Friday, March 14, 2014

A Story About Germs

It's true that I have a fear of germs. It's something I am okay with and, as such, will openly call myself a germaphobe.

Germaphobe: Any person who is obsessed with cleanliness and defeating bacteria. These individuals will turn on faucets with their elbows and hand sanitize on an hourly basis.
[Urban Dictionary definition].  

Okay, I don't actually sanitize every hour and I choose to use a paper towel on faucet handles, not my elbows and only in public restrooms. But I don't want to just defeat bacteria - I want to defeat viruses too! The truth is, I'm not even all that afraid of getting sick. I'm just a bit grossed out by certain things and get a little more anxious about them than, say, my husband.

This all started when I began my nursing career in an intensive care unit. Hospitals are cleaned multiple times each day but there are still a lot of germs in them. And bodily fluids. I frequently came into contact with both of these things. I combated this by washing my hands, taking off my scrubs as soon as I got home, keeping my work shoes in a separate box and washing my hands again.

Once I had children, this germ fear got a bit worse. Because children spend much of their day on the floor. And they put everything in their mouths. And I'm not talking about toys. It's the necklaces, remote controls, and keys. It's also the tiny specks of things that can't be identified and the pea that was not swept up from dinner 3 nights ago. I combat this too though. We don't wear shoes in our home and I have hand sanitizer strategically located throughout the house, in the car and the diaper bag. My children were learning how to wash their hands at the same time they were learning how to walk. 

Despite these things, I am really okay with my kids being kids. They play in the public sand box, get covered in mud and eat icicles from the gutters. And I only cringe a little during these activities.

But there are certain things that make me a bit anxious. For instance, this morning: I had put my work shoes on but realized I forgot something in the house. I slipped them off and ran upstairs. By the time I got back, my 1 year old was holding my shoe, her entire hand covering the bottom. As I removed the shoe from her hand she then immediately took the thumb of that same hand and began to suck on it. This is just disgusting. 

I was running late for work so I begged my husband to wash her hands. Thoroughly. I pushed the future image of her vomiting with a fever out of my head. He reminded me that a small amount of germs is actually a good thing. And I know he's right. But it's still really grosses me out.

I wish I could say this is the first time something this disgusting has happened. It's not. When my oldest was under a year, I turned around to find a large ball of cat fur hanging from her mouth. When we traveled last year, that same child not only licked the window on the airplane but also a seat in the terminal. And that time I decided to Say Yes to jumping in puddles - she stuck her hand in one and then licked the water off her finger. 

I know I have no control over these things. They will continue to happen. It's part of life and germs are good. However, I'm still really comfortable keeping my pocket sanitizer with me at all times.

Even though I witnessed my child inoculate herself with hospital floor germs this morning, I was able to get a bit of a laugh out of this: 19 ways to tell if your are a germaphobe

What about you? Are you completely laid back about these kinds of things or do they also make you a little anxious?  

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