Thursday, January 16, 2014

In Sickness and In Health - Germophobia

I have been battling a sickness, my first in over a year--so, I thought it might be the perfect time for this little post.

In recent years, I have become quite the little germophobe.  To the point where even my mom (who is also a germophobe) has remarked upon it.

I'm not quite sure where or when it began--maybe it's just because my mom is, I'm not sure.  But, it is a somewhat recent development. I suspect it actually has at least something to do with my thought processes while sick.

You see, when I'm sick, I can't quite stop thinking about HOW I got sick--my mind will just run a mile a minute, and I'll keep thinking about the germ I picked up (omg!  Where was it?  On a door handle?  A computer keyboard?  A desk?  A shopping cart?  A box of cereal I picked up at the grocery store?  The debit card pad?) The possibilities are endless!  And then there is the question of HOW did the germ I picked up get there?  Did the person carrying it wipe his or her nose, and then touch the thing?  Did they sneeze all over it?  Did they cough on it? Beyond that, there is the question of HOW this germ entered my body?  Did I pick it up from whatever I picked it up from and then rub my eye?  Eat something?  Touch my face?  Touch my lips?  Rub my nose? 

You see?  It gets exhausting even thinking about it even when I'm healthy, let alone when I'm actually sick.  It's extraordinarily tiresome then.

I think all of this thought has led me down the long sterile winding road that leads to severe germophobia.  OF course, when I wash my hands in a restroom, I turn the water off with a paper towel.  No paper towel?  I'll use my elbow, and then gingerly grab a seat cover with which to open the door.  Especially so since I recently read an MSN news article that says air dryers are unsanitary.

If I'm at work, I'll take that paper towel and fold it in half and open any door that is in between me and my office.  I'll also use a paper towel in the kitchen at work to open the fridge, open the microwave, set the time on the microwave, etc.

A few weeks ago, I was in Marshall's and I was pretty damn sure the cashier was sick.  So, I went out of my way to go wash my hands (all the way in the back of the store) before I left, even though I was kind of in a hurry.  When I got to the restroom, the women's bathroom was out of soap, so I went in the men's (it was empty, thank goodness) to wash my hands with soap in there...

A the gym, I use the towel they provide to touch all the buttons on the machine.  At crosswalks, I use my knuckle to press the button.  When I use a pen at a store (if I've forgotten my own), I use my long sleeve shirt or sweatshirt as a protective barrier between myself and the pen.  If I am wearing short sleeves, I hold the pen at the tip top, which makes for a really sloppy signature, but which protects against germs, since most people tend to hold the pen like a, you know, not crazy person.  When I use the debit card pad, I use my knuckle.

As I'm typing it all out now, I realize how kind of crazy it is.  I've even thought about carrying around a rubber/vinyl glove to avoid touching things.  It hasn't come to that...yet.

But, I can't help it, the train of thought when I'm sick (like now) is too scary.  Obviously, even with all these precautions, it doesn't always work--but it leaves me less paranoid.  On average, I'm sick a lot less than most of the people I know or work with, so I'm not sure it's entirely without merit.

Maybe someday I'll end up with a couple pairs of gloves in my purse, and I'll slide my little fingers in them whenever I become aware of danger!  Or, maybe someday I'll cool it, and be able to use a pen at a store like a normal person.  Who knows?  For now, this is how it is--and I think it keeps me slightly safer from some of the nefarious things out there (germs, parasites, and viruses, oh my!).

What about you?  Any other germophobes out there?


  1. You should carry hand sanitizer before you give into the glove! I've both read and heard from my doctor that it is more effective than hand washing (but only because mist people don't wash their hands correctly, which probably doesn't apply to you).

    If I was a germophobe, my job would kill me, as children are disgusting. Don't get me wrong, they're cute & I love them, but they pick their noses, then touch our work table, cough in my face, don't wash their hands after the restroom (I even found a remnant of that on a boy's arm one day - OMG I almost barfed), the list goes on & on. My saving grace is a giant bottle of hand sanitizer, for myself & the students, Clorox wipes, a flu shot, & an immune system strengthened by 3.5 years of being around these germy lil angels. I haven't gotten over it completely tho, as I still occasionally get sick, & I am almost always grossed out!

    -Heather S.