Sunday, June 30, 2013


Newest Bots 13 PSDN members - Regina, me, and Katy! 
I spent this weekend in the capital, Gaborone, for PSDN training. While I was in Pretoria the Country Director (The Big Boss) called me to tell me that I have been chosen by fellow PSDN members in the previous intake groups and by staff to be a part of this community. I was really excited about it and proud!

PSDN stands for Peer Support Diversity Network and its main goal is to strengthen volunteer support system and increase productivity/effectiveness by providing trained volunteers (us) to support our peers in a non-judgmental manner and offering resources to contribute to positive, healthy lifestyles. With that said, we are here to create a safe and supportive environment so that our fellow volunteers can fully assess their situation and come to a conclusion on their own. Anyone can come to us and know that they will be respected and not judged while they tell us what's going on in their lives or if they need any kind of support or just a shoulder to lean on and/or a listening ear. We also have the diversity aspect of PSDN and that is really important to me. We will come up with ideas on how to integrate diversity and intercultural exchange within training sessions and just promote it overall! When I applied for this I was really hoping I'd get chosen because I felt that this was something I could do and get more experience on since my undergraduate degree was in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment. I felt that this was right up my alley and that I'd be able to get to know the volunteers, help them, and help myself by getting more experience. I really wanted to be able to support my fellow volunteers and the new, incoming volunteers in a way that I know how. So I was super excited when I was told that I would be joining as the newest group of members. I am really grateful that the staff and members chose me and am really proud to be in this group. I can only hope that I will be able to make a difference in this aspect of my service.

The training went well and I am glad to have made more friends here. We are a silly, fun group and am excited to be working with these individuals. I cannot wait for the new intake group to come in in August as we are preparing to be at their Pre-Service Training. (I can't believe it's been almost a year since my group came!) I am now the Diversity Co-Chair and am excited for that! I can't wait for more new and fun adventures! Bring it on.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Welcome To My Humble Abode!


I guess it's about time I post up pictures of my house since everyone always asks how I live and how my house is and blah blah blah. :P I've finally accepted the realization that I will not be moving to the house that I was initially assigned to because of security reasons. So because of this, I went on a crazy decorating spree last weekend. I was really looking forward to the bigger house with a bathtub and toilet and bigger rooms but it's really okay because I've come to be comfortable in this small and simple house. I mean, it's Peace Corps, I really can't complain. (Except for you damn bats!) I hope you enjoy the tour of mi casa!
Front Door. Yup, my house is set up for electricity but I don't have it. Tease.

Kitchen Door
First thing you see when you walk in.

I have my life on this table because it is the only piece of furniture I have, along with the two chairs.
Bedroom Door
Name tag from GLOW Camp.
Bird's the word!

New curtains.

Lights on my indoor clothesline.
Mosquito net is up because the mosquitoes don't really bug in the winter!
Flannel sheets for winter.
Yeah, that's a bed frame I'm using as a bookshelf.

Hung flowers in an empty corner.

The clothespins are holding up the curtains (ghetto style)
but I just bought curtain hooks. Yay!
The flowers you see in the pictures above are made 
from empty toilet paper rolls. Thanks for the idea, Rachel!
Kitchen: Water filter, spices, and no storage!
That gas canister is as tall as me!
Mommy, it's alright. There's hand soap here. Breathe...
Thanking my mom and sister for all these spices! The Nutella jar 
that I now use for silverware? Nah, I didn't finish that in a week...

Recycled peanut butter jars.

African baskets.

Good finds from Pep store.

Recycled soda cans and other canned foods.

So there it is! As you can see, I've learned to be very resourceful and I recycle everything! I have actually become a hoarder. I hoard everything in an attempt to come up with creative ways to reuse anything and everything. I keep toilet paper rolls which I make flowers out of, I keep jars and fill them with cotton or pens, and cardboard for...well I don't know what for yet but I'm sure I'll think of something! The blue bucket you see in pictures is my bathing bucket. I use less than a bucket of water for a bath! (including washing my hair!) It's crazy how much we waste in America. I hope that I'm able to take these habits home with me and be really creative and resourceful.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed the tour! And no, my Christmas decorations will never come down. Christmas all day errrrday!

