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‘The calzones… betrayed me?’

  • Life

On Wednesday, I went out to dinner with my colleagues.

The evening started off well enough, and I had a good time just catching up. I had commuted to the northern part of Singapore; an area I don’t really go to. Thai hot pot was the food of choice, with four different soups and an 80 minute limit that was loosely mandated. There were free-flow drinks too, and I had three — maybe four — glasses of one of my favorite beverages (Thai iced milk tea).

While we were walking around after the meal though, maybe an hour after my first glass of the tea, I felt a familiar pit of anxiety in my stomach.

(Panic attacks aren’t new to me, and I have a few known triggers — though sometimes attacks come and go without me knowing why: my period, pain, crowds.)

Turns out, this time it wasn’t any of those, but food poisoning instead.

See, the thing is, I’ve had literal nightmares about this.

I have an aversion to public washrooms (though I’m hard-pressed to find anyone who would say that they love them), and I’m self-conscious and awkward enough to not want to draw attention to myself.

That evening, I threw up, then had the runs in two separate public washrooms. The throwing up wasn’t the worst, in any case; it was in a new-ish building and the washrooms were new. At that point, I still wasn’t suspecting food poisoning. I was feeling pretty full though not to the point of stuffing myself, and I thought that maybe I’d overdone it.

Then, as we all walked over to the train station and deciding on how we were getting home, I was hit with a churning stomach. My Grab car was arriving in three minutes, and I had to awkwardly wave goodbye to my colleagues as I pointed generally to the public toilet within the train station.

When I got inside there, I was horrified to realize a couple of things:

  1. There were three stalls – one was a squat toilet (we still have those?!) and out of the two seated toilets, one was filthy and wet all around
  2. There was no toilet paper dispenser in individual stalls. The paper rolls were kept outside, on the wall perpendicular to the stalls.

I didn’t have time to grab a lot of toilet paper; only enough for a quick wipe on the seat before I hovered over it just in case, and for two wipes. Needless to say, that wasn’t enough. I could hear that there were other people coming in and out of the washroom, so I was in a (literally) sticky situation.

All told, I stayed in there for about 35 minutes, waiting in between people coming in and out to get more toilet paper, flushing at least three times as my stomach churned more.

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