🎋What Germs…?🎋 by JoAnn

A hand in yellow gloves spraying blue goo on the ground.

I confess! I can be quite the germaphobe. I’m thankfully not a clinical case under a doctor’s care for my shortcoming. But I have enough anxiety over germs that I have had to learn how to deal with them in everyday life.

I know I had to be one of the happiest people ever when hand sanitizer came on the market! I would have bought bottles of it by the case if I could’ve afforded it to make sure I would never run out. When Covid-19 rolled around, and there was a shortage of hand sanitizer, I was one anxious lady. I couldn’t find it anywhere. And sales online were way out of anyone’s price range. So a box of plastic gloves was kept in my car and worn whenever needed. And although I personally was very uncomfortable wearing a face mask, it gave me great comfort to see everyone else wearing one.

I wash my hands probably between 10 and 20 times a day. Sometimes more. It all depends on what I touch. Certain things will require several hand washes, such as scooping the kitty box or taking out the trash. Sometimes I use gloves, but I prefer washing my hands. Touching anything that might have bacteria on it will lead me straight to the sink.

Cross-contamination is a huge deal to me. When in the kitchen, I am always thinking about it. Raw meat is #1 on my list of things that must be dealt with meticulously. If one tiny drop of meat juices hits the counter, or anywhere it shouldn’t be, everything must come to a halt, and that drop be taken care of by a disinfectant. Never is anything that touched the meat ever to touch another part of the kitchen. Sometimes I run the hot water and have my liquid soap ready to immediately wash my hands when needed.

Eggs are another thing that I deal with carefully. When cracking an egg, no egg white or yolk must get on anything other than where it suppose to go. And my hands are washed immediately before touching anything else. Salmonella is the enemy.

It’s not only things that contain bacteria, it’s also stinky things—for example, a can of Tuna fish. The juice will stink up anything it touches. I am constantly trying to figure out the best way to open a can of Tuna. My most recent method is to place a clean bowl in my clean sink and open the can over that bowl. If any juice splatters, it will go into the sink, which will be cleaned upon removing the bowl of Tuna.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to be so particular about opening a can of Tuna. I saw an old re-run of the TV show, “Everyone Loves Raymond.” In this episode, Ray’s wife was giving him a hard time for being fanatical about Tuna juice. He could not stand for even a tiny drop to fall on anything in the kitchen, including his own hands. It was meant for comedy, but I believe the story came from a real person who had the same problem with Tuna as me. I felt vindicated.

All of this does not mean I have an immaculate home. I do not. In my younger years, I tried beyond exhaustion to have a clean, white-glove home. It turned out I was not physically capable of the job. Not for the long run, anyway. I have come to terms with the fact that a home cannot be immaculate and also lived in daily. But I still struggle with the desire to see things sanitized. It still makes me anxious to see a chore that needs to be done and instead gets pushed back until a better time for it to be taken care of comes around. I no longer worry about said chores as I did in the past. All that did was bring on unrealistic goals that brought on depression after failure.

I have grown, and I’m happy about that. But I will continue being extra careful, just in case. I will continue buying a good hand lotion for my overly washed hands. And I will never stop experimenting with the cleanest way to open a can of Tuna.