Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Germaphobe Extraordinaire

I get asked all the time, "How do you never get sick?!"
I think people mean well, but they say it in this incredulous-slash-offended way...
Well, my "blends," this is how I do it!
(1) I obsessively and meticulously wash my hands. I mean like hardcore, orange surgeon soap up to my elbows, 30 seconds under hot running water, meticulous. Common sense and health tips drilled into our heads since we were itty bitty tell us that we should wash our hands after using the restroom, before touching or preparing food, after sneezing or touching our nose or mouth, after interacting with someone who is or may be ill, before eating or drinking, after touching something visibly dirty or contaminated, and a host of other instances. I choose to err on the side of caution. I try to stock moisturizing soaps at home in my kitchen and my bathroom so my hands don't dry out.

(2) I carry hand sanitizer with me wherever I go, and I use it religiously. I've taught at a school for intellectually disabled students for the past two summers, where germs are spread very quickly and easily. I was a diligent hand-san user before I began working there, and I became even more so with the giant bottles of Purell everywhere I looked. I learned there that if you cannot wash your hands and you do not have access to an alcohol-based sanitizer, simply the friction of rubbing your palms together for 20 seconds or so kills some germs and bacteria.
(3) I consume plenty of vitamin C. Good old C is a powerful antibody in warding off infection, illness, and contaminants. Citrus fruits, juices (my vice is Minute Maid pulp-free OJ), kiwis, pomegranates, brightly colored peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, brussels sprouts, and canteloupe are some fantastic sources of vitamin C that I love.
(4) I drink lots, and lots, and lots of water. The "universal solvent" aids our bodies in many ways, not the least of which is hydrating us to keep everything inside running smoothly and efficiently. Without enough water, our bodies pull strength and nutrients from other areas, which can render our immune systems defenseless.
(5) I don't share anything related to the mouth. You need to borrow chapstick? Sorry, wrong number! You would like to have a sip of my drink? Try hers instead! Even Ian and I are careful when it comes to smoochin' and sharing food and drink.

(6) I exercise to keep my body moving and feeling well. I can't even calculate all the ways in which exercise benefits our bodies--and I'll spare you an even longer post--including keeping everything strong and functioning well.

(7) I exercise caution and good judgment. If a friend is supposed to visit but she's had a cold for the past three days, we might reschedule. Frighteningly, people are usually at their most contagious period before they're even aware that they're sick, and before most diagnostic tests can register illness (e.g. the flu, strep throat). Watch out for people's complaints of symptoms before they actually appear or are confirmed sick.

(8) I get a flu shot before flu season (admittedly, only in recent years, at Mom's insistence and trickery). Even though the shot is only meant to protect us from a few strains (usually one of the strongest from the previous flu season), it's better to be safe than sorry. The flu can really knock you for a loop, and I'm thankful that I've never had to experience its wrath. Most pharmacies and college campuses will also offer the flu mist (nasal spray) for those like me who aren't a big fan of needles.

Ironically, as much as I despise being ill, I also despise going to see the doctor to get drugs. Maybe it's the atmosphere -- I always feel like they're going to give me a shot. Maybe it's germ paranoia. Whatever the reason, I try to avoid getting sick at all costs so the Doc can spend more time with others. How generous of me, right? ;)

I'm no expert on germs or illness, but I am an expert on how I keep them at bay. You asked, so I answered. Have a good one!

P.S. How do you keep from getting sick? I'd love to hear your secrets, tips, and tricks!

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