Wednesday, February 24, 2010

So I guess I'm a follower :P

Hi All,

I have jumped on the bandwagon and have decided to move to Wordpress due to better layouts, more control of personalization, and a better dashboard section.

the address is the same just finished with

See you all over there!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Still stuck in the medical labyrinth...

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

Monday, February 8, 2010

Quick Update: Fixed comments section

Hi All!

I finally was able to fix my comments section, it appears that now you can post comments (I changed it to a pop-out box instead of embedded, since that wasn't showing up).

So all of you other peace corps applicants, friends, or strangers - feel free to leave some love :P

Friday, February 5, 2010

FINALLY! Some answers....

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!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Waiting, waiting, waiting....

Well Folks, it's been quite awhile since I've last updated. Sadly it's because I haven't gotten any news since November 3rd. I was notified that my medical packet had been received as of November 4th and that's the last thing that was said. It has now been 6 weeks since then and I was really really hoping that I would be one of the lucky ones like some of you other applicants out there (that got medically cleared as quick as a month after they received the medical packet.). Unfortunately that has not been the case.

About 4 weeks after the packet was received in DC I sent an e-mail to my medical contact just trying to touch base, but got a somewhat cold message back saying, "unless you have questions about something, don't expect to hear anything until you've past the 8-12 week timeframe." I mean I expected that as an answer but thought since I'm always so pleasant in my e-mails to her that she would at least sugar coat the uneventful news with some cheery introduction or warm salutation, but nope haha. Oh well, not everyone feels the need to write really pleasant and exciting e-mails I guess :)

So now I am still waiting, with no word as of yet on if I'm medically cleared or not. I really just want to get out of medical review so I can start my Placement Review!!!!!

In other news, I got a small raise last week that will be retroactive back to June! That means I will be getting a little lump sum of extra money in the next paycheck. Soooo....I decided to get myself something as a little present but really meant for when I'm hopefully serving in the Peace Corps: a new Pentax K-x DSLR!!!! I figured it would be an amazing thing to have so that I can really capture the beauty and experience I will be fortunate enough to see while in another country. Then I can hopefully get really nice prints made so that I can take my service with me anywhere I live.

Well, I'm still hoping that I can get medically cleared before Christmas and then get into Placement review for January. Who knows?! I'm just getting tired of waking up every morning and rushing to my Blackberry to see if I have an e-mail from Peace Corps showing an update to my toolkit.

Best wishes to all for a safe and happy Holiday Season!!!

Perhaps I will write a few non-Peace Corps blogs about the holidays - since the Mangam Family tends to have quite the party haha.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Quick Update: Dental Clearance!

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!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Medical Review sent!

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!!