Sunday, June 21, 2009

A side trip to Panama

First and foremost, we will sacrifice a little dramatic tension to assure all of you who know and love Russ that in spite of the distressing fact that he is now in a hospital in Panama, he is fine. I can hear Liz from half a world away..”What!?! He’s in a hospital in Panama?!?” So, for you, dear Liz, here’s the short version. He has a torn retina of idiopathic origin (meaning, perhaps, that’s just something that happens to idiots on this path?) and the plan is for him to be on strict bed rest for as long as it takes for the blood that has collected in the eye to clear so they can repair the retina with laser surgery. Could be a couple of days, could be longer. All will be well, he is not in pain, and his vision should be as it was before.

It’s been a long, crazy day and a half for me, so I will just try to answer the FAQs without getting fancy about it. Why Panama? The retina specialist who saw Russ late Friday night recommended that he be shipped out for his surgery, and Panama and Washington D.C. are where Peace Corps sends volunteers from Latin America who need special medical care. A side note on the complications of doing things here—to travel to Panama, Russ needed BOTH his passports, his Peace Corps passport and his personal passport. He left for his appointmentin Lima with neither. Ask me about that some time, after I’ve had some sleep.

What happened? On Thursday Russ noticed that the vision in his right eye was cloudy and he had an annoyingly large floater in his line of sight. There was no pain, and no traumatic event.

I’m back at my home in Huascaran, with my hermana Angelica, who knows that what is needed during times of stress is food, especially chocolate, so besos (kisses) to her, and to Kati, the director at the training center, who really did give me the shirt off her back (okay, her wool jacket), Carla at the Peace Corps office in Lima and Dr. Jorge who must have made about fifty phone calls each to coordinate everything that had to happen to get Russ to Panama to receive the care he needs.

Besos to all of you as well. I’m hoping Russ will have access to his email once in a while, as I have no other direct way to contact him. Drop him a note.



  1. Jean was right. That was precisely my reaction.

    Besos to both of you, keep us updated!


  2. Hi Jean & Russ-- A friend just sent me the address of your blog. HANG IN!!! I met my husband while we were both serving in the Peace Corps in the Philippines ('96-98). Early during our training, he ended up in the hospital (GI stuff) & a year later was sent back to the States for more medical tests. It was stressful, but he headed back to his site after a few weeks & was able to complete his service. I just wanted to send good wishes. PC is an adventure in the unexpected. I hope Russ's recovery goes smoothly.

  3. Whew! Glad to hear this is being addressed...
    Abrazos y besos de miguel y yo!

  4. We hadn't checked the blog in a while and just learned from the Goheens about Russ' eye. We're sending positive thoughts through the airwaves for a quick recovery!
    Peggy and Warren