Today, I am working from home and settling in for the long haul. As the rest of the world goes into a “sudden” hygiene frenzy, my wife and I are settling into what has become normal for us for the past fourteen years.
In 2006 we were already minor germaphobes, but when I started to take prednisone that year for Sarcoidosis which suppressed my immune system, my wife got us into a routine that prepared us for this day and made prevention normal.
Sarcoidosis has given me some conditions that make a simple flu dangerous, even deadly. As a result, I need to be extremely careful, so when we are out and about, if I hear someone sneeze, I immediately hold my breath and walk as fast as I can away from the area. My wife also got an aromatherapy oil that is a natural germ killer. We wear that under our noses, and actually use it as an all body moisturizer when going out.
We carry hand sanitizer at all times and have disinfecting hand wipes with us to wipe the tops of soda cans or the tops of Starbucks cup covers for when those idiotic baristas use their whole dirty palm to cover a coffee. Really? Why?
When we go to restaurants we wipe the cutlery with wipes. When we travel we wipe down the seats, the screens, the arm rests of the jet. Using public bathrooms for me is a well choreographed dance. Dispense paper, wash hands, use paper to shut off water, if no urinals and have to use a stall, use paper to open, lock, unlock and open door. Dispense paper, wash hands, use paper to turn off water and to open door to leave toilet. I never touch any surface other than to turn on water and the soap dispenser to wash my hands, thoroughly.
If I have to valet park the car, when I take it from the valet, open the windows to air out the car. Wipe down the steering wheel, gear shift, center console, radio buttons, steering wheel buttons, door handle, window buttons, rearview mirror, side view mirror buttons, indicator and windshield wiper controls. Everything that could have been touched by the valet.
When we get home, we do not wear our outside clothes in the house. We remove our shoes at the door and undress right there. We have a large hamper at the entrance and put our “street” clothes in there. We enter the house at the kitchen, so we immediately wash our hands before touching anywhere. We wash our street clothes separately from our indoor clothes and wash them with laundry sanitizer. Our dogs sleep with us so when we take them for a walk outside, we wash their feet before they come into the rest of the house. Anything coming to the house is wiped down, and I mean anything. Groceries, cans, boxes, bags, bottles etc. New clothes are not worn before being washed.
I am sure that there are a lot of other things that I am missing but to those on the outside looking in, it may seem extreme. Anyone that is visiting us is cancelled if they have a cold of any kind. And if we have guests, we cover the sofas with blankets for them to sit on and then wash them when they leave. We mostly only have company in summer where everyone can stay outside on the patio furniture. Now, everyone is trying to adopt these same practices which to us are a normal every day routine.
When this is all over, everyone will return to their original bad hygiene practices but we will continue to be vigilant and will again be prepared for the next corona virus outbreak in 10 years.