The Worst Day of My Peace Corps Service

Be gentle with people, you never know what they’re going through inside. Take for instance, diarrhea.

The worst day of my Peace Corps service was also the worst day of stomach problems I have ever had in my life. It was over a year ago, so I think I have given enough time to certify those statements as fact. I will relay the tale in the spirit of that day: short bursts of unbelievably horrific experiences with intermittent humorous pauses.

Two days before leaving for a conference in the capital. Up all night. Every hour. I hadn’t thrown up in 5 years. I threw up. Three times. Bad sink. Clogs. Tried everything. Epic fail. Had to take apart pipes. Knew it would be bad. It was worst. Completely drained and exhausted.

One day before leaving for conference. All better, feel great, all day. I even eat dinner with all my buddies at our favorite restaurant to celebrate. Slept like a baby.

Time to leave for the worst day ever. Six AM. -30 degrees Celsius. December. Beyond cold. I meet my fellow PCV Alex on the street. We walk together to the bus. Almost to bus. See the bus. Pause. Oh no. I say, “I need a bathroom.” She says, “We can’t. The bus is leaving.” I waddle to my seat. We wait. We leave. Stomach tightens. One hour. Stomach cramps. Two hours. Curled over, all I can see is my frozen feet. Three hours. Break. Can’t get up. Four hours. Bouncing doesn’t help. Five hours. Bathroom. Finally. I made it. The heavens open up. My stomach is empty. Six hours. Not empty. Seven hours. Much worse than ever before. Either hours. Break. Bathroom. Everything goes into frozen outhouse. Including a glove. Back in the bus. Nine hours. Bright idea: I can’t poop in my sleep. Ten hours. I can’t sleep. Eleven hours. She shouldn’t be sitting next to me. This is going to ruin our friendship. And this seat. Twelve hours. I tell her I can’t make it. We make it. Bathroom. Taxi. Walking. Stairs. Six flights. Friend’s apartment. Friend wants to give me a hug, “How was your trip?” Bathroom.