Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I had been feeling poorly for several days, with a sharp headache that felt like a lightning bolt striking the left side of my head. Oddly, the skin in that same area was sensitive to the touch. Then I developed an incredibly painful earache. I thought it was TMJ, brought on by grinding my teeth when I sleep, a problem I've had occasionally in the past, but never with such force. But then I developed an odd skin rash, again on the left side of my head and face, and that's when I went to the doctor. She diagnosed shingles, a common but extremely painful reappearance of the chickenpox virus, typically brought on by stress and exhaustion. Hmm.
Now I am in bed, my face swollen on the left side, and incredibly ugly. I can't really open my mouth for the pain and swelling, and the occasional lightning bolt of pain still shoots through my left ear, causing me to spasm in agony. But the good news is that I have excellent Bolivian colleagues here who can run the program just fine in my absence. The students by this point are well-established in their routines of language study, coursework, and service, and are developing relationships in their fieldsites with local people. All of this means that the program has reached the point where it requires much less intervention on my part than it did at the beginning, so my illness won't impact things too severely. And the students are off on a vacation trip to Toro Toro with the folks from Bolivia Cultura on Thursday. Hopefully by the time they return on Saturday night, I will be well enough to resume my duties.