It’s actually true!

27 02 2010

So as I wrote yesterday, the medical nurse and I had a wonderful phone call where she told me I was medically cleared.  And having been through so much in the past 16 weeks with thinking I would be through or thinking my review was all on track, just to find out I was nowhere near being finished, I didn’t quite believe.

But low and behold, I woke up this morning to an e-mail saying my toolkit was updated and then, EUREKA! I have a complete check next to my medical review.  YAAAAY!!! Feels so good today! It also may help that I was able to get new running shoes for a great price, found a gluten-free sugar free bakery in Manhattan that tastes amazing, and got my phone replaced since it was not charging properly.  So yea, so far today is great and later, Tim and I are going to try out this great new restaurant we found on Atlantic Ave (remember those cupcakes from the post below?) that has a nice pre-fix three course dinner for only $23!

Now it’s time to study some more French!!!



Medically Cleared!!!!! Finally!

26 02 2010

Yes! It’s true!!! I just got off the phone with my Nurse and she said that I am medically cleared!!!! Eeeep! I just did a victory lap around the apartment (since I’m working from home, thank you snow storm!)

So hopefully I will wake up tomorrow and my toolkit will show that my medical review is complete, and then I can get that in writing I’m guessing next week.

Phew I feel so relieved…this took so long – 16 weeks long.  Now, guess what?!!??! I get to wait again! hahaha…. yes now I will be put in the waiting pool for placement which having read some other applicants blogs recently looks like wont be coming for a little bit. Currently they are still on June departures.  Who knows when I’ll get contacted.  I just hope that I know before my Birthday 4/21!!!

Feeling refreshed, happy, and ready for a wonderful weekend!

Maybe I should celebrate by getting one of these s’mores cupcakes I discovered last weekend. They look divine!

Latest Medical Review Update

25 02 2010

I know I had decided to just wait for an update and try to not pester the Medical Nurse, but it had been 12 days since I sent in my supplemental forms so I was over being passive.  I actually got right through to my nurse!!! That has never happened before.  Unfortunately, her news was that she had to send another form to me.  This is to cover a question about migraines and whether or not I suffer from neurological side effects. Answer = NO, does that count?   Ugh…now I need to trek back to the Upper East side and pay $15 dollars to get this piece of paper filled out.  I’m going to try my best to avoid paying for a full appointment since all I need him to do is just answer a few short questions and sign his name.  Otherwise, I guess I’ll just suck it up.

Hopefully, hopefully, please God, hopefully this will be the last thing I need to send in.  I wish I could have gotten this form with all the others three weeks ago then I could have been done by now!

Good news is at least the DC office isn’t getting hit by the latest snow storm so I don’t foresee them shutting down anytime soon 😛

Still stuck in the medical labyrinth…

23 02 2010

Based on my last post, most people would expect me to be medically cleared by now, as I did.  Truth is, I’m still somehow in medical review.  After I faxed back my supplemental questionnaire, my medical hold was actually taken off for a about ten days and I didn’t really understand why.  I tried reaching out to the DC Medical office, but had forgotten about the constant blizzard they had been living in which forced a lot of DC to shut down for the past recent weeks.  I finally got an answer confirming they had received my extra faxes, but no information on why my hold was taken off or when I could know about the final medical decision.

This morning I received a toolkit update, and in my excited half asleep state (as I actually happened to wake up this morning at 5 am and then my blackberry buzzed and I opened my mail to see the wonderful surprise that I had a toolkit update) thought that I would be seeing the tell tale check mark with the message: A decision has been made regarding your medical review…etc..

But actually, I’m just under medical review again.  So at least I know that someone is looking at my file again which means it must be moving forward hopefully.  Now I will wait anxiously for the rest of the week to see that check mark appear.  I will be so relieved once I make it through medical review – it has taken so much longer than I ever expected.

– Keith

FINALLY! Some answers….

5 02 2010

So it has been 13 weeks since my medical kit was received by the Peace Corps Medical office in DC. 13 weeks — that’s roughly 67 business days. 67! I had not heard anything, didn’t see an update stating my review had began, was repeatedly told that the process takes 8-12 weeks, even when I reached out at 12 and 13 weeks the same generic message was e-mailed back to me.

Finally I went on a phone call/e-mail rampage. I e-mailed my recruiter in NY, my medical point of contact, my medical nurse (whose name I didn’t find out until week 12), a separate nurse who apparently was covering my original nurse while he was on vacation, as well as the pre-serviceunit e-mail address. Finally after e-mailing the pre-service unit with a desperate e-mail, I got a phone call from a nurse in DC who was covering for my original nurse. God bless this alternate nurse. She let me know that my nurse was again out on vacation and that she will start my review when she gets off the phone. GREAT, it’s about damn time…oi!
Then two hours later she calls back and says that everything looks fine except I need to get a TB questionnaire filled out by my doctor just to get some final details on my reaction. Then once I fax it back, I should be medically cleared. HALLELUJAH!!!!!
I was so happy to see that I had a toolkit update this morning I almost screamed in joy when I saw it on my blackberry as I rolled out of bed. So my plan is to go home, get the letter, make an appointment for my Doctor on monday, he fills out the last little form, I fax it back, and hopefully by Tuesday I will be medically cleared.
This has been the most frustrating and annoying process I have ever been through. When you first get the med packet they stress several times that they need you to fill everything out ASAP and get it back because that will give you the best chances at receiving your original nomination. Well what about when you do that, and then no one even looks at your file for 13 weeks???? Seriously, I am an overall very healthy guy, it’s not like it can take that long to go through my file. Or if you’re swamped with people that are scheduled to leave before me at least let me know that you will get around to it soon. Leaving someone in the dark for 9 weeks, then not giving any real answers for the next 4 weeks, was really difficult. I think what made this whole thing a lot more frustrating is being able to read all of the blogs of you other wonderful applicants… I think for my sanity, I shouldn’t have been checking everyone’s blogs so often. Then I wouldn’t have known that others were getting through medical clearance in 5-6 weeks, I wouldn’t have known that people with the same departure date were getting through, or that people with the same departure date – who sent their stuff in after me…. – were getting cleared. I would have been anxious, but at least I wouldn’t have felt forgotten or shafted. I guess sometimes, ignorance really is bliss…
Anyway….just seeing that little update on my toolkit has washed away all the anger and frustration and I’m super excited all over again!!!!! Really us applicants are just ragdolls that the Peace Corps gets to throw around at their whim, sometimes lifting us up, sometimes letting us fall into the dark. But overall I think they really do care about us and appreciate our desire to help. I can’t wait to see a “medical review complete” check on my toolkit (hopefully next week!)
Until then all, I’m going to go pop some bubble wrap or scream into a pillow to get rid of any last waves of the last 13 weeks haha…
A la prochaine!

Quick Update: Dental Clearance!

30 10 2009

Hello, hello! Just wanted to write a little note because I’m a huge dork and am super excited to know that I had an update on my toolkit this morning: Dental Clearance!! Woo!

Now I know I sent everything together on Tuesday afternoon so that means they have everything. I also have read that it takes a couple extra days before the system will show that they are reviewing your medical files, so I will wait patiently to see that update on my toolkit.
Isn’t it funny that even though most of us know we are going to clear these certain stages, we still get excited seeing those wonderful words written out on a webpage? Ahhh, what a great Friday!

Medical Review sent!

29 10 2009

Well, finally after a much longer timeframe than I had previously expected, I have Fed-exed my Medical/Dental/and Vision forms back to the DC Office. I know they were delivered yesterday, now I’m just waiting to see how long before I see that they are actually in the hands of my Medical reviewer. I e-mailed them to let them know I had overnight shipped my documents and asked if they could let me know when they see them. So fingers crossed they see the documents soon!

I thought I would write down some of the reasons why my medical review took so long to get in order. First, as I have written about before, I was asked to get a form filled out by the Therapist I saw once in 2006. That took forever. First I had to find the name of the Therapist I saw (thank you gmail for your wonderful Archiving). Then I was able to mail him the forms required. After that and after he and I spoke on the phone to refresh both of our memories of that distant visit, I didn’t hear from him for two weeks. So I reached out to him only to learn that he had lost the forms. Oi! Thus I needed to ask the DC medical office to please mail me a new form for him to fill out. OK, done. Sent him the new documents and didn’t hear from him for another two weeks. I finally called and e-mailed until he responded, told him my address over the phone and asked him to put it in the mail that afternoon. Finally I got them back in the mail on this past monday, more than a month after I first spoke to him.
Another hiccup in my review process was the surprising reaction I had to the TB skin test. I showed a reaction of 9mm. For a healthworker or for someone who had spent significant time in a foreign country, that would be considered a positive reaction. However, I am in the lowest risk group since I am not a healthworker, not exposed to healthworkers frequently, and have not spent more than a week out of the US. I would have needed to show a 15mm reaction to classify it as a positive. I feared though that this might raise some flags and slow my process of getting clearance, so I called my medical contact and asked her if I should get a chest x-ray to verify I don’t have TB, she said of course. So I had to set that up and that took a whole extra week. Finally I have everything back, I had a normal chest x-ray thank god, and sent everything off on Tuesday afternoon.
Now that I have sent the forms off, I have a renewed sense of excitement and relief. At least now the whole process is out of my hands, I either get an invitation or not. Hopefully I will hear back in the coming months that I have been invited because I am so thrilled about the possibility of this actually happening. I’ve been reading some great books lately to get me inspired about development work and I definitely recommend reading them if you’re waiting to leave, in the application process, or even just thinking about something like the Peace Corps. The first is Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and a co-author who I can’t remember right now…the second is Nine Hills to Nambonkaha by Sara Erdman.
Three Cups of Tea was an amazing amazing book. It was so inspiring to read and I flew through it so quickly I just couldn’t put it down. It was so amazing to see just how much one passionate, motivated person can do when they really fight for something they believe in. It has me really hopeful about starting my adventure in Africa and helping a community as best as I can. I’m afraid that I might enjoy development/non-profit work that I will continue in that field for the rest of my life. I guess afraid isn’t the right word, because it would be awesome, but I do think it would prove to be difficult in planting any stateside roots. Well that’s getting way to far ahead of myself and I should just be happy to be a part of the waiting game now.
Talk to you all (if anyone) soon!!