Reverse culture shock
I feel like I’m carrying a screaming, squirming infant in my arms and no one is noticing. Most people just ignore it. Some let their eyes pause briefly on it, ask a quick question and turn back to their smartphones. Very few take the time to find out what I’m holding, and then I find I have no words to explain what has happened to me.
I only feel this way in big groups. I haven’t broken down crying in grocery stores or malls, the way I thought I might. I didn’t pull my blankets to the floor, prefering to sleep on the hard familiar floor rather than my pillow-top mattress. Nor did I bathe my face in the water fountain at the airport, glorying at the first clean water source I’d seen.
The outside world hasn’t changed for me. I changed. But my changes are invisible, and most people don’t have the capacity to relate.
Yesterday, I was so sick that my mom and I laid out an emergency plan: If I began vomiting or my temperature climbed higher than it already was, we’d go to the urgent care clinic.
Luckily, it didn’t come to that. I taught my mom how to make oral rehydration solution, and I drifted in and out of the Today Show. (Did you know you can make portable pies on sticks? And it’s fun for the kids!)
So now I’m desperately waiting for my medical files to come in from Peace Corps so I can see a doctor. Mom says a doctor won’t tell us anything we don’t already know, so she’s put me on a diet — nothing but chicken, rice, pasta and french bread — until we slowly introduce new foods to find out what my “triggers” are.
But I guess I’m secretly hoping for a new diagnosis. Or at least a treatable companion-diagnosis: worms, parasites, ulcer…something to explain the unbearable pain I’ve felt since coming home. Something I can DO something about without completely changing my life.
I am happy to be home in Texas. Even if I can’t eat them, being around all this salsa, queso and quacemole just makes me happy. And I love 100+ degree heat — especially when air conditioning is never far away.