When I was growing up my younger sister, Jan, was bed-ridden with Cystic Fibrosis. I took care of her when my parents worked or weren’t home. We played games and read to each other separated by a plastic oxygen tent. As confined as she was by the plastic bubble that encased her, Jan could still have fun although she yearned for the freedom that other kids enjoyed as she watched them play together from her bedroom window.
My Mom, Clare Bell Bonnett, was a nurse for 44 years. She taught me about the risks of invisible germs. She reminded me all the time to wash my hands and showed me how to do it thoroughly, between fingers, under the nails, around the wrists, as that’s where germs hide. I had to make sure my hands were clean whenever I touched Jan as she could easily get pneumonia and end up hospitalized. I even bit my nails so germs couldn’t gather under them.
I started avoiding friends who looked like they might be sick and this started in elementary school and continued to middle school. Whenever Jan did go to the hospital I worried that I might have caused it by not washing my hands well enough. Looking back this was extremely traumatizing, no matter how hard I tried or prayed, at the age of nine, my little sister died. The Germ-Free Zone Show is dedicated to Clara Bell and Jan.
We’re all the result of our childhood upbringing, the fear that my germs might be responsible for someone else’s illness is why I still wash my hands, at least, twenty times a day. When my children, Kennedy & Cole, turned five years old, I started teaching them how “cross-contamination” of hard surfaces within a public restroom could make them sick. They learned the golden rule: Do NOT touch any surfaces.
Many years later I am still taking notes about how to prevent pathogenic microbial colonization within my home. The simple truth is the very best way to protect a home is NOT to transport bacteria, viruses, and spores into the home.
To protect ourselves, our children and those around us, we can become informed and committed to practicing personal hand hygiene techniques recommended by the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control.
Author – Public Restroom Survival Guide
Podcast Host – The Germ-Free Zone Show
Writer – GermFreaksClub.com