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand 2008

Today and everyday I celebrate my father. Although I see him every 4-5 years, the memories that I have of him are good ones and happy ones. I don't get to see him as often as I'd like but I know that our love is reciprocated. He didn't have the easiest life and I wish I could change that but he has always been strong. I miss him everyday and every birthday, when we are to make a wish on candles, I wish that he is happy and healthy. I wish he was with me and as I get older I realize that my expectations are not realistic. I just wish he knew how much he has impacted me and my life. He wrote me a letter once, from Thailand, and in it he said that he wanted me to have a good education and a good life, to do good things for people and to have an honest job that I enjoy. He said that doing these things and raising a family that he could possibly meet one day would let him live life and die happy and be proud.

So daddy, you probably won't read this but everyday I hope to make you prouder and prouder. You gave me words of wisdom I will never forget and here's mine: Don't be too hard on yourself and don't let the past hurt you. Forgive yourself and others. Keep exercising. Stay healthy and strong! Even though many things didn't go as planned, I hope you enjoy and make the most of life.

I can't wait to see you in February. We both know 5-6 years is too long. I love you and miss you beyond words.

                                                                    Happy Father's Day daddy!  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Post-Op News!

 Surgery was a success!

I was really happy with the service in the hospital: the doctors and nurses were great! 

On Wednesday, June 12, I was admitted at noon but had to wait about 5 1/2 hours until the actual surgery. I was really nervous and anxious since this was my first (ever) surgery and I didn't know what to expect as far as pain and success. The day before was really overwhelming because I got lost in the hospital, I didn't understand people who didn't understand me, and I had to fill out paperwork in Afrikaans (mixture of Dutch, German, Portuguese, etc.) with the help of some nurses. So the day before was scary. But being able to talk to Trenton and the family on Skype, my best friends, and new friends here was nice and very reassuring. I am glad I have caring, loving people in my life.

Getting pushed in to the "theatre" (OR) as they say here.
The day of the surgery came with a good surprise! I was told by my program manager that the headmaster  at the primary school (I live on the primary school teachers' quarters) had approved the sub-district council to go into my house to install electricity! I felt like that was the light that would shine on me that day and it made me feel hopeful! Plus, heelllooooo charging my electronics, refrigeration, and lighting at home! Woohoo! The day was already starting out great. Anyway, the surgery was fairly quick. Trenton told me that with anaesthesia a person usually doesn't remember what happens right before or right after so in an attempt to prove him wrong and prove that I remember everything, I focused on really small details before I went "under." haha (Yeah Bub, I'm a brat that way.) I guess it actually worked though because I came out of surgery and I remembered everything they did: from the anaesthesiologist giving me three specific shots (one for nausea, thank goodness!) to joking with the doctor about how he made me starve for 10 hours and wanting a stack of food immediately after surgery, and to the very last seconds I heard the words, "In a few seconds you will feel very restless...Sleep well..." and then BAM, I was out. Who knows how many hours later I was awoken by a lady telling me to "Take deep breaths for me, deep breaths. Take deep breaths, honey. Deep breaths." It was really irritating because I was trying to and it didn't help that she sounded frustrated when I was trying my best considering the excruciating pain I felt whenever I'd breathe. Maybe it was the meds but I wanted to tell her to be quiet and cover me with blankets. I just remember waking up and feeling extremely cold and shivering. I mean really shivering. Then the same lady was asking me if I knew where I was to which I replied, in a state of confusion, "In a hospital with food. It hurts. I'm hungry. And cold. Food." And I fell asleep soon after. haha I guess some things don't change...?

