I knew I was in trouble as I walked up the path to Torokbalint station. I needed to go to the loo. I had been perfectly all right when I left the house and walked the twenty minutes to the station, the warning signals only started with the path.
Now Torokbalint station consists of this: two platforms, two sets of rails. On the Budapest side, the frame of a shelter with three metal seats. No. Loo.
And this wasn’t anything so simple as a pee. Oh no. This was a poo. In fact you could call it faeces. It was a major poo. I could tell that it had been waiting quietly for the perfect moment to emerge and now, NOW was that moment.
Go away, I said to it mentally. Go back. Wait. We can do this at the language school, we can go there where they have a nice loo. Not here. There is No Loo.
Hur, hur, said the poo, no, I’m coming out now. HERE!
You can’t, I thought, as I went and sat on the metal seat.
Go on, squat down and do it, do it, said the poo.
F**k off, I mentally commanded, you’re not a baby. Anyway, that’s disgusting. Wait!
Go on, I’m coming out now! chortled the poo.
I clenched my buttocks and tried to avoid the gaze of the Hungarian lady who had just arrived. I gave her a little smile to reassure her. She moved away from me.
Now! the poo was shouting, Now! Now!
No, I said, standing up and pacing in a circle. I didn’t care about the Hungarian lady, I was desperately trying not to foul myself. Oh god, stop! I thought.
Come on, now! Now! laughed the poo.
That’s when I started feeling funny. Not just the indescribable bear-down feeling that you get at times like this, but hot and cold. I realised sweat was dripping down and I was shaking.
“Come on, train!” I groaned and another two Hungarians moved away from me.
Now! Now! Now! chanted the poo.
I was feeling sick. My eyesight went funny and I couldn’t quite focus. Oh shit, I thought, is this another stroke?
NOW! NOW! NOW! shrieked the poo.
The train was arriving. I could hardly stand and had a strange bottom-sticking out posture and my legs were a long way away. I got to the door, managed to press the button. Oh thank Christ, there was a loo, next to some young men with bicycles. A lovely clean roomy Hungarian train loo.
I went in and at last I could let fly. I’d describe the sensation but that would be rude. It was… great. And the poo was surprisingly small, not the gigantic evil bottom-monster I expected.
Then I sat and juddered until the next station, washed my hands and face – the sweat was still dripping and went and sat down, feeling exhausted.
I was better by the time I got to Deli palyaudvar though I took the metro to the language school where I’m teaching instead of walking as I normally would. I still felt a bit shaky.
What was that? I wondered and texted my doctor friend Christine in a panic. She reassured me. Just my vagus nerve playing up, she explained. Quite all right, almost certainly not a stroke or anything sinister.
A spot of internet surfing later and all was clear: I’d had a spot of defecation syncope, was all. Anti-hypertensive drugs may worsen it – I’m taking them for high blood pressure of course, since my stroke. Sometimes people faint and foul themselves. It’s just the vagus nerve getting a bit overexcited, as Christine said. 10th cranial nerve, controls parasympathetic nervous system, brakes to the accelerator of adrenaline and cortisol, according to Wikipedia “controls the involuntary muscles in the digestive system, stimulating peristalsis and gastrointestinal secretions.” Possible origin of the idea of chakras. Long slow breathing with long exhales will stimulate it and get it to put the brakes on. Allegedly.