The story below is a true one; names have been changed to protect the identity of those who were involved.
This is a story about a fairly good friend of mine and fellow Peace Corps Volunteer, Jean Jacques. Jean Jacques will henceforth be referred to simply as Jacques for the sake of this story as to help ease the heavy burden of the writer. Jacques arrived in Cameroon early June 2011 and was part of the Small Business/Education training group for incoming volunteers. For three grueling months he was put through rigorous language, cross-culture, security and technical training all of which he passed with flying colors. At the end of the three-month training period, Jacques was sent to the Extreme North region for a two-year assignment as a Business Advising volunteer.
Jacques integration into his new host community was quick, painless and quite frankly unparalleled. He was often seen giving casual low fives, fist bumps and charismatic finger points to passers-by. After a few short weeks, the movie-reel paradise that was Jacques life quickly took a turn for the worst. On a very sunny and hot day Jacques realized that he had a cut on his ankle, not a very big one just a little guy, the kind that easily goes unnoticed for a day or two. He probably got the cut while delivering a baby or rescuing hurt savannah animals or something like that, we will never know for sure.
Being an extraordinarily clean and hygienic person, Jacques treated his small cut immediately and often. Despite his painstaking efforts to keep the open wound wrapped up and sterilized, it still got infected. Unfortunately for Jacques and everyone else who had to see it, the infection kept getting worse. After a couple weeks the wound had grown much larger and deeper forcing Jacques to travel to the capital city, Yaoundé, and seek medical treatment. When he arrived in Yaoundé, some very unfortunate news was given to Jacques, this was not just a regular infection but was actually a very rare and dangerous flesh-eating bacteria that was taking over his entire ankle.
Jacques was forced to stay in Yaoundé for a couple months for regular hospital visits and medication, the wound was too serious for Peace Corps to allow him to return to his post in the Extreme North. Several weeks after becoming a regular at the hospital, he went in for a scheduled check-up. To his surprise a new nurse was working that day, one that he had not met yet. As usual, Jacques had a large and very apparent bandage on his right ankle which was made even more obvious as it bulged out of his crock.
The doctor entered the room and spoke briefly to the nurse explaining to her what needed to be done. He told her to take a swab of the infection on his foot so they could then test it and monitor the progress. The two medical professionals spoke very quickly and in French so it was difficult for Jacques to follow. When the doctor left, the nurse confidently asked Jacques to remove his shorts. Confused, he reluctantly complied. He slid his shorts off and was standing in front of the nurse in only his boxers. She looked at him and said “no, everything”. Again, Jacques was very confused, he came to the hospital to get a routine swab of his foot something that he had done many times in the last few weeks and he had never been asked to remove his pants. He thought to himself, “hey, this is a hospital, they must know something I don’t” so he went with it. Jacques, dropped his boxers and the nurse pulled out a long q-tip. Fear filled his eyes and his heart started racing, Jacques tried to explain to the nurse that there was no problem with his man area and that the problem was strictly with the foot. She was unrelenting; before he knew it she had shoved the q-tip inside of his member. At this exact moment the doctor walked in and was in shock “what are you doing” he yelled to the nurse. “J’ai dit pied, PIED!” (“I said foot, FOOT!”) Bummer for Jacques, it ends up that the word for foot in French “pied” (pee-aye) can sound a lot like the word penis “pénis” (pay-nee). It was all just a small error in communication. The nurse took the q-tip out, shrugged her shoulders and casually tossed it in the trash. Infuriated, Jacques looked down at her and said “Really, you’re not even gunna test it?”