Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Confessions of a Spermophobic

OK, for the record, "spermophobia" is a fear of GERMS. Not to be confused with "germaphobia" which is not a real thing, but sounds a lot like "germanophobia" which is a fear of all things German…

While I am actually a RECOVERING spermophobic, and I have been known to use shopping carts without wiping the handles down with a disinfecting wipe, I absolutely HATE being sick. When my kids were little, I taught them how to pick up salt and pepper shakers in restaurants using pieces of napkin so as not to actually touch the shaker (although, what else was really inside those shakers, anyway…). Tables were wiped and wiped again and again. Hands diligently washed. Bodily fluids handled as if they were bio-hazards… I completely wore myself out in those early years of parenting (thankfully, this was just prior to the anti-bacterial hand-sanitizer craze that can actually cause harm).

Finally, I surrendered (which is NOT the same as abdicating), thanks to several unintentional interventions.

Following my brother's untimely death when I was in my early 20's (and newly into the parenting scene), I eventually began leading a support group for kids who had experienced the death of a sibling. Not to put it lightly, but there are a TON of ways that kids can die… and while I attempted - for a time - to keep mine alive via some super hyper-vigilant means, I realized that there was no humanly possible way for me to cover each and every one of the potential bases. I was exhausted…

Despite my careful watch, one kid of mine suffered from several quite traumatic head injuries, stitches and staples (an unusually large head, severely bent tibia and very fat, rounded-soled, pigeon-toed feet turn out to be a bad combination for a kid learning to walk… for several years…), and frustratingly frequent bouts of croup, once he out-grew his earlier colic. Large tonsils and adenoids caused another to suffer repeated sinus and tonsil infections and bouts of pneumonia, necessitating the scary event of surgery at a fairly young age. Bicycle wrecks, gangly clumsiness and active imaginations all contributed to an environment where injuries, illnesses and mishaps occurred with normal frequency. Having three children in 3 years lends itself to that.

I learned to let go of the idea that the quality of my parenting would necessarily manifest in whether or not my kids got sick.

But here's the thing: I am a terrible patient! I get complain-y towards myself and I am super-apologetic… ad nauseam to anyone who is within earshot whenever I am ill. I think that one of the motivating factors in my becoming a holistic wellness coach is that I really DON'T like being sick. While growing up, some of my peers would enjoy near spa-like treatment if they were home sick with the sniffles. Snuggling under the covers, surrounded with their favorite things as adults harken them back to a time when they were the center of the household's universe for the duration of the virus du jour. . . king or queen for the day. Not so for me. I don't like being confined in that way (more room for that during another confessional).

As with the parenting route, I also must allow myself to be OK with getting sick from time to time and not feeling that it is a reflection of how "good" I am at my job.

Ranking up there with the quality of patient I am is my attentiveness at care-giving - perhaps it is even worse (this is partially why I like to encourage my loved ones to take good care of themselves). Frankly, my bedside manner stinks…

I was fortunate enough that the Universe saw fit that only one time during my parenting career did a child of mine throw up while my husband was not home - and that one happened in the hallway of our apartment building where we had a janitor who (reluctantly) took care of it. During his later years of high school, my son was suffering from what - in retrospect - appears to have been the dreaded 'bird flu.' He'd set up camp in the basement - the bottom floor of our four-level home - where he had access to the TV and a bathroom without contaminating the rest of us. It's not that I banished him there… he wanted to be in the dark since the light hurt his eyes (perhaps that should have been a warning sign)... Every now and then my husband or I would take him some food or water, but he pretty much just wanted to be left alone. One afternoon as I was chatting with one of his sisters in the dining room, we heard a house-rattling cough that vibrated the floors beneath our feet… I had completely forgotten he was even home, much less confined and sick in the basement…

Despite best efforts, however, we all most likely will get sick from time to time. It's important to not beat yourself (or the patient) up over it, but instead treat yourself with some genuine care. Of course, hand washing is important (with regular old soap and water), but so is eating some really nutrient-dense foods - especially those that are rich in immune-boosting vitamin-A (like pumpkin, winter squash and sweet potatoes) and lung-supportive enzymes (like spinach, kale, and other dark green leafy vegetables). It's also important to avoid sugar, as much as possible, since sugar depletes important minerals during digestion, thus weakening the immune system.

If all else fails, email me. I'll send my husband right over.

Elly Haddad of Elemental Fit is an IIN certified holistic health & wellness coach based in Nashville, TN. She is a public speaker and writer, and also works with individuals and group throughout the US - helping them understand the important influence that diet & lifestyle have on their health, happiness, and overall wellbeing. Contact Elly via email here.

1 comment :

TheBoeskool said...

Really well-written, Eleanor.