Friday, February 11, 2011


In Arabic there is a very popular phrase, "Inshallah." It means "God willing." It is used far more in Arabic, than the expression "God willing" is used in English. Your kid is about to climb a dangerous tall ladder? You don't yell for him to come down. You just mutter, "Inshallah, he will make it down alive." Inshallah is used for everything.
Today I turned in my Peace Corps medical papers. Inshallah, everything was turned in correctly. According to the PC, only 15% of applicants get it right the first time and have no follow ups.
Inshallah, I will be one of them.
But the doctor who signed off on my paperwork today didn't give me much hope that I would be. In fact, he made me feel like a defective check engine light.
Yes, a check engine light.
My car has a defective check engine light. For no real reason it pops on if you drive the car for more than three straight hours at a high speed. (Like I did today.) And then if you take it through a car wash, hit just the right bump, or just wait it out for 1-2 days, the light magically disappears again. Obviously, there is something actually wrong with the car that the light does this. But the car runs fine. It runs great actually! Its in good shape, gets 30 mpg, and other than a few wear and tear items (like brakes this week), has had no repairs in its 123,000 mile lifetime.
But there's that pesky little light that causes confusion and questions. Darn that little light.
As I finished up my medical paperwork today the doctor caught something strange. He noticed that some old supporting paperwork from a lab in Utah mentioned I am allergic to iodine. And sure, I am allergic to iodine. Its just not something that I ever think about or remember. But there it was on the paperwork in big, bold letters. No getting around it.
I'm not just allergic to iodine. I'm badly, deathly allergic to iodine. But who cares, right? Its iodine! It's not like people have daily run ins with iodine!
Except for people who live in less developed countries, and use iodine to purify their water supplies. People like PC volunteers!
It had never remotely occurred to me that this might happen. The only time I have ever had a problem with the iodine was when it was injected into me for a CT scan. And trust me, that was a bad, bad experience. But then, they had just put a deadly chemical in a vein headed straight for my heart - on purpose!
So now I have been wracking my brains. In all the times I have been camping or hiking, have I ever used my iodine pills?! I know I have purchased them a dozen times. But I have no memory of ever actually using them. I've been googling things to find out if my kind of reaction/allergy to iodine contrast could keep me out. The doctor fears that it might.
It is true I had a few years where I was very sick and dealing with poor medical care. Inshallah, I've made several changes and took control since then. I'm very healthy and strong now. I've never been healthier. I'm competitively healthy!
And yet, I feel like I have a defective check engine light, raising concerns and alarms that there is something broken inside, and no one will want me.
I have no Plan B. I don't know what I will do if I get rejected at this stage.
But one thing is for sure. I will smash the hell out of that check engine light.


  1. Will the PC allow you to furnish alternative water purification methods for your own use? REI has a number of them here:

    Hope your iodine allergy doesn't keep you from being able to go!

  2. It's a wonder that anyone even tries to go into the PC with ALL that you have to go through. Do you know what the percentage is of how many applicants actually get accepted?

    And as they say in Spanish - "Si Dios quiere"

  3. 15,000 applicants for 4,000 spots. I've made it past the first and second major hurdles. But I think this hurdle (the medical one) is going to be the hardest one for me.
    I was thinking "Vaya con Dios!"


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