I want to forewarn. This story is disgusting, embarrassing and gross. If you somehow hold me in high regard, or have a light stomach, stop now.
I have been very fortunate so far to not really get sick in Ethiopia. I am one of the few. This is a tale about me not quite getting sick, but close enough.
I am grabbing lunch with my good buddy Alex in Addis Ababa. We are stopping at a restaurant to get fatira. A delightful dish of eggs, shaped like a pancake, topped with honey. We order, nothing out of the ordinary. I feel a fart coming on. As mentioned in earlier posts I fart a lot in Ethiopia. This wasn’t a fart. It was a full on shit. Ah man. I go to the bathroom to make sure the warm oozing in my boxers isn’t just a toasty fart. It wasn’t. I come back and explain the situation to Alex. He’s understanding, he’s shit his pants before too. I go back to the hotel, throw away the boxers and try to move on with my life. They tell us in training everyone will shit their pants, we all nervously laughed looked around and said not me. While all thinking, hoping it’s not me.
Three days later all of the people based out of the city Jimma are headed on a plane from Addis to Jimma. It’s a quick 30 minute flight (8 hour bus ride). The crew of about 15 Peace Corps teachers are on the bus transporting us to the plane. I want to reiterate here I felt fine and never at any point felt sick. But, the circumstances repeat themselves. I feel a fart coming on while weaving through the tarmac. I feel the familiar warm trickle just below the birth mark on my left butt cheek. Son of a bitch. Simultaneously, my good buddy Alex lets out a silent but deathly fart himself. I am as red as a cherry, thinking my shit is stinking up the entire bus. I am internally panicking. My friend Nora asks if I’m okay. I give a meek, yep, doing swell. Not only have I shit myself about to board the plane, I am commando. It was after an unexpected 3 week trip to Addis Ababa and I was already down one pair of boxers. I had only brought 3 pairs total. I am about to board a plane with shit in my jeans. Son of a bitch. New problem, lets not let my personal raw sewage seep down my legs. I clench the cheeks and make the quickest socially acceptable b-line for the bathroom in the back of the plane. I do my best to clean up the liquid goo from myself. I take my seat next to my Julien Joy, another friend of mine. I have a picture on Facebook of me in the middle of him and his partner Nora, Julien giving me a smooch (This picture is a microcosm of my relationship with my favorite couple). I don’t mention a word to Julien. I’m not embarrassed easily but defecating myself did the trick. Julien and I do a crossword puzzle together during the flight. He is completely ignorant of my situation. We land, I change immediately at the hotel.
The next day I head off to Mettu, a 9 hour bus ride west from Jimma. I am petrified history will repeat itself but I arrive in Mettu with a clean bill of pants, if not a bit bloated from holding in any and every fart. I am in a dingy hotel sleeping soundly. I wake up in the middle of the night bewildered. Am I dreaming? This can’t be. My sanctuary, sleep, dreams, sheep jumping over fences, fantasies, has betrayed me. While sleeping I pooped myself again. The electricity isn’t working. I can’t even see the disaster my body created. I take off the boxers tie them off in a plastic bag and wipe myself down with baby wipes. Luckily my mom and her friends have been wonderfully supportive of me and have decided I need a life time supply of baby wipes in Ethiopia. I’m not complaining. Sitting next to me now are literally 8 packs of Charmin Fresh Wipes and 1 pack of Assurance washcloth baby wipes (I’ve wondered about these, why the heck does anyone need a baby wipe the size of a rag? I do, I use them in between shower days [I shower once a week] but my niche seems pretty small). Now my sanctuary is shattered, nowhere is safe from my shitstorm. The next day I call the Peace Corps doctor. She asks me a few questions, do I have a fever? No. Do I feel poorly? No. Am I sexually active? My right hand says yes. Well she says, we can’t do much for you. You might have a stomach bug but it’s not too bad. I am talking to her on a sweltering bus on the way back to my town, Lalo. I lose my temper at the poor Dr.Wuhib. I am an adult human being I have to be able to control my own shit. Dr.Wuhib says I can come back to Jimma for a stool sample. I hang up in disgust. I had just left Jimma a 12 hour trek. I’m defeated.
After returning home to Lalo I prepare myself by wearing a pair of old khaki shorts to bed. Remenants of the dress code at Palm Beach Gardens High School. Sure enough that night I wake up to the warm sensation in between the cheeks. I’m ready this time. I tie up the shorts in the bag. Wipe myself down and hit the hay. Dr.Wuhib calls the next day to check up on me. He suggests using some Imodium. Of course, why didn’t I think of that. Well, maybe because I’m not a doctor. I have plenty in my Peace Corps medical kit. I take Imodium for the next three days and don’t have a bowel movement the entire time. By the time number 2 came calling again the bug had passed.
That’s my story of pooping myself 4 times in a week. I kept the jeans, not the boxers. I’m a more humble man for this experience. You’re only one bug away from losing your most basic facilities.