My Health

Peace Corps Online: Directory: USA: Directory of Peace Corps Staff in USA: My Health

By Michael Insalaco ( - on Thursday, April 06, 2006 - 2:05 pm: Edit Post

This is an e-mail I just sent to the Peace Corps HQ. I want to share it with as many people as possible. If you have any thoughts, please write.

Please read this very carefully, it is very important. I, Michael Insalaco, was a volunteer in Mali from 01/03 -03/05. Since leaving the Peace Corps in March of 2005 I have been sick ever single day. I have stomach cramps, I crap mucus, I vomit, I have large amounts of gas, and diarrhea. I feel bad every single day of my life and I can’t take it anymore. Now let me explain, and please pay close attention.

I have Giardia. I am fully aware that Giardia is a common illness that one can contract in the US. I did not contract it here in the US; that is a fact and will never convince me otherwise. I contracted Giardia in Mali. I’m not sure how many times I tested positive for Giardia in Mali. I have requested a copy of my medical files, which have yet to arrive. I believe, if proper records were kept, I test positive 5 or 6 times. If someone were to take a close look at this file and if proper records were kept, you will notice that the frequency of my Giardia infections was increasing along with my time in country. I would test positive, I would be given the treatment, and then test positive again. At one point in October of 2004, and this is very important, I tested positive and I was given Fasagine as usual. Less than a week later I tested positive again. The doctor, Dr. Dawn, thought this was odd, seeing as I had just gotten off of treatment. She prescribed Flaygel as an alternative treatment. This was the first indication that my Giardia infection was not standard. I would go on to test positive for Giardia several times. In my final medical exam, which took place in March of 2005, I test positive for Giardia and I was given treatment. My symptoms decreased, but they did not stop. In May of 2005 I saw a doctor, approved by the Peace Corps, and he found Giardia still in my system. He prescribed a week worth of Metronidazol, 250mg, 3x daily. I took this, but my symptoms, which were now extreme, did not stop. I called the doctor and he prescribed two weeks worth of the same pills. I started taking these pills and during this time I moved from my parent’s home in Florida to California. I finished the two weeks of Metronidazol and still I had symptoms of Giardia. So I took Fasagine. I had gotten this Fasagine from fellow volunteers who had returned to the states with it. I took three doses over a two week period. During this time I changed my diet, cutting out foods that may upset my stomach. I started feeling better, thinking that all those drugs most have worked, knowing that Giardia is not normally this hard to cure. The change in diet helped, but never did my symptoms fully disappear. It only took a couple of weeks and my symptoms came back in full force. Still, I thought that those drugs most have worked and I’m just having a hard time with American food. It is now July of 2005. Still having these symptoms of Giardia I called the Peace Corps Medical Office is search of advice. I was told that it seemed that my condition was related to my service…you told me this. I was told that Corps Care, my only insurance, would not cover me in this situation. I would have to see a doctor, pay for it, file Workmen’s Comp and get paid back. This is what you told me. I did not have enough money to pay for a doctor out of pocket. Months went by….every day I was sick…every single day...I could not pay for a doctor…so I lived with it hoping to find work that offered health insurance, a tried to buy my own health insurance, but they would not except me. I was working, but they did not offer health insurance. In February of 2006 my boss asked what was wrong. I told her everything. She arranged a free visit with a doctor. He ordered lab testes, which I have to pay for. They came back positive for Giardia. He prescribed Metronidazole, one week, 500mg twice a day. I paid for these pills and took them, but still I had extreme symptoms of Giardia. So, he prescribed the same treatment for 4 weeks. I finished this a week ago. I was on Metronidazole for 5 weeks. It did not knock out my symptoms immediately. My symptoms are no longer extreme, but still I have diarrhea and bad gas, which is an improvement from vomiting and crapping mucus and doubling over from cramps. Maybe the Giardia is finally out of system or, like in the past, it has only been taken down a notch and it will return in full force. I would like to find out, but at the moment I don’t have a job and I don’t have health insurance

Now here is the part I am so pissed about. I filed my CA-2, Workmen’s Comp form, and sent you all my information. And you people do not support my claim that my Giardia is related to my service. How could you do this? Shame on all of you. I spent two years of my life working for you people, trying to do some good in this world, and this is how you treat me. My Giardia is from my service. You claim that I most have gotten from some where else, people don’t get treated and have it return. That is wrong. I have done research and there are many documented case of people with refractory Giardia. Given that I’ve test positive for Giardia so many times in country and twice here in the states, I find it a complete act of incompetence that you do not support my claim. I am not a liar. I was sick all during the last half of my service and I have not gotten better. My Giardia came from Mali. A blind retarded monkey could have done a better job putting the pieces together than what ever doctor you assigned to my case, please tell him I said so.

