5-29 Health and Sanitation

We spend a lot of time keeping our bodies in good working order. I’m not talking about exercise and stretching or eating right like I would in the states. I am at a more basic level. Everything grows well here, including mold, bacteria and all forms of illness and infection.
Tool of the trade
In any given week, I will likely put at least two minor holes in my feet, legs or hands. Jason does fewer holes but does them deeper. Any break in skin is a valid place to start growing bacteria, I mean scratching a mosquito bite or a broken blister is enough to start your own bacteria lab. Our nearest neighbor got medevaced to Vila in December for Impetigo after a bug bite got infected on her foot. We are trying to learn from her experience.

I think we spend about half an hour a day playing with hydrogen peroxide and bandaids. Here is the routine: Ask the other person if it looks infected, if no feel a little relief, if yes consider the option of calling the Medical Officers. Don’t bother to call. Pull out the peroxide, iodine, bandaids, triple antibacterial ointment, athletic tape and cotton balls. Go wash the affected area with soap and water. Try to keep it clean while going back to the porch. This is often a challenge since the most common cuts are on the bottom of my feet. Dump or dab peroxide on. Try not to swear for the audience of people watching from the community store. Repeat. When peroxide only foams up for about a minute, switch to dabbing iodine. Peroxide kills everything, including skin cells. The iodine is to counteract the peroxide and keep it from continuing to burn away the skin. Let it air dry while opening the bandaid and putting a dot of triple antibacterial ointment on it. Cover the bandaid with athletic tape to make it stay for more than fifteen minutes. Re-start the process on the next hole.

I think one of those signs of a Peace Corps Vounteer is when peroxide feels good. It feels like not infected today!

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