagine where I was staying. I was hooked up to a drip and provided extra strength pain medicine (not just pain pills, as per usual), and amazingly the pain subsided. In fact by the time I was leaving the hospital for the main island to see if I was going to be leaving the country, I was convinced I was fine and had just had a bit of gas. The friends I talked about earlier, were not convinced and made it very clear to me that I was going to have this checked out, outside of Tonga. So, you're wondering what was all the fuss about??? Just maybe, an Appendicitis!
I was flown down to Nuku'alofa and saw some more doctors and the Peace Corps medical staff. With no more pain from me and only my recount of what pain I had, had and some blood tests confirming that it was more than gas. It was decided that I was going to leave the country to have it all checked out. This being said, I nor the in country doctors were very concerned about it being anything serious, because the pain was completely gone. Peace Corps however, was very concerned and were taking it much more serious than I was. The doctor at the hospital in Nuku'alofa said I was fine to fly and so flights were being scheduled; Australia, New Zealand, or Fiji, which will it be? I was an advocate for Australia when it was between Oz and Fiji, but Peace Corps in Washington was concerned about the flight time to Australia and the possibility of me rupturing my Appendix. I wasn't concerned, because I was feeling healthy at this point. After my travel plans were booked and canceled, booked and canceled. It was decided finally, that Australia was the place, until it wasn't and New Zealand was now thrown in the mix. This is a fun part for me, because I gained complete confidence in my country director as my advocate. He got on the phone, telling me, "you might just want to leave the room James." He was going to squash the back and forth and make my plans concrete. Thanks Jeff! It was settled, again my destination was Australia, until a VOLCANO decided it would be a good time to form another island and the Air New Zealand flight couldn't come in because volcanic ash doesn't come up on radars and the flights come in at night. Damn volcanic ash. However, this was a minor issue, we left 10 hours later and I was on my way to Brisbane, Australia with our Peace Corps Medical Officer, Jacinta Tonga as my personal escort. Catch the Australian side of the story next post, I'm late for school...