Germs. Does reading that word immediately prompt a pump of Purell? Did you grab the Lysol can and start spraying? Or did you take a double dose of your vitamins and perhaps supplements?
If you have children, most of them spend at least seven hours a day in a cesspool of bacteria. Some call it school. I refer to it as a thought-provoking Petri dish. I have a strong immune system. I think it’s a combination of a healthy lifestyle and years of working with delightful, drippy-nosed kids.
My germaphobic tendencies emerged after I had my own children. This isn’t how I’ve always lived. In fact, I have a vivid recollection treating a five-year-old patient. I told the mom he looked feverish and sounded stuffy. I saw him anyway. I didn’t have my own munchkins yet, and I was more chill then.
About 15 minutes into our session, he literally hurled without warning. Chunks of what looked like multiple meals landed directly on their target: Me. I didn’t see it coming. I was grateful for the formerly lavender scrubs I was wearing that now looked like an jumbled Jackson Pollack painting. I froze momentarily because as I’ve mentioned before, I can calmly watch surgery or childbirth yet vomit instills instant panic. I took a deep breath and quickly got a grip.
After the birth of my son, who was literally sick every month, I became a bit germaphobic. Yes, I was that mom who asked anyone holding Alec to please wash their hands. Despite nursing him for nearly six months, he had recurrent ear infections, sinus issues, constant coughing, and more. And before you laid-back souls, whom I admire tremendously, judge and jump to the “you were too clean” rebuttal, I didn’t cause this.
I have my own personal research lab comprised of my two children. In fact? As I write this, Alec is hacking in the other room. Zoe even commented, “Why does he always get sick more often and longer than I do?” As an infant and even now, Zoe rarely gets a cold and if she does, it is gone swiftly.
After nearly 16 years of my son and husband taking turns with the plague-of-the-moment, I have officially become a mild germ-a-phobe. I’m coming clean. I have levels of bacterial and viral aversions. Let me explain.
When Alec was young, my husband began to travel quite a bit. So not only did I have a baby who often ran 103 degree fevers, but the love of my life brought home his own lovely cooties. I’d constantly have two sniffling, snotty souls living with me.
I started to realize in recent years that we can prevent the airplane ailment! For the past seven years or so, we have used wipes to clean the seat. For the full effect, one must wipe the seatbelt, armrests, table, and any other surface that can be touched.
We travel frequently as a family. I can honestly report, at least for us, this has decreased any travel-induced illnesses exponentially. We rarely, if ever, get sick during or after a trip anymore! I used to perform this sanitizing schtick secretly. And lately I’ve had many flight attendants remark, “That’s a smart idea—good thinking!” There have been several occasions in which fellow passengers have asked for a wipe. So I now bring extra supplies to share with anyone who asks for one.
The next topic I’d like to address is handles and toilets. Yep! I admit that I flush with my foot and open the bathroom door with a paper towel. I have watched person after person use the facility and not wash their hands. It’s downright disgusting. Mock me if you wish, but it’s blatantly gross.
And yes, I squat above the seat. I have a friend who’s told me for years that the toilet seat is the cleanest part of a lavatory. Just recently I read an article substantiating her statement. She is absolutely correct. It is just a matter, I suppose, of preference versus facts. I’m also not a fan of drinking from water fountains, and I won’t do so unless I’m dehydrated.
No, I do not use a mask. I also do not get the flu shot. And I fly multiple times a year. I attend crowded concerts, and I am realizing most of my actions are not neurotic. They are preventative.
The bottom line? I have much I want to accomplish in this lifetime. I do not have time to be sick. Period. I adore my husband and children more than words can convey. However, when someone is really ill, the person picks a particular area. He or she remains in the contaminated corner until the first few days of sickness have passed.
For sleeping, my darling hubby goes to what I lovingly refer to as the “quarantine quarters.” I’m lucky to have an extra bed. We made it into a guest room, which is rarely used, despite me offering it to friends and family.
So truly when my love is under-the-weather and snoring like a freight train, the room isn’t wasted! He used to get irritated, but he can sleep through a hurricane. I hear everything. We’ve agreed (at least I have) that it’s best for him to slumber and heal in another room. He also knows that I run the household and am the primary caregiver. If mom goes down, so does the rest of the family. Who takes care of me? You know the answer.
Tease me. Talk about me. I don’t care. Come visit my laundry room that’s replete with sanitizer, essential oils, natural hand soaps, and bleach wipes. And if you stop by, I’d love to make you freshly ground, organic coffee, or tea with Manuka honey (an effective and tasty immune booster!). Or perhaps you’d prefer a green smoothie? But before you eat—wash your hands.