Monday, September 22, 2014

Proud Germaphobe Parent

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I so dislike this time of year when I seem to have to be wary of those who aren't conscientious of their germs.  And it's not just tiny cute carriers, dressed up in cute back- to-school outfits.  It is their parents who go off to work sick, it's therapists who don't stay home when they have a throat tickle, a sever at a restaurant... it's the cashier at the grocery store.  Adults clearly old enough to know better exposing others without so much as a second thought. 

The truth of the matter is I have a medically fragile child.  Plain and simple.  When Noah gets a cold it is completely different from how his little brother deals with being sick.  Noah can't sit up and clear his chest, he can't blow his own nose, he is in a category of fighting an uphill battle if he gets sick.  His illness can last three times as long as a typical child's can, and has the potential to hospitalize any child with a disability faster than you can say the word germ.  

In the beginning I was worried I was going to offend anyone I came in contact with as I am armed with antibacterial wipes, gels and hand sanitizers pretty much at all times.  I have a no shoe, wash your hands policy note plastered to the front of my door and if you happen to miss that warning, another 8x10 framed notice on my wall that will greet you upon entry.  Noah even has a warning tag on every wheelchair that he owns that specifically states don't touch him unless you have washed your hands.  I don't play games and I don't care if people think I'm flat out nuts. That's fine.  Its a germy world.  Super I get that.  But I am the mom to a child with special needs and my first priority is him, not what others may think about how I go about germ warfare.  I have to keep him healthy and thriving.

So I find it especially appalling when I go to the store, and the cashier blows her nose and then continues to ring up your food.  Turns to you and says "sorry, I have a cold."  Holy Mother of God, NO!!!!! That is so far from okay.  

I wanted to laugh when Noah's nurse brought me a PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) Kit last week.   For those of you scratching your heads, it's a set of gloves, mask and a full length, long-sleeved disposable gown.  Imagine my own personal bio-hazard suit.   Fun.  The idea is for me to wear it if my child ever becomes infectious.  Something the State Department requires be in the homes of any child receiving services.   Lately I'm thinking I need to simply wear that suit out in public.  Gosh.  Really? 

I just couldn't do it, I couldn't bring those groceries home.  I walked away from an hour's worth of effort, loading and re-loading two children and a wheelchair, knowing I'll have to go to a different store and start all over later.   The idea of coming home with someone else's snot on my child's food pouches wasn't in my agenda today.  When I explained that I have a medically fragile child that she was putting at risk, her response was "I am sure colds will build his immunity and I used up all my sick time"  That's just fabulous thinking on her part.  But you can't educate those who aren't even willing to consider they are posing a great risk to another person.  It's such an ego-minded world out there.

Here are simple things that you can do on a daily basis that would make me feel a million times better:

1)  Wash your hands.  And not just every now again, like frequently and with lots of suds.  Pretend you're about to take a Certified Nursing Exam and really get under those nails for a minimum of 15 seconds.  Then pretend you're rinsing like you're headed in for surgery.  Okay, well you get the idea.  Just wash your hands!

2)  Have a cold?  Well first I hope you feel better soon.  Second, blow your nose, cough into your hands, rub your eyes, then go back to #1 and WASH YOUR HANDS after each time you do any of those things!  You will greatly reduce the transmission to others.

3)  Stay away.  I mean that in the nicest of ways.  You are sick and I really don't want to see you.  I can love you from a distance.   And please, I beg of you just stay home so that I can at least get groceries that haven't been fondled with your germy secretions.

4)  Take notice if you have been around another sick person recently.  Are you a nurse or therapist who treated a child with a cold earlier and are now bringing your Ipad, laptop and supplies into my house that the other child played with for an hour?  Decontaminate!  Antibacterial and clean anything that a sick child has touched so you don't pass it to the next house that has a healthy child.

5)  Don't patronize me when I express concerns about trying to keep my child with special needs well.   Just tell me you understand and appreciate all my hard work and efforts.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.