The other day, the worst happened. Now I don’t mean to sound all melodramatic, and I know I’ve started off a blogpost with that very same sentiment once before (in my defence, I *had* royally blocked the toilet at my boyfriends house; a house he shares with his family; a house I am obliged to repeatedly inhabit) but this time the shit well and truly hit the fan. Or, more specifically, the pavement.
It was unexpected. Aside from the gurgles of a mildly unappeased stomach in the morning, nothing seemed awry. I popped two Buscopan and off I went on my merry way. ‘My merry way’ happened to be London Fashion Week, accompanied by main gal Gemma. I say ‘London Fashion Week’ but, truthfully, we attended one show and then roamed the streets of London in a bid to get ceremoniously shitfaced. Alas, the early start, the excessive walking and the sheer enormousness of my heels ensured that ‘shitfaced’ wasn’t on the agenda for the day. ‘Shit’, however, very much was.
After an eggy dish at Bills and a few pitstops at pubs too rammed to enjoy, we found ourselves at Sketch. Me, drinking the cheapest white wine on the menu. Gemma, drinking SoCo and Coke. Neither of us drunk. Both of us very tired. Me, smelly. Gemma, not so much. Me, feet full of blisters. Gemma, floating on air. Me, rough as assholes. Gemma, fresh as a daisy. We called it a night. We popped up to the Sketch shit sheds (alternative names: ‘poop pods’ or ‘excretion eggs’) before hopping on the Central Line. The nightmare began.
We’ve all had diarrhoea. We all have. It’s one of the most humbling human experiences. Not a soul on earth has evaded the horrors of a contracting colon. The Queen? Diarrhoea. Beyoncé? Diarrhoea. Kim Kardashian? Diarrhoea. They are human, just as I am human. They have screamed bloody murder whilst perched on a porcelain throne, just as I have. Admittedly, Kim’s might not be porcelain and her tush might require a slightly bigger throne than mine but THE FACT REMAINS: we all shit. Those of us with IBS just shit more, or maybe less, than your average Joelene. We either excrete very rarely (we meet again, constipation) or all too often (ahh my old friend, diarrhoea), or we alternate between both of those debilitating inflictions. On the eve in question, the shit deities that be decided I would be receiving the latter.
My stomach started ‘going over’: you know, the feeling you get right before you excuse yourself from the dinner table and peg it, with the desperation of an antelope escaping a lion, towards the toilet. I tried suppressing it. I thought about how little time it would take me to get home. I reminded myself how wonderful it would be when I finally reached my own porcelain perch. I thought of the wave of relief that would wash over me, having successfully outrun that dastardly lion. I thought of nothing but reaching safe territory.
Turns out, the mind is not as strong as the bowel. I broke out in a sweat. My mind was dizzying from the desperate need to shit my guts out. My heart was racing. Gemma had got off a few stops back, unaware of the war being waged within me, and now I was surrounded by strangers:
“Could I shit myself on this train? Could I really let that happen? I mean, I could let it happen, quite easily, right now; but could I *let* it happen? What would these people say? What would they DO?! What would *I* DO?! Would I just cry as it happened, ensuring my fellow commuters knew that I wasn’t just wilfully and casually shitting up a storm on the seat? Would I gather it up like someone cleaning up after their dog? What the fuck would I say to the station staff? Do those seats actually get cleaned?! Will I spend the rest of my days eyeing up the red and blue pads, wondering which one shared my dirty secret? Wondering if that funky smell on the carriage belonged to my diarrhetic disaster, ingrained into the stubby fibres of these rarely upholstered cushions? WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO?!”
I hopped off the train, mere miles away from my home station. I ran about the place, desperately searching for a toilet. I found one. It was locked. I started crying. It was going to happen. I wasn’t at home. There was no toilet. And it was going to happen. It could happen right here, on this incredibly well lit platform, still bustling with people. Or it could happen in the cover of darkness.
I went towards the darkness.
I ran out of the station. Blister after blister popping like pierced balloons. I cried. I found a safe spot. It happened. I cried some more. I deployed the second wardrobe I regularly carry in my handbag. I utilised a pair of socks in a way I can’t even begin to type (I had no tissue on me, you see…). I squatted and I sobbed. I cursed my terrible bowels and their inability to function normally. I cursed the Central Line and its annoying habit of staying stationary for far too long. I cursed the locked toilet, I cursed the packed carriage, I cursed society for not embracing adult diapers. I composed myself. I gathered my *ahem* belongings. I looked around. Not a soul in sight.
Thank fuck for that.
I looked up.
There was a security camera.
It was pointed right at me.