Sparked by Words

When I was a child in elementary school during the 1950s, my parents bought their first home. It was in Trenton, NJ, only a few miles from the state Capitol. It was a big house and they converted part of it as my dad’s first private medical office. He practiced out of his home, as had physicians for thousands of years before him, and his was the last generation to do so as a matter of course. Only a dozen or so years later, medical clinics became more common.

My dad’s office consisted of a waiting room, two examining rooms, one of which he leaded in so he could take his own x-rays, and a consultation office. Every night he placed all his medical instruments in an autoclave and sterilized everything he’d used that day, ensuring they were safe for use the next morning.

A sink was in each examining room, one operated by knees, the other by elbows. I watched my dad wash his hands. Actually, he washed his hands, his wrists, and his forearms up to his elbows. He lathered and scrubbed with a little brush for what seemed like ten minutes.

During those years, grades 1 through 6 for me, I caught every illness in my school – colds, flu, measles, bronchial coughs, sore throats, my first episode of pneumonia, and terribly painful boils when an epidemic hit the city. Close contact with all the sick kids in school guaranteed I would get sick too. I’d had mumps, chicken pox, even a bout of mononucleosis, when younger. Fortunately, I never caught polio.

The flu and finally the polio vaccines became common during the 50s, and my dad was the physician who inoculated the grateful community.

My dad somehow never got sick. Even as a little kid, I worried about him catching the illnesses his patients had, but he didn’t. I wondered if he simply had a really strong body that didn’t catch those bad germs.

In fact, my dad had a secret weapon, and I already told you what it was. He washed his hands. He scrubbed for a long time. He did this before and after examining and treating every single patient. I know because if it was a family member, I sometimes watched.

I wasn’t all that clean as a kid. I learned cleanliness as I grew, adopting an increasingly vigilant regimen of teeth brushing, hair and face and body washing, and especially hand scrubbing.

During this Covid 19 pandemic, washing your hands vigilantly and often is, for now, the best protection we have, and it can work. Wash, keep your distance from others when you must be out, wear protective gear if you can, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and otherwise stay home.

Every time I wash my hands, every time you wash yours, we protect each other from transfer of the virus. We protect our children, our parents, our neighbors, our grandparents. Until we have an effective vaccine, washing our hands is an excellent shield.

Please wash your hands. If not for yourself, for all the other people near you who may get very sick from Covid 19. Who may even die. Stay safe, stay healthy. Somebody you love is counting on you.

 

Hand washing image courtesy Pikrepo

 

 

 

 

 

Comments on: "The Power of a Good Scrub" (42)

  1. Excellent advice, Sharon. Hot or cold water? There doesn’t seem to be much info about that here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d always thought hot or “dark warm” was best, but Dr. Sanjay Gupta demonstrated on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show how to properly hand wash, and he said it didn’t matter. This was one of the shows taped several nights ago in an empty theater. What’s really important is to scrub your entire hands vigorously, making sure to get to all parts of your hands, for at least 20 seconds. I know my dad used hot water. Hope you’re doing well, Tracy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m doing fine, Sharon. I hope you are too. I’m pretending like I’m a surgeon going into theatre when I scrub my hands. My hands feel demonstrably different from my normal handwash, so I think I am getting the hang of it. ❤

        Like

      • Good to hear that you’re doing well, Tracy. Once you get used to this hand washing technique, it’s hard to go back to casual. I’m using a ton more hand lotion after I wash. Hope it doesn’t defeat the purpose.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Kids don’t get it but the older we get the more we do. Sing “Happy birthday to you” song and stop washing when you finish!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Sharon, I hope all is well for you where you are. You certainly had a good education in hand hygiene from your father. It’s good that such a simple operation can be so effective, if done well. I have to admit I hated washing my hands as a child, but not now! Best wishes to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was so proud to be his daughter. I don’t think my dad even realized how much I absorbed watching him.
      We’re doing OK, Denzil, thanks for your kind thoughts. I dislike not being able to see my sons and their families, but I certainly understand the need for social distancing. We stay in touch with phone, email, etc.
      Hope all is well with you and your family. Is this crisis curtailing your walking? It must be hard on you to stay away from what you love doing.
      Sorry, I’m behind on blog reading but will catch up soon.

      Like

      • Never apologize for not reading blogs Sharon! 🙄😏We can exercise outdoors but only locally so no driving somewhere. Yes, unprecedented. Difficult to stay calm but we must. 💐❤️

        Like

  4. Oh, Shari! I’m so happy you’re back on your own blog again!! I’ve been checking it for signs of life every so often. 😉
    I just wished it would be under better circumstances…
    Your heartfelt written post is a very good reminder, and it’s also interesting to read that your dad belonged to that generation of doctors still operating from their own home, something I’ve never come across myself but have read about.
    Working with clay and paints I’m used to scrubbing my hands thoroughly – a fact I’m grateful for now because to me it’s just normal and doesn’t worry me. I’ve seen posts from people showing their bloody(!) han ds because they wash them so often (and maybe with too harsh a soap?) out of fear. It’s a disturbing thing to see. 😦 And also alarming because once you have an open wound bacteria and such can enter much more easily. So washing your hands is really important, yes, but maybe even more so is it to try not to touch your face so often, especially when you’re outside and in public.
    Take care and stay safe! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • You bring up an excellent point, Sarah, about not washing your hands bloody. Defeats the purpose. I haven’t run across this yet. Mostly I see people rushing out of public bathrooms after fixing their hair and makeup but not washing their hands at all. Then they’re out in the store, touching everything with their unwashed hands after using the toilet. I’m sure men are just as bad as women. Good grief, some folks are so filthy, it’s a wonder we survive anything.

      Art teachers tend to be fastidious, except for the paint dripped all over our clothes. When I taught, I always bought heavily patterned clothes to help hide my drips and the kids’ contributions when they grabbed hold of me to get my attention. Sweet kids, I miss teaching, but their “art” on my blouses was yucky.

      Thanks for welcoming me back. Don’t know how much I’ll put into the blog, you know why, but I felt this had to be written.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is always needed but definitely a great reminder with COVID-19 .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Now when I wash my hands, instead of fear, I will do it honoring your Dad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy, thank you so much. You really made me smile. My dad would have been 98 on March 17, and he would have been pleased to know that he taught you something to keep you safe.
      Hope you’re doing well.

      Like

  7. Oh Sharon, I’ve missed you and have been checking your blog. Good to see you are well. I sing the Happy Birthay song twice now while washing my hands. Your Dad sounds like a most wonderful man,

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Shari, thanks for sharing your thoughts today…nice to see you on the blog!! Any time I step out to the store or, in this case, a trip to Home Depot yesterday, I use my hand sanitizer, grab a cart wipe (our HD had none) and go. As soon as I get into my car, more hand sanitizer, wipe my steering wheel and my purse handles. Once in the house, wash again, put groceries away, wash again! “Shampoo-rinse-repeat!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Shampoo-rinse-repeat!” Safe practices – good for you, Terri. I do much the same routine. Hope you and your family are well and healthy and not going crazy being cooped up. I don’t mind being at home, but I really miss my grands. FaceTime has helped with the younger ones who live up near you (sort of.) I drove to the home of the older grands, and they stood on their porch and showed me their latest projects, ten feet away. We blew kisses and hugs.
      Thank you for welcoming me back.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jenna Barwin said:

    Well said, Sharon!

    Shared on social media.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Contrary to your experience