Thursday, November 13, 2008

Under the Microscope, Everything is a Monster


A few weeks ago I was sitting, enjoying my morning coffee, kids were sitting, watching the latest exciting episode of Sesame Street, when suddenly Audrey screamed with Jacob joining in, “BUG BUG BUG BUG!”


Most of the time I tell them to squish it and be done with it, but for some reason I got up from my comfy coffee station to check it out. Sure enough, there was a small brown bug on her pants. I went to remove this little critter, and it jumped! Jumping spider? No…I finally caught the thing and became even more alarmed; it was a FLEA!


What?? A flea?? We don't have pets! To be sure, I squashed all of the evil life out of it, and stuck it under Jacob’s high powered microscope. With the help of the Internet, I was able to identify that yes, it was in fact a flea. Suddenly, I noticed BITES all over ME, and, worst of all, we now had The Plague.


See, after beginning the onslaught of tearing apart my house to clean it and remove every possible threat of a manifestation (thank goodness we don’t have pets ‘cause it would have been thrown out with the rest of the stuff I got rid of!) I surmised that this beast came from another beast, the ones I was feeding outside, the squirrels. Two days before they were cute “pets” we fed, that would entertain us by jumping on and running around on the screen door. Now, they were RODENTS with virulent diseases, and since I was the only one with about 30 bites, I was doomed to be hit with The Plague first.


I write all this to simply say, I am one of those hyper-excited moms that sees every small thing as a monster. The flea was pretty benign in my fingers, but under that microscope it was a fanged, spike-clad vampire, with spindly legs and an alien head full of PLAGUE! And pretty much, I am fine with experiencing life until it gets in my face; Plague, rabies, and West Nile Virus are just the teeny, itty-bitty tip of the iceberg of things I have recently thought we have been exposed to, things that hand sanitizer does nothing to and all start with, "cold-like symptoms".


After going to the CDC website and finding that Plague only happens in wild creatures in the western US, I was sure I would survive the flea assault and was able to relax and focus on getting my house cleaned up, evicting the squirrels, and filling my Purel bottles to battle the more common viruses, like the puke flu and the seasonal flu.


See, it wasn’t until I had kids, got pregnant actually, that suddenly the whole world became one big virus-y germ that I had to defeat. I am not sure why…well, maybe it was experiences like these…


-Watching doctors/nurses put on gloves, then touch doorknobs, pens, chairs, themselves, RIGHT BEFORE wanting to check my cervix (please change your gloves…um, NOW!!)**


-Seeing blood on the floor of my hospital room…knowing it wasn’t mine…


-Taking new baby ANYWHERE and watching people sniff, wipe their nose, and then touch ANYTHING


-The friend/family member that visits, hugs, kisses, talks for an hour with you and baby and then says something like, “man, I have been puking/running a fever/suffering "the runs" all week!"


-Teaching Sunday School and seeing what the average 4-year-old can do to themselves and to the bathroom when left to do the job themselves...


-Reading news articles, while I am TRYING to relax, with headlines like, “Grocery Stores are the Dirtiest Places in the World”, “CDC Predicts Worst Flu-Season Ever”, “Bed Bugs on the Rise and in a Hotel Near You”, “Is Your Drinking Water Really Safe?”, “Mad Cow Disease…” any article with that beginning…doesn’t matter…


-Finding my then crawling baby girl with a piece of green poop in her mouth, which she found behind the recliner, left there by our Chihuahua...(coincidence?? Paco did NOT like the kids...)


-Having our condo flood three times with water from city pipes, to which the guys who came out to clean it up said, “I wouldn’t be walking around in that, it’s sh** water!” We had to throw TONS of stuff away and leave our house for two days…sigh…


But, the hyper-sensitivity REALLY kicks in once baby really does get sick! That first illness is always the worst. Even if it is just a cold, the fact that they can’t breathe, and can’t sleep, is enough to cause you to curse everyone you came in contact with that could have done this to you and your baby! Not only is it torture to watch your baby suffer and not be able to do anything about it, you can’t really go anywhere or do anything but bother the triage nurse on duty for your Doc’s after hours call line. Yeah, they got to know me well…


