For Goodness' Sake, Wash Your Hands!

I think blood cancer is making me anxious or maybe it's this coronavirus. Darn! Why didn't I buy stock in a hand sanitizer company?

I knew a lady who attended my church who wore white cotton gloves every Sunday long after it was considered fashionable. One Sunday, I discovered her secret. There was a lot of handshaking at church she explained. She knew some people did not wash their hands after using the bathroom. Seriously? Oh, GROSS! I didn't start wearing gloves, but I did start slathering on the hand sanitizer after our greeting.

Avoiding handshaking at church

Last year, our pastor implemented a new practice for greeting each other. He knew we had some members who were undergoing chemotherapy. We no longer pause to shake hands, but simply turn and wave to each other after our Bible verse: "This is the day that the LORD has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it." I like the waving; I never did understand why people thought they had to hug someone they had seen seven days earlier.

A glitter experiment to show how germs spread

I worked with some very creative educators during my teaching career. I remember how my neighbor teacher brushed glitter on one student's hand. That student shook hands with a classmate, then that classmate shook hands with another classmate, etc. Soon, almost every child in the room had glitter on them somewhere. Such a powerful lesson to show how germs can spread!

Is it strange when I hear someone with a hacking cough, I think, I hope that's a smoker's cough? I have a low white blood cell count because of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), so I might have trouble fighting infection. My friend told a story about how her son saw someone wearing a face mask at the hospital. He started coughing on purpose to watch that person's reaction. I was quiet when she told this story. In my younger and healthier days, I might have laughed too. It isn't funny to me these days.

Steps to prevent illness

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, some steps we can follow to help prevent the spread of illness include:1

  1. Wash your hands often.
  2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  3. When you're sick, stay home.
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent infection. (Nail biters, reform! Also, stop that thing some of us do when we lick our finger to turn a page.)
  5. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

Thinking back to the 1918 flu epidemic

I had a relative who died in the 1918 flu epidemic. It was one of the deadliest epidemics in history. I have always said I am glad to be a baby boomer. The indoor bathroom is the dealbreaker for me! We can wash our hands more frequently. Many of us have automatic washing machines and dishwashers. Life should be easier and healthier.

My oncologist has always told me, "Keep living your life. Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer. Rest when you get tired." Let's all get through this 2020 coronavirus.

Editor's note: This article was published on March 13, 2020. Further developments in what we know about COVID-19 are continuously emerging.

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