The joys of germs

I am what many would call a germaphobe. I wasn’t until I became a mother- or maybe I was and baby brain has helped me forget. Either way, I am one of those people who scan a room for runny noses within the first 2 minutes of entering. It’s sad, really. But I can’t help it.

As a result of not being in daycare environment, my kids have been living in a bubble with less exposure to germs than most kids their age. Well, Aiden was in a day home from age 1 -2 and he was sick every 2nd week. And by sick I don’t mean just a runny nose. Most of his illnesses were respiratory related (Pneumonia & Bronchitis) and he wound up hospitalized at 14 months. That visit was also his introduction to Ventolin puffers.  So every time he got a runny nose, I knew I had to watch him carefully. He never just had a mild cold so I can’t help but associate a runny nose with much more than just boogers.

Fast forward the next 4 years and if anyone within a 10 foot radius of Aiden has a runny nose, he gets sick. And of course, being a family of four now means when one child gets sick, the other gets sick too. Heaven forbid their reluctance to share carry over to the germs department. Yet, I attempt to reduce the spread of germs by Lysoling the house until you can taste the disinfectant and I keep hand sanitizer close at hand at all times. It may not prevent the healthy child from getting sick, but it makes me feel better- like I’m putting up a good fight against those pesky asshole germs.

There were two incidents recently when Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer most definitely didn’t stand a chance.  Camryn licked a freezer door in the ice cream aisle of Walmart *gag *As if that alone didn’t send me into panic mode, he proceeded to pick up a random McDonald’s cup off a shelf and drink from it. I wanted to pour the sanitizer down his throat (which of course, I never!! Lol). If that won’t boost your immune system, I don’t know what will. I’ve been told that I should let my kids just eat dirt and be done with it, but I can’t see myself willingly allowing that to happen either 😉

When Aiden started Kindergarten last month, I cried. Not because my baby was growing up and I wasn’t ready. I cried because school is a germaphobe’s worst nightmare. I can no longer scan the room for runny noses or sanitize his hands (although there is a bottle in his lunch tin). I can’t protect him from coughs and sneezes in his general direction. The second he walked into school on the first day of kindergarten, that bubble I mentioned – it burst.

By day 3 of school, he was sick. Head cold. Sore throat, runny nose, cough. 10 days later, he was no better so the doctor put him on antibiotic for sinus infection. 4 days after that he developed a bad case of croup and was put on prednisone for 5 days.  Four days later he wound up getting another respiratory infection, ear infection, and was back on antibiotic and prednisone again. In the midst of that his brother catches some wild virus resulting in a high fever, no appetite, lethargic, on top of the runny nose and cough etc. He seems to be on the mend, and Aiden appeared to be relatively good health for the first time since the first day of school until he woke this morning congested, with a runny nose. While he was wiping his nose, I was packing my bags for the next flight to the nearest deserted island. I want to replace the Advil with suntan lotion and sip tropical drink with straws, instead of suctioning buggers from noses.

I have a feeling it will be a rough year. A sick year. I have a feeling the good ol’ stomach bug will be reintroducing itself to our family soon enough (it’s been 3.5 years since Aiden has seen him and Camryn never has). Let’s just hope the tea tree oil spray I use in his hair helps keep lice away at least. There’s only so much I can handle.  

I know I can’t leave them in a bubble for the rest of their lives. It was time for Aiden to go to school and I love that he loves it. I just hate wondering everyday what ailment he’ll bring home with him along with his homework. I am hoping his immune system eventually builds up some resistance. That’s the silver lining in all this, is it not?

I am also thankful (and hopeful) that the only sicknesses I have to worry about are those that can be cured by meds, or simple rest and fluids.  Some parents aren’t so lucky (and I bet those same parents are reading my post and want to punch me for complaining about minor ailments in comparison to their major ones. Heck, I’d want to punch me) because the truth is, some kids are fighting for their lives and the sheer thought of that makes me ill. We can only protect our children from so much.

So I will welcome the flu, colds, stomach bug, pink eye or lice any day with open arms when compared to a life threatening illness or cancer. The only thing children and cancer should have in common is that they are both words beginning with the letter C. Sadly, that’s not the world we live in. Some kids don’t even get the chance to go to school. When I think about that harsh reality, I tuck my hand sanitizer into my pocket, kiss my child goodbye and put him on the bus for another day. I then walk away thinking- not about all the germs waiting for him at school – but about how lucky I am that he’s healthy and happy and actually gets the experience of bringing germs home to share every single day 😉