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:
- 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
- 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.