February 2, 2003 - New York Times: Peace Corps Doctor Mae Jemison answers the question "What Was Space Like?"

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: 02 February 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: February 2, 2003 - New York Times: Peace Corps Doctor Mae Jemison answers the question "What Was Space Like?"

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, February 02, 2003 - 2:19 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps Doctor Mae Jemison answers the question "What Was Space Like?"





Read and comment on this story from the New York Times by Peace Corps Doctor Mae Jemison who treated a volunteer who had meningitis with life-threatening complications that we could not treat successfully in Sierra Leone, so finally, she called for a military medical evacuation on an Air Force hospital plane based in Germany. Just to start the process cost $80,000. When she gave the order, the U.S. Embassy personnel just looked at her. Read the story at:

What Was Space Like?*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.



What Was Space Like?

By MAE C. JEMISON, Written with Patricia R. Olsen

My senior year in college, I was trying to decide whether to go to New York to medical school or become a professional dancer. My mother told me, "You can always dance if you're a doctor, but you can't doctor if you're a dancer." I decided to attend Cornell University Medical College, but I also took dance classes. I built a dance studio in my house, and I still dance.

In the early 1980's, I served as a doctor for Peace Corps volunteers in Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa. Within the first two weeks I was there, a volunteer got sick. Another doctor diagnosed malaria, but after the man had been on chloroquine for 24 hours, it didn't look like that to me. He got progressively worse, and at 2 a.m., after a power failure in the hospital, I started rummaging around our medical unit with a flashlight to find antibiotics for a broad-based medical cocktail.

I was sure it was meningitis with life-threatening complications that we could not treat successfully in Sierra Leone, so finally, I called for a military medical evacuation on an Air Force hospital plane based in Germany. Just to start the process cost $80,000. When I gave the order, the U.S. Embassy personnel just looked at me. I was 26.

They started questioning whether I had the authority to give such an order. Yet, after being up for 36 hours familiar territory for a former Los Angeles County hospital intern I was very calm and knew what the issues were. I patiently told them I didn't need anyone's permission or concurrence. By the time we reached the Air Force hospital in Germany, I had stayed up with that patient for 56 hours. Of course, he survived.

In November 1985, I applied to NASA to enter the astronaut program, but the Challenger accident in January put the process on hold. I was finally selected in June of 1987 and reported to Houston in August. I flew on the space shuttle Endeavor in 1992. (I resigned from NASA the next year to start my first company, and in 1999, I started BioSentient.)

People ask, "What was it like"to fly on Endeavor?" That's like asking, "What was France like?" You have to smile and answer, "What part? The food? The people? Paris?"

So I ask them if they're talking about the launch itself, my job on the space shuttle or floating in space, for instance. But how would you describe floating in space to someone who's never done it? I say it's fun you get to move anywhere you want, you have incredible leaping abilities and hang time but it takes some getting used to. You have to stay close to a wall or something so that you can propel yourself.

The first thing I saw from space was Chicago, my hometown. I was working on the middeck where there aren't many windows, and as we passed over Chicago the commander called me up to the flight deck.

It was such a significant moment because since I was a little girl I had always assumed I would go into space. When I grew up, in the 1960's, the only American astronauts were men. Looking out the window of that space shuttle, I thought if that little girl growing up in Chicago could see her older self now, she would have a huge grin on her face.

Mae C. Jemison is founder of BioSentient, maker of medical devices.

Click on a link below for more stories on PCOL

Top Stories and Discussion on PCOL
Improvements needed in Volunteer Support ServicesWhere the Peace Corps Bill stands
Dodd's Amended Bill passes in SenateElection 2002:  RPCVs run for office
Peace Corps Volunteers Safe in Ivory CoastA Profile of Gaddi Vasquez
Sargent Shriver and the Politics of Life911:  A Different America
USA Freedom Corps - "paved with good intentions"PCV hostage rescued from terrorists


Top Stories and Discussion on PCOL
GAO reports on Volunteer Safety and SecurityPeace Corps out of Russia?
Help the New Peace Corps Bill pass CongressUSA Freedom Cops TIPS Program
Senior Staff Appointments at Peace Corps HeadquartersFor the Peace Corps Fallen
Senator Dodd holds Hearings on New Peace Corps LegislationThe Debate over the Peace Corps Fund
Why the Peace Corps needs a Fourth GoalThe Peace Corps 40th plus one
The Case for Peace Corps IndependenceThe Controversy over Lariam
The Peace Corps and Homeland SecurityDirector Vasquez meets with RPCVs
RPCV Congressmen support Peace Corps' autonomyPeace Corps Expansion:  The Numbers Game?
When should the Peace Corps return to Afghanistan?Peace Corps Cartoons



Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Liberia; COS - Sierra Leone; Special Interests - Space; Special Interests - Medicine

PCOL2381
32

.


Add a Message


This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: