Monday, April 2, 2012

me? a germaphobe? naaahhhh

The other day I was talking to Rick about germs and when my slight obsession started with them. I probably shouldn't have asked him such a loaded question because I didn't want to know the real answer. "Ohh I've only been a germaphobe for a few years." He says it's been much longer. But I can say this- I remember the height of my freaked out (and freaky) ways starting right when we moved here to Colorado. Isn't that strange?
But it all makes sense- major life change + child with CHD + child without CHD that licks his fingers constantly = disaster.
I've never had to worry so much about James. Come on.. when he was an infant we'd take him to our local grocery store almost every time we had to shop for groceries. There was no sterilization..no hand wipes.. no hand sanitizer use.. no cart wipes at the front of the doors (or were there? because I had no care in the world). At that time, it was all about getting James' immune system up to par. I felt like I was doing him a favor by letting him take in the germs. But I didn't really even think about the germs that lingered on every cart handle, seat, and every other little nook and cranny out in public. It just wasn't something that concerned me.
The first time James was sick was on his 1st birthday. An entire full year of exposure without care and he survived.
Let's fast-forward to when Natalie's diagnosis came..

I still kept up with the idea that Natalie would still need to be exposed to germs.

But I digress.. I was a stay at home mom when both children were very young, so there was no day care. No preschool (yet), no REAL significant exposure. Or at least I felt that way then.

But then something changed inside my big bulbous brain.. (well big head anyway)

Once Natalie had her 1st open heart surgery and we settled down with the idea of settling down..ie- knowing that she was okay for now, we started to explore the idea of moving to Colorado. So we had a while to adjust to the idea of moving here. It wasn't an overnight decision by any means.
Once we moved to Colorado, my brain changed. Somehow I focused all of my anxiety about the situation (mixed with good and bad stress) towards germ control. Husband can't find a job? SCRUB THAT HIGH CHAIR. Having a hard time making our rent? DISINFECT THOSE DOOR KNOBS. Grocery budget too low for the week? YOU MUST INCLUDE CLOROX WIPES ON THAT LIST.

It really did get out of hand.

And there seems to always be a wave of extra disinfecting when things went from bad to good. I always thought of that as pretty weird. Husband found a job? SCRUB THAT HIGH CHAIR EVEN MORE! You find a job and go back to working full time after several years? okay... not really a problem when it involved disinfecting for a living. So what did my brain do? Channel that left over anxiety and energy on something that I still don't understand completely.

So great.. I kept thinking... now I'm worried about THAT.

It's kind of funny, too because I see how my brain does it..how it's working in a, what seems to me, bizarre ways but yet, it continues.
Since making that confession almost exactly a year ago I've still struggled with it, but I can happily report it's gotten better.

And that goes right in line with how financially things have been calm..and actually.. great. It could always be better. It will be. And I know that. Once I realized how things were settling down my phobia peaked. Yup, weird I know. But then for the first time ever something different happened...

But it happened gradually.. and I noticed it right away when the numbers on the scale started going back up. Not cool, but it also means that I'm getting braver. That, also sounds weird.

I spend most meals enjoying them. Not thinking about anything else.
I spend some days not really cleaning at all. Not thinking about anything else, except what my next snack will be.
I spend some nights having a late snack. Not always thinking about anything else, except what the scale will look like if I keep doing that.
I will handle my dirty cell phone and then eat a snack without sanitizing my hands every time. This is HUGE for me. SO HUGE.

My thoughts are bordering more on the healthy line, but that doesn't mean that I cured anything. I didn't cure anything on my own, but I did realize that I needed to expose myself to germs and feeling comfortable around them. Because crap, they are everywhere. I fly the white flag. It does get pretty useless to try and sanitize every corner of our environment. I know now that that can really damage things for my children in the future. I just need to keep remind myself of these things..
It just feels great to know that I'm not powerless over this. Ya know, being a control freak and all.

1 comment:

Valerie Eshenbaugh said...

Man, do I get what you mean about how you react to the different types of news... Good, bad, indifferent news can all come at me and I feel that scrubbing is a release for me. It's a way to show pride in what I live in, whether it's my dream home or not. I'm, too one of those scrub scrub type gals.