As soon as Jacob turned 4 months old, we seemed to be sick with a cold every month, along with the annual Fall Puke Flu, and the Spring Roseola, followed by the Summer favorite, Hand-Foot-and Mouth Disease (which I got two times with them. It was PAINFUL!) Audrey was able to somehow acquire the Rotavirus right before her 1st birthday, and after puking up blood, she was admitted overnight in the hospital, mostly because I became hysterical. We were “quarantined” in a special room for the night, because we were “so contagious” but maybe really because I was hysterical. But AGAIN…gloves were touching US, the contagious ones, and then doorknobs, pens, etc…


It’s just, as a mom, you have this instinctual desire to control and protect. Sometimes it presents in different ways, whether it be illness, education or social acceptance. Something triggers our predisposition and it explodes into a life-long struggle to overcome.


For me, staying away from the Internet (haha! Yeah right…) is the best way to stay sane ('cause hey, I didn’t even mention lead poisoning, sexual predators, the education system or rare and deadly childhood diseases!) and making sure my kids’ hands are clean ALL THE TIME! Our illnesses have decreased dramatically since I started carrying that stuff around, which is amazing because I still haven’t broken my kids of sticking their fingers in their noses and mouths every three seconds.


Now contradictory to all of that, I allowed my kids to get Chicken Pox because I didn’t feel like pumping them with another vaccination. That experience actually helped me, because I for the first time really saw the rhetoric in the news and understood the fear-mongering that lends itself to supporting the pharmaceutical industries. Before the Chicken Pox vaccine came out, it was an illness seen as a “rite of passage”, one that had scars serving as proud battle wounds, a time when kids remembered staying home, getting to watch cartoons and eat ice cream while slathered in pink paste. As soon as they started requiring the vaccine for school admittance, Chicken Pox became a “ preventable yet dangerous childhood virus, that can lead to serious secondary infections and complications such as encephalitis and pneumonia, even death”! (my paraphrase with no citation) So as soon as the first pox popped up on Jacob, those threats swarmed in my head and I thought that I had made a terrible and irresponsible mistake. Actually, Chicken Pox was easier than Roseola!


Not to get on a soapbox or a debate on vaccinations, I am not going there, I am just saying that particular experience is a good one for me to call on in order to not blow every little thing up into a big, scary monster. And while I will always keep the Purel around, I think I will put my fears of Plague and rabies to bed. I might even start feeding the squirrels again!


**This is in fact is a VERY bad habit of a few health professionals I have encountered. They clearly know that gloves protect people, but they seem to sometimes forget the gloves are not there to only protect them. So, stand up for yourselves people! Make sure the next thing they touch after putting on gloves is YOU and nothing else!


6 comments:

robin said...

love the picture of the squirrel on the door!

Kristi said...

You are cracking me up, sister! This was true Kimbo lit right here! Lovin it. :) More!!! Give me more!

kearsie said...

This post made me laugh! I used to work at the Health Department as a Nurse Aide and we wore gloves all the time. Although, it was to protect us, not the patient, from their virus-y germs. I'm thinking your nurses got the same training.

Cassoulet Cafe said...

Can we be twins? Each and everything you mentioned (minus the misfortune of house being flooded with poop water) is something i've said/done/thought.
The hugest pet peeve ever? The one where people hold the new baby, then confess to their week long illnesses. Having a friend whose newborn baby almost died of RSV, from a visitor who just couldn't stand to not see the baby even tho they had a nasty cold...I was The Big Meanie when my last two kids were born, forcing Purel on each and every visitor (yep, many were totally offended, but i don't care, my kids are alive).
My MIL had the biggest beef of all, but she has the most germ laden hands I know of. She'd come straight from Fred Meyer and want to touch baby's fingers and mouth. More than a few times she quit speaking to us because of our reactions. (We were nice, but firm about washing her hands...WITH SOAP!)

Kim said...

Yes, we can be Wondertwins...let's make belts that hold Purel, facemasks, blow torches, and contracts for people like MIL's w/ dirty hands (wanna hug? WASH YOUR HANDS and sign here) I can try to locate that article about grocery stores being the worst places to take your kids, because of EVIL MICROBES! I don't think that was the title, tho...

TTucker said...

I can so relate...sooo funny! Love the blog!

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