Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Typhoid Mary

I was practicing the theory of washing hands to avoid illness. Frankly I was feeling very obsessive compulsive with my pocket full of anti-bacteria wipes. And a bit high. The major ingredient is after all alcohol in those things. I thrashed them and decided to use soap in the lavatories. I must admit this cramps my style just a bit. Not everywhere you are in contact with people has public restrooms.

I changed to moist towelettes for diaper changing. They don't come in tidy and convenient packages so I had zip lock bags in my pockets. Now I have a cold and very red and raw hands. And I have made all my friends feel like Typhoid Mary.

Seems I am not alone. I was listening to NPR this morning about the flu and religious practices. Everything from Holy water to shalom has been condemned. Never mind sitting (or kneeling) close to your fellow worshipers in a pew or on a prayer rug.

I am reminded of the time I gave up all food from the sea because of the mercury level. Then all vegetables that were not organically raise. To make things even more difficult I gave up beef, lamb and pig because of the drugs fed to them to prevent them being sick. And chickens! Let us not even talk about chickens. The are walking, chucking vectors for disease.

Anyway I was at this embassy party in Washington, DC and there were tables heaped with the most beautiful food you can imagine. Rather like the midnight buffet on a cruise ship. The huge tower of shrimp held my attention. One of my political friends came up behind me, "You aren't eating anything." I launched into my prepared speech about the chemicals and preservatives that were laced through food these days.

"You know," he said, "there will come a time when you will not be able to buy a single item of food that does not have those things in it. And you organic food nuts will die because you have not built up a resistance to them."

I saw his point and heaped a plate with shrimp and raw tuna sushi. I think this current phobia about viral infection is like that. Avoiding all human contact is not healthy for the soul.

Anyone have a remedy for raw red hands that does not include a petrochemical laced product?


  1. Poor Typhoid Mary, I think she was treated abominably (even though she was no angel herself)!

    Try virgin olive oil for your hands. It will be slippery and awfully oily, but it does have an emollient action. YOu can always put some flannel gloves on after you apply the oil and then about an hour afterwards wash with a gentle and mild soap.

    And in terms of your post, "The safest place for ships is the harbour, but that's not why ships were made"!

  2. I totally agree. If we aren't careful our fastidiousness will turn round and bite us in the bum.

  3. I carry a small bottle of Sani-wash in the form of a quick drying liquid with me since the 'handshaking Dutch' refuse to give up their practice. But I actually picked up the Sani-wash bottle fettish from teaching internationally in countries not as hygenic as in the West. Regardless of how careful I've been, I've noticed that the longer I've stayed in a country not my own the more I'll pick up one thing or another. I had food poisoning three times in China, once in Russia along with edema from mineral build up that doesn't boil out when boiling water. I picked up some type of stomach bacteria the first time I was in Ireland that flushed out after around six months but never had problems in Ireland since.

  4. Sani-Wash is one that is almost all alcohol. I avoid alcohol in all products from mouth was to cough syrup and slaving in on my hands seemed so stupid especially since it made them red and raw.

    If washing hands helps you avoid flu with recycled air in buildings and stores then I say it is time to bring back the cotton gloves our great aunts used to wear. Is it possible this was more than a fashion statement?

    Viruses just live on a surface that is not moist and organic for a very short period of time. I can certainly see the argument for nurses and doctors washing hands as they go from one patient to another. And it has been proven that simple soap and water kills bacteria and viruses that are not phased by sani-wipes.

    I do believe as our population becomes denser on this planet there are more nasty things out there ready to attack. For years I avoided lettuce from Mexico because of a microbe that is prevalent there. But in the stores today I have no clue as to where it comes from. I avoid green stuff enclosed in plastic bags like spinach where whole colonies of anything can flourish.

  5. Dove should take care of the hands or Norwegian Formula Neutrogena. There is a product that I used in winter when in the UK which North Sea fishermen use to protect their red raw hands. Can't remember the name which is not of much use but I think it was also made by Neutrogena. I think Nicholas's suggestion is good.

    Generally, we over protect ourselves. At one time I would never have dreamed of washing my hands after holding onto a railing as I was either going up stairs or downstairs in a public place.

    At one time, if I saw a caterpillar in a lettuce I would just dispose of the caterpillar and wash the lettuce. These days I throw away the lettuce!

  6. A live worm in a piece of fruit or head of lettuce means there are no chemicals that killed him. It is the dead ones that mean the veggie is unclean.

  7. No matter how careful one tries to be, if it's your system's "Time" to pick up whatever is going around, you are a done duck!

  8. Of course it is Peking duck? Would any of us stoop to less.

  9. I remember some years back in my regular trips to Tijuana to help in the colonias some of the Mexican workers laughing, saying Mexicans think we're "too clean" .. that those of us from the states have an obsession with cleanliness.

    I agree with the guy from DC- moderation in all things. You can always use other body parts other than hands in places you feel are unsanitary to maneuver around what you must. Elbows and arms. I learned so much from my quadriplegic friends.

    I think it's like raising children ~ if you keep them too sterile, they don't build up their immunity ~ balance is key and not overthinking it so it becomes an obsession.

    Shaking hands? We don't HAVE to do that ~ we have the right to do what's comfortable for us. I would feel horrible if I shook hands with someone and then saw them turning around using hand sanitizer.

    How would we live if we were back to not having so much news media "informing" us of what's "good" and "bad?"

    IMHO, worrying is more detrimental to health than exposure to germs.

    Also .. those people in Tijuana have dirt floors .. no windows .. CUT the BAD parts off the vegetables and fruits and use them .. don't care if the carrot is deformed looking .. are GRATEFUL to get ANY water (they don't have plumbing) .. still they survive and most seem fairly healthy. Strange, isn't it? ;o)


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