Friday, July 10, 2009

Are You A Germaphobe??

I have worked in a hospital setting for 18 years.  As an OT I have had to take all types of patients in the shower and to the toilet to assist them with their daily cares from those on ventilators, to post surgical patients with wounds, and those recovering from strokes.  So I have had my moments of having to dodge phlegm spouting at me, coughs, MRSA, and all other types of germy stuff.  Years ago I never gave it a second thought.  It was just what I did for a living.  I certainly took the necessary precautions like plastic gowns, masks, and of course gloves hoping that would be enough protection.  I wore nice clothing back then, dressy even.  I have had to go through many a lecture on the job about handwashing techniques.  I never obsessed over it.  That is until now.

I think it started when I was going through my cancer treatment.  I had to work full time in a hospital while I was getting poison that killed my immune system.  Needless to say I was a little concerned.  My oncologist said it was ok as long as I didn't have to work with the very sick patients who had the most bugs.  I was lucky to have had a supervisor that made sure of just that.  That was 8 years ago.

Then I started watching Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay and my fear of germs took a bad turn.  I was riveted watching each episode and getting way grossed out each time.  I started thinking too much about what goes on in the restaurants I frequent.  I started to not want to go out to eat, and if I did I was super particular about where and even then would practically all but inspect everything on my plate as well as the plate itself and of course the silverware.  Unfortunately we eat home alot more but that has saved us some dough so I guess it is not all bad.  

Now when I go to my OT job I obsessively use purell.   I wear scrubs which go right into the laundry the second I get home.  And then the rest of me goes in the shower.  Things I never did years ago when I first started my OT work.  I don't know which is worse...the me then or the me now.  I have a little purell bottle that goes everywhere with me.  I run through that stuff like mad.  After I use the carts at the grocery store, after I ride the train or subway in the city, and don't even ask how I handle the public bathroom situation.   My husband just laughs at how obsessive I am with it.  I think I have gone way overboard or have I?

Anyone else willing to admit to being a germaphobe?  How do you handle yourself in potentially germy situations?  Do you leave the house with your trusty bottle of purell like moi?  Do you ever wonder what goes on back in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants?  Did you worry more during your treatments because of a shitty immune system?  

3 comments:

Kairol Rosenthal said...

Total germaphobe and proud of it. It seriously reduces the amount of colds and flus I get and that matters hugely to me. Also, if you want something else to be paranoid about, I read an article a while back about how wearing scrubs outside of the hospital is contributing to the spread of germs to the general population.

Cathy Bueti said...

Oh crap!! That thought has crossed my mind many a time when I leave work in my scrubs! I don't want to sit in my car or even go in the house with them on. I walk through the door, peel them off and dump them in the laundry bag ... which of course is a different one than where my regular clothes go.

Kim said...

Cathy,

I am amazed at how we are so much alike. I too work in healthcare. I come home and strip my scrubs off and jump in the shower immediately. No one can touch me.

Like you I too have a bottle of purell with me everywhere I go. If I can't find it in my purse because it is buried underneath something I almost have a panic attack! Not fun! I have Rheumatoid arthritis which causes me to have a supressed immune system. But why back 10 years ago did I not have concerns about germs? How can it just start over time?

My hands are so dry and cracked it isn't funny! Being a germaphobe has changed my life. I have an 18month old son and it has gradually gotten worse since I had him. Because now I worry about him being exposed. But in the back of my mind I know that him not being exposed is bad too! YIKES!!

I worry most about bringing home MRSA from work or places that I have been (i.e. grocery store carts, dr.'s appts, etc) I used to love to go shopping now it is a chore to get there.

Well thanks for listening to my story. I just couldn't believe how similar our stories were. If you get this message because I see you posted it back in July 09 let me know how you are doing and if you have found anything to help you? Thanks