I will not let this rest. I am so tired of being sick. You people should have supported me. I want someone with some authority and competence to review my claim. You will here from every day for the rest of my life until this is taken care of, the press will hear about this, my Senator will hear about this, anyone who will listen, and god willing if I ever have the means to hire a lawyer…they too will hear about this.

Michael Insalaco

By CarmenBailey ( - on Thursday, April 06, 2006 - 5:02 pm: Edit Post

Sorry Michael;

Thank You for publishing your letter!

Look for help in a new place, like doctors in the field of Natural Medicine. Or go to a Health Food Store to the area of pest control and ask questions of the staff. There are numerous remedies which actually function very well. If you can't find anyshop/any herbs, I have a long list.
Document every doctor you've been to for this
condition, the reason, results, medicine prescibed which didn't work, what you paid.
Not that you will be reimbursed. PC/Labor tells
us they don't pay for herbs. But they don't tell us they don't pay for anything else either. No
matter what they told you!
See a little of my dilemma from 20 years ago in two articles in PCOL library under malaria. The name of my ebook is censored - is not allowed to leave my laptop.
Your problem is indicative of a controlled
insidious many sided evil and is only a fraction of what we see.

By Medical Rights ( - on Friday, April 07, 2006 - 7:27 am: Edit Post


I am glad you are speaking out. Medical services in general is a joke at Peace Corps. Misdiagnosis is their middle name. The Department of Labor will never pay you. Hardly ever do they process your claim. The program of FECA must be totally be reformed. Peace Corps uses the DOL to sluff off people with Safety and Health issues during service.

I served in Mali too and got Guardia six times. We had one guy in Mali who thought he had Guardia, but when he went home and went to a tropical medical center on his own, he had something much worse and had to be on Meds for six months. He had tiphoid fever and Jaundice. You described symptoms similiar. You should get checked. I know you don't have medical insurance. Call a tropical medical center and desrcibe that Peace Corps is jerking you around for service related injuries and ask them for free care. No harm in asking. That will be quicker than dealing with Steve Wienberger or ,what ever his so called name is at Peace Corps.

I don't know the state you are from. Call your Congressman.

Then call Senator Mike Dewine from Ohio and his staff, tell them you want them to investigate your case and do a GAO report similar to the one they did in the 1990's. Your case will get processed then.

Call Senator Lugar's staff member on the Foreign Relations Committee, Carl Mecham

Call Senator Vionivich on the Foreign Operations Committee and ask for his stafff member working on Safety and Health issues with Peace Corps.

Call House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, ask for his Chief of staff in his office and tell him you want a correct diagnosis for your current illness.

Call Seantor Leahy on the Foreign Operations committee, ask for his person in charge on the sub committee.

This is where Peace Corps budget is. They will have to respond or be investigated for larger crimes against its own volunteers who served them and the staff who criminally cover these cases.

Also, Call Peace Corps Internal investigation unit on wrong doing the Inspector General. Tell them you have gone to Congress with your concerns already and you would like to file a complaint against medical services and FECA's program.

Also, Call Peace Corps office of General Counsel. Call once, Don't call again, Send them fax of your case like you did in the email. Say that you will be proceed under the Tort Claims act. If you don't have an attorney, go to a local law school, drive there and interview with staff about them taking your case.

I will keep writing back, these actions will get the ball rolling.

Right Medicine for Service

By colleen blaney ( - on Sunday, July 30, 2006 - 9:28 pm: Edit Post

Mike, this is Colleen from Eckerd and London. I have been thinking about you and wondering how you are. I'm so sorry this happenend and I hope you are doing better. This is really upsetting. I would like to talk to you sometime.

By Ken Riebe ( on Wednesday, January 03, 2007 - 9:14 am: Edit Post

Dear Michael,
I was just surfing the net, trying to figure out how to get rid of my own (7 week) case of giardia and ran across your post. I too am an ex-PC Volunteer (Guatemala 1981-1983) and now working with UNHCR in Darfur. I have just diagnosed and am hoping the flagyl works.

Just wanted to say I remember my own experienc from PC Guatemala and although Medical Services did their best they didn't always get it right. I support you and hope you get better soon.

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