After two years of complete bladder and bowel incontinence I thought I had enough experience that I could handle any situation with only minor embarassment. However that changed yesterday on a flight to visit a college friend in San Francisco who I have not seen in almost four years. Since becoming incontinent I have only flown on two other occasions and both of those were much shorter duration flights and I had my husband and young children with me. However, for this trip I was travelling alone on a much longer trans-continental flight from Boston to San Francisco. I knew the longer flight would likely require a mid flight diaper change as I can rearely go more that 4-5 hours between changes. I prepared myself with 3 diapers and a travel container of wipes in my large carry-on purse. I boarded the flight confident and super excited to see a dear frind.
I have always loved the window seat as I enjoy being able to look out the window throughout the flight. An hour into the flight, I was reading my book when I smelled a slight hint I might have had a bowel accident. I immediately hoped I was imagining it as the thought of having to clean-up on a plane was a little overwhelming. After a few minutes with the smell begining to intensify I became certain I had to change quickly. This is when things began to get humilliating. I had two businessmen working on their laptops between me and the aisle and the beverage service cart was between me and lavatories at the rear of the plane. I asked the businessmen if they could let me through and they obliged. As I slid past them I realized my waist was moving unnervingly close to them for a woman with a lot of unpleasantness under her dress. I immediately began to blush deeply with thoughts that these men were not only going to be within easy earshot of any diaper crinkle, but the smell that followed me would confirm their suspisions that the woman sitting next to them had just soiled herself. I was also struck with the thought I was going to have to return to sit next to them for another three hours.
Little did I know that things were going to continue to get worse. As I approched the beverage cart, the flight attendant said I would need to return to my seat until they had passed my row. I pleaded it was an emergency, but she would not relent. So back to my seat I went. Passing my businessmen again I tried to keep my composure and draw on some of the skills two years of incontinence had tought me, but as I sat back down and realized I had just made my clean-up that much harder I began to weep. I tried to hide it by facing the window, but sitting there waiting for the aisle to clear I could hear the people in the row in front of me begin to talk about the smell and state they "wished the mother would change that kids diaper" and began to sob. I kept trying to keep myself calm and think of what I might say (I have learned being honest and confident often helps in awkward situations) but it the ten minutes I was sitting there those lessons were very hard to focus on. The beverage cart finally passed and I was given the go ahead to use the lavatory. Now teary eyed and still blushing I was an even bigger wreck as I asked the businessmen to excuse me.
I made it to the lavatory and while relieved to finally be alone, I realized the cramped quarters were going to present an even bigger challenge than I had imagined. I battled through a process of undressing, taking panyhose off, removing a soiled diaper and finally cleaning myself up. After 15 minutes with several people impatiently knocking on the door I was finally put back together. Only two challenges remained: disposal of the diaper and facing the two businessmen for what was now another 2.5 hours. There was no way an adult diaper would fit in the trash receptical so I was very glad to have the plasic bag I always cary with me to wrap it up and return it to my purse (note to fellow sufferes: it is not possible to be too prepared). Upon returning to my seat, I gave an "I am sorry about all that" as I again passed the two businessmen. I think they were too embarassed for me to respond with more than a nod.
Unadjusted to west coast time, I am now awake and sitting in my girlfriends kitchen hoping this message will vent the lingering embarassment I feel from the flight as I need to retrace my steps in a couple days. I think the hardest part of the process was being forced to stay in close proximity with these "strangers" after such a public accident. Public accidents in the past could either be passed off on one of my children (sorry boys) or were in a location with enough people coming and going that the embarassment was mutted. Sorry to be so long winded. Hopefully my story will help others better handle a difficult situation they may find themselves in!