Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sickness & Homesickness

It is a well known fact that I have a terrible immune system. I have no idea why; I wish I could just blame it on bad genes, but everyone else in my family always seems to be healthy. Despite my meticulous hand-washing, sanitizing, and avoidance of anyone who looks even slightly unhealthy, I still seem to spend most of the winter months being sick. It's usually not too bad, just a cold or reoccurring strep throat; really more of an inconvenience than a full-out "stay in bed for a week" kind of illness. Of course, this illness-proneness has followed me to Palestine, and while I've built up some semblance of an immunity to the common illnesses at home, coming here has exposed me to a whole new array of germs, none of which my body has any idea how to fight.

I feel like I've spent half my time here being sick. Whenever I encounter any new sickness... BAM... I get it. Luckily, none of them have been incapacitating. First, I had a week of sore throat/headache stuff. No big deal. Then, I had one long weekend of fever-vomiting awesomeness. Kind of miserable, but manageable. But now I've come down with THE WORLD'S WORST COLD, complete with loss-of-voice, why-can't-I-breathe issues (including the whole I-can't-sleep-for-more-than-an-hour-before-I-wake-up-because-I-can't-breathe thing), and sinus pain.

Now, a few minor illnesses would be fine for the strong, persistent, show-no-weakness kind of international volunteer who jumps out of bed in the morning and kicks injustice's butt all day. Unfortunately, this is not me. I am a TERRIBLE sick person. I whine. I complain. I throw myself a pity party. When I don't feel well, NO ONE feels well, because everyone has to listen to me be annoying.

The other down side is that between the lack of sleep and the feeling miserable, I'm a grouch. I'm short with people, and I can feel myself snapping over things that wouldn't usually bother me.

The phone rings in the office next door. My coworker answers it, and then walks out of her office and into mine. She sits down and continues to talk on the phone for ten minutes in Arabic.

Someone asks me to help finish a scholarship application he's been working on.

My sweet, kind office-mate tells me that I don't look so great and asks me if I'd like him to make me some tea.
*Each of my reactions have been slightly exaggerated for effect.  But only slightly.

Cognitively, I realize that I'm being irrational, and a total jerk. But I just don'ttttttttt feeeeeeeeeel welllllllllllllll.

It's times like these that are the hardest for me here. On days like today, I just want to be home, in my own bed, with my momma patiently listening to my whining and telling me that I'll feel better soon. It's funny that for me, sickness and homesickness seem to go hand-in-hand.

During our orientation, we spent a huge amount of time talking about homesickness; when to expect it and how to cope with it. Many of the SALTers that I have kept in touch with have shared that they feel very homesick. Honestly, I haven't been homesick at all over the last two months. Yes, there have been things that I miss about the States, but I have never not wanted to be here. There has never been a time when I've thought "wow, I really wish I could go home." I love Palestine. I adore the people, I enjoy my job, and the experiences that I'm having here are incredible. But today, none of that matters, because today, I am sick, and that overrules everything else.

I know that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, that this is where God has called me, but that knowledge does little to help make today any better. So what do I do? I could push through and ignore how I'm feeling. I could refuse to acknowledge that I'm having anything less than a perfect time. I could write about how wonderful things are and how happy I am. But I'm not going to do any of those things, because none of them would be genuine. And I am nothing if not way too brutally honest.

So instead, I'm going to publish this post about how miserable I am right now. I'm going to admit that while I love Palestine and I've been enjoying my time here, today I just wish I was home. I'm going to take a quick shower, put on sweatpants, make pancakes for dinner, and watch Harry Potter. I'm going to whine, and cry, and let myself be unhappy and lonely and homesick. I'm going to give myself one evening of total wallowing. But most importantly, I'm going to believe that tomorrow will be better. I'm going to be confident that while the last few days have been difficult, I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing, and I wasn't brought here to be miserable. I will enjoy my pity party, take some Sudafed, and go to sleep. And the next time I post, it will be about some wonderful new adventure that I'm having here in Palestine.


  1. DUDE. Totally understand the connection between sickness and homesickness! I miss Canada the most when my stomach is upset, and sometimes my stomach aches BECAUSE I'm missing Canada. Please enjoy your pancakes and Potter (both make life better) and get healthy soon, okay? Can't wait to read about the next wonderful new adventure you have in Palestine!

  2. Feel better dear friend. I send a big hug, vitamin c and soup all virtually of course. But know I am praying for strength and a quick recovery. Know you are cared for by many.

    Love ya

  3. praying for you lots and lots my dear!