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1.27.2012

AN ODE TO SOAP

My husband laughs at how often I brush my teeth.  At how often I wash my hands.  I am not as bad as Howie Mandell or Matt Lauer.  Both of these men are reported to have some major germaphobic behaviors to the point that it is odd.  Some of us just have the propensity to be a little Howard Hughes-ish.  More times than I care to recount, I have been in a public restroom and watched in horror as women exit the stall by-passing the soap, water, and towels.  There have been a few times that I have looked directly at them and just shook my head in disgust not caring if they see my revulsion.  I will not directly touch the door handle on my exit back out of the bathroom after washing either.  Why would I!  Miss Grossie Germie Hands didn't wash after wiping!  I expect that behavior from my 5 year old granddaughter, not a 25, 40 or 65 year old!  In the mid 1840's the rate of death from childbirth was high without always understandable reasons.  That is, until a man by the name of Ignaz Semmelweis (1818 – 1865) began to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Dr. Semmelweis was a Hungarian obstetrician.  He introduced antiseptic prophylaxis (big words that mean something simple) into medicine: Hand hygiene.  The prophylaxis was simply washing one’s hands after performing surgery or an autopsy and prior to entering the mother’s hospital room. Dr. Semmelweis’ countermeasure reduced the death rate from an average of 12 percent to less than one percent.  Dr. Semmelweis and physicians before him had not connected infections with surgeries and the delivery of babies.  It took some years for that methodology to be believed and practiced.  And, for those behaviors to be changed.  Seems so simple on this side of 1847 doesn't it!   One-hundred and fifty years later it seems like a no-brainer to WASH YOUR HANDS after going to the bathroom, being around ill people, touching things that are bacteria laden, or just perusing the aisles of a local grocery store.  More and more large store provide sanitizing wipes where the carts are located.  For a germaphobe such as I, hooray!! The minute I walk in my house from being any where humanity is or things that humanity has touched, I wash my hands.  I watched the State of The Union Address this week. As the President entered and exited the Grand Hall, he shook the hands of tons of people.  He also kissed the checks of most of the women there:)  Both grossed me out.  I am a very touchy feely person.  Touch is one my love languages, but with masses or unknowns, I think about it twice!  I wondered if he was as freaked out about germs as I was.  Probably a good thing he isn't or it could interfere with his ability to connect to the crowd.  Instead of water on the podium, I would ask for a bottle of Purell hand sanitizer:)    Why is it when we are around little kids and they go to the bathroom we yell down the hall, "And, make sure you wash your hands when you're finished.  With soap and water!"  I did that last weekend when the grandkids were at our house.  Ok, at least to the 5 year old.  I have asked my husband about the practices of hand washing in men's restrooms too.  I mean do a few men not wash after either wiping, or holding and flicking their wonder wands free from urine?  His answer was YES!  I began to freak out and was glad that my eyes did not have super hero abilities such as; viewing the world through a black light or a microscope to see the residue and bacteria that poor hygiene leaves on things.  I do have to sometimes talk myself through using a public bathroom, sleeping in a hotel, eating in a restaurant or sitting on an airplane seat.  I have offended many a cashier when I will not use the pen they put before me.  I will use my own pen thank you.  If you ever come to my house, I will wash the hand towel after you leave.  The good news is, I put a clean one out before you get there though.

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