When I spent the last week in extreme pain from stomach cramps and a potential infection, people back home asked me: “When is it enough? Huancayo isn’t cut out for you.” There was the implication that I should move back to Canada.
They think that my severe stomach cramps last week are from parasites. I'm still waiting for the results.
Here’s the medical history of my time in Huancayo since 2008:
- A biopsy to diagnose a chronic rash on my forehead caused by the burning heat of the sun at this altitude.
- Over five cases of allergic reactions to mites and the hassle of fumigating the apartment each time.
- Recurring bacterial infections, strep throat and a yellow tongue.
- Allergic reaction to antibiotics.
- The myriad of negative side effects from different medications.
- Tummy troubles from the change in food quality.
It’s difficult for my body to adjust to a new environment. In fact, there’s no promise that my body will ever adjust. Doctors take a trial-and-error approach to treating me because they don’t know what medications may be too strong for my body.
My good blogging friend and favorite shrink, Hajra Khatoon, helped me brainstorm through the predicament with the following questions:
- Will you move because of your health – is it that bad that you need to move?
- Do you enjoy living there?
- Do you enjoy the career you are pursuing right now?
- Are you happier here or will be happier back home or anywhere else?
- Are you enjoying the experience the stay is offering you — personally, professionally, emotionally?
I'm more likely to get sick from street food in Peru.
It’s easier to be happy when you’re feeling healthy, but happiness can also predict health
. At the very least, the simpler and relaxing lifestyle I sought and found here in Huancayo
helps me manage the pain by making it all worthwhile. Happiness may decrease my chances of getting worse illnesses and may decrease the time I feel under the weather when I do
end up getting sick.
Despite the struggles, I’m not ready to go back to Canada.
What’s more important to you — health or happiness?
In 1995, Alberto Fujimori, the former president of Peru, promoted birth control by actualizing a national family planning program as part of his agenda to decrease population growth and therefore poverty. The program involved universal access to reproductive healthcare and sex education in schools. Proponents reasoned that the program would lead to decreased maternal mortality rates and empower women, especially rural women who would gain the ability to make choices about their reproductive health.
The health center in Molinos, a rural town almost two hours outside of Huancayo, is right beside the local church.
The entire plan placed Fujimori and the government in direct opposition to the Catholic Church, which plays a major role in Peruvian society. At the time, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, one of the top 10 most powerful people in Peru, replaced the Ministry of Health’s sex education material with that of his own that was based on abstinence and sexual morality. To this day, the Catholic Church considers contraception immoral because the Pope says that it disrupts the natural reproductive process
. Nevertheless, Fujimori powered through with the support of the media, the international community and the public.
We’re now seeing a similar phenomenon happen in the Philippines where there is currently intense debate over the Reproductive Health bills (“RH bill”) that has many of the exact same provisions as those of Fujimori’s program in 1995. This time, the Catholic Church is sure that promoting birth control, or what they refer to as “abortion-inducing drugs,” will increase rates of abortion, which is illegal there.
In countries where the Catholic Church plays an important role, should the Church also have a say in reproductive health and sex education? Should everyone in the world have equal access to birth control? Why or why not?