Pemba is full of mysterious things; some which are invisible until you become very intimate with them. Like the tiny creature that crawled onto my baby toe and decided that building a home underneath would be a good idea.
I knew something wasn't quite right with my toe over the weekend, but it seems like in this town, everyone has some little complaint and blames it on Pemba. But when I woke up on Tuesday morning and it hurt to walk, I decided that I should at least look and there was a small brown circle, with rings like a tiny tree trunk. After a quick consultation with the doctor at the Foundation, I learned that this is a very common occurence in Pemba as certain trees have flowers that are the temporary homes of these insects until they move onto greener pastures, like my foot.
On my second visit to the clinic in two weeks, I again waited for the doctor and exercised my brain to explain in Portuguese what was going on. He immediately recognized it and explained that these microscopic critters can enter even with closed shoes. How that is going to work in a world where I spend half my days on the beach is still unclear.
But I was taken into the "operating room" where the head nurse attempted to remove it with a needle, with the helpful advice from two other staff yelling about how to do it and the doctor chiming in. When that didn't work, another doctor came by, along with one of the jack-of-all-trades staff. I have watched enough medical dramas to know the procedure of preparing your surgeon's table. So when the man approached me and pulled out his wallet to remove a toothpick and what looked like a deconstructed Swiss Army knife, I began to wonder what was in store. This was also where I began asking for my mom, yelling out "is it sterile?", and joking that I should have sold tickets to the show.
They began deliberating the best procedure which seemed to be dig with various instruments but in no language are hearing the words "ay, e muito grande" "hey, it's really big" very reassuring.
But after endless digging and staring the at the ceiling that looked like it was going to collapse in on top of me, it was removed with a lot of fanfare. I was presented with the piece of gauze as you would show a baby to a new mother and stared face to face with the creature's home, a bit smaller than a kernel of corn. I was quickly doused with iodine and was assured that it should heal up well.
I have now made friends at this clinic where they call out "Elisabet, Elisabet" and they loved and were surprised by my Portuguese so I figure friends in the medical field in this area is beneficial!
Now I am one white worm home lighter and hopefully can stay that way for a while!