I was soon drugged up and feeling awesome. I'm afraid that I may have addictive tendencies because the only other time I was in a hospital I kept asking for more Morphine and the nurse kept telling me I couldn't have anymore. This time I asked for more too. The pain was different, I can't even explain it. I feel like I had a really bad nose job done or something. haha Anyway, thank goodness I don't drink or smoke, right? Also, I am apparently really amusing according to the nurses, doctors, Trenton, and the family. I said some WEIRD things when I was drugged up. Here are a few examples:

  • doctor: How are you feeling Diane? Me: (with a big smile on my face) Vibrant!
  • nurse: Can I do anything for you or get you anything? Me: Get me out of here...
  • another nurse: You're looking better! Me: My bloody nose, chapped lips, and raw throat aren't cute.
  • doctor: (after looking at my chart) 49 kilos?! Do you eat, ever? Me: I will outeat you anytime. Name a time and place. Also, can my food be on my lap as soon as I am wheeled out?
  • me to Trenton: but WHY can't we take fluids immediately after surgery? Whhhyyy?? I just wait for those ice chips to melt anyway and drink it. Be right back, gotta pee. Ohhhh, now I know why.
  • nurse: (after tying the gauze piece around my head) good? Me: Yeah. Wait, is there anything on my face?
I guess I'm extra weird when I'm all drugged up. haha

The next morning the doctor/surgeon himself came to see how I was doing! He came down from his office and asked me if I needed anything. If I wanted a nasal rinse and if I was okay. He also made sure to give me the medications and explain everything to me. (Apparently, they don't give generics. Hey!) This would never happen in America. I've never had the actual doctor come check up on me days after. Then, coincidently, right after he left, the regional medical officer from the Peace Corps walked in. He drove from the office to see how I was doing and how I was feeling and called a driver to pick me up and go to the guest house. He also said he'd take care of scheduling the next few follow-up appointments for me and that I needn't worry, just to get rest. I really feel cared for here. :)

So the point is that I think I am in really good hands. For my family and friends, don't worry about me here, I am getting the care that I need and maybe even better than I would have ever had in America. I really appreciate everyone's well wishes and prayers my way! I can't thank you all enough. The support is appreciated more than you'll ever know. Just that makes it easier to cope with life away from home, to know that people are wishing good things for me and supporting all my endeavours, no matter what, makes me get through tough days. So I really thank everyone a million times! I love you guys and gals.

Hardest shower I ever took.
The conclusion is this: the doctor said everything was successful. He was able to remove all the pus that was filling my sinus cavities and he said there was so much. He was able to make an incision to drain everything and successfully corrected my septal deviation. I asked if it is possible that the symptoms come back and he said he doesn't think it will, it is very rare. So I'm hoping that this whole process will alleviate my symptoms now and in the future I will never have to deal with this again. Although I'm experiencing lots of pain in the facial area (mainly around my eyes and nose) I know it will be gone in a matter of time. I am on antibiotics, saline rinse a few times a day, nasal ointment for congestion from dried blood and mucous, and was prescribed really strong pain meds to take for a while. I think I will have one or two follow up appointments and hopefully I will be back in Botswana in no time (and then soon after to New Jersey, New York, and London!). I miss my village, believe it or not, and electricity? Heeeeyyyy. So I am okay! I have to wear this gauze pad under my nose that ties around my head because my nose is still bloody and runny but other than looking like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat when I walk out, I'm good. I'll be making a new fashion statement. 

So that's that! I'm just trying to recover and do what the doc says.  I can't blow my nose for a week (whhhyyyyyyyyyy?) even though that is the only thing I think about all day. I have to keep telling myself not to even though it's tempting. I mean, what do you do when you have something in your nose? Blow it out. UGH! I would also like to taste food again. That'd be nice. Anyway, I have a saline sinus rinse I do three times a day and is uncomfortable but not painful. I just hate that I have to squeeze it up my nose and let the water, mucous, and blood drain out of my mouth. Ugh. I also have a nasal gel I stick up my nostrils and it helps with de-congestion from the mixture of mucous and dried blood. And of course antibiotics and pain pills will be taken on the daily. I seem to be doing good so far. Sometimes when I bend over I immediately have to remember to put my head back because blood will leak out. (Sorry for the stained pillow and sheet, B&B staff! :/ )Thank you to everyone for caring and supporting me! You will never know how much it means to me. Lots of love a million times over...  :) <3

Monday, June 10, 2013


I had my appointment just now with the ENT specialist.

The past few days I have had mucous build-up, non stop runny nose and phlegm, and unbearable sinus pressure. (Sorry for the not-so-cute details.) If any of you know what that's like then you know how painful and uncomfortable it could be. The only way I can explain the feeling is extreme tightness and a migraine-like feeling of pounding and pressure but instead of one side or part of the face, it's my entire face that is aching. Although I've been on antibiotics for two whole weeks now, nothing has improved. This is very rare and odd according to the doctor. He suggested that I have a procedure done to go into my sinus pockets, through my nose, and drain out my sinuses and also suggested surgery for the correction of my septal deviation which may help with the abscess that's causing pus to fill up the whole right side of my face and does not drain. The pressure I feel in my face is intense. It hurts to stand up from lying down, to move my head in any direction, and to sleep at night because I am so congested I can't breathe. We are both hoping that this procedure will finally alleviate my symptoms and kick the acute sinusitis in the butt.

My appointment for surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. Please cross your fingers for me and hope that I could be rid of this for good! I'm kind of scared but would be so relieved if this is successful. I guess this also means another lovely week or so in this beautiful city. I can't complain about that! More good food to try and new friends to make. On a good note, met some more volunteers who came in this week. We're all staying here at the guest house and it is nice that I have people to talk to. Interesting to hear and compare what their service is like from Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, to mine. We'll be getting to know each other more this week. It'd be nice if I could get a little more estrogen up in here...I'm the only girl! haha I'm just glad I'm not sick and alone. That would have been a lot more depressing...

Thanks again for all your support, everyone! :) I will keep on updating like you ask and will let you know how I'm doing post-surgery. Lots of love...

(Amaro family: Skype-ing with ALL of you yesterday made my whole week! Love you all and thanks for keeping up with my blog! Glad to know I'm not the only one who reads this. haha)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Happy, fun thoughts.

A beautiful day yesterday, in Brooklyn.

Trying to keep things light-hearted and fun so my positive energy doesn't go away. Things that have made me happy this week.

  • Thank you to Mary Spencer (and her cousin Kate) for this!

      "Envision the struggles that the most frustrating people have. Their best nature is not allowed to come out,                because of what they live within and what they have been given. Focus on the inherent good in everyone, and remember that every bone-headed thing they do is not really who they are. Focus on love for what's behind all the dysfunction. And remember to start, and end, with yourself. When you slip and curse at people, or think awful thoughts, remember to love yourself. That stuff is not who you are. It's the world working on your spirit. Your spirit is love. So is theirs. Meditate on that, and keep coming back to being kind to yourself. Even when everyone messes up."

  • I also saw this on a facebook post from a fellow PCV. So funny. 

                How A Volunteer Puts It Gently. haha

Trenton dressed up for date night (<3) and I'm just...being weird again.
Trenton has always liked wolf pups. I never really had pets. Now I want a wolf pup. Adorable.

  • Planning to see a show on Broadway. I vote Lion King, Wicked, or Motown: The Musical. The only other musical I've seen was in 2008 in NYC and it was West Side Story. My friend and I got front row center and I almost cried. I played the music for West Side Story in Middle School and loved it so being able to experience it front row and center, on Broadway, in New York was the greatest thing, ever. So excited for my next Broadway musical! Here is a list of what's on Broadway, currently:

                           Current Broadway Musicals

  • Excited for this. (Thanks for the recommendation, Weston!) 

The Little Owl: home of the best bacon cheeseburger IN THE WORLD! (We'll see about that)

This week was weird. Felt great, felt bad, felt good again, and now I feel like crap. I'm hoping it'll go away. But there is a lot to look forward to no matter what happens. :)