I was wandering through Debenhams the other day, looking for the till to get an item refunded. As it happens the till was in the furtherst corner of the furtherst floor away - presumably to discourage you from taking anything back.
As I made my way across the ground floor, through the menswear to the escalator, my nose was caught by a rather pungent smell.
“Shit” I thought. It did quite literally smell like someone had had a number 2, but my expletive was actually one of panic, not a description of the stench.
As a person with an ostomy, my instant reaction, when catching a whiff of such kind, is to glance down at my shirt and clutch my bag for dear life. A quick visual and touch test revealed that the source of the stench was unlikely to be me.
But this wasn’t yet confirmed.....
There was still one more test I needed to conduct to ensure that it wasn’t me that everyone would be staring at.
The smell was now quite strong and the closer I got to the escalator the more concerned I became. The smell wasn’t dissipating. If I was in a cartoon then I imagine it would look like this green cloud above my head following my every move.
This isn’t an unusual scenario for an ostomate. I have experienced that feeling of panic several times before. Once on a packed commuter train to London - nowhere to go. You just have to sit it out and hope to God its not you.
The difference here was that although the shop was crowded, I could flee that general area - number 3 of the 4 “Have I poo-sploded” tests that I have devised.
Tests 1 and 2 consist of the visual and touch test. I had passed these, but test 3 was worryingly looking like a fail.
I was wearing a large coat with polo shirt underneath, so out of desperation I decided to deploy the final test. Test 4 is the least subtle of all 4 tests, but it is the most decisive.
I suddenly realised that if test 4 was a fail and I had to make my way to a safe zone (the toilets) and quickly - but my wife had my emergency kit safely stored on the buggy and she wasn't even in the same shop! My escape route to the safe zone would now have to include an SOS phone call to my wife.
I had to be sure, so I initiated test 4, sliding my hand underneath my shirt to feel for leaks. To my surprise and relief, my bag was still securely fastened.
I looked up and realised the old man in front of me that I had inadvertently been following through the store.
Oh thank god! Crisis averted. It was just another incontinent old man.