My name is Diana, and I’m a germaphobe. I have been since I was a child, and it’s only worsened since I had my kids of my own.
Growing up, I was the kid that would turn green whenever I witnessed somebody get sick. My brother was the kid that caught every stomach bug going around, so I was known to lock myself in my bedroom and keep the television on so I wouldn’t hear the sound of him getting sick. I would occasionally put towels or blankets at the bottom of my door to try to prevent germs from entering. Thankfully, I was able to keep my fears hidden from most people.
Last year’s flu outbreak was particularly rough for me. It brought back my deep-rooted fears, especially now that I have children at risk of catching these illnesses. I refused to take my children out in public and would avoid going to the doctor’s office. I had certain routines I would follow any time I went out in public, including using hand sanitizer before touching anything in my truck and removing my shoes before I walked in the house. Not too crazy, right?!
My husband was traveling a lot at the time, spending a lot of time on airplanes. Thinking about the germs he was exposed to would send my anxiety into overdrive. I came up with a particular set of rules that were to be followed after flights. Shoes off as soon as he walked in the door, then hand washing. His clothes were to go directly into the laundry room, and regardless of the time, he was to take a hot shower to ensure he wasn’t bringing any germs into the bed. I would spray his luggage down with Lysol and wipe all door handles down with bleach wipes after he’d left for work.
This was around the same time we were looking at preschools for Charleigh June. I was so neurotic, we didn’t go look at any of the schools on the list. I actually made the decision based on phone calls alone! (Which, miraculously, worked out perfectly and we couldn’t be any happier with our choice.)
Needless to say, now that Charleigh June is in school my anxiety is sky-high. Once she gets into the truck, we sanitize our hands before she touches anything, and once we get home she changes clothes. It’s been difficult, especially knowing she’s exposed to so many different germs. Although my twins are three, I still can’t get how sick they were as preemie’s out of my mind.
Being a germaphobe is tough, no doubt. But even more difficult for me to stomach is a sick kid or sick mom, especially since my husband travels so much. While I understand exposure to these germs builds your immune system, it’s nothing I care to risk without a good support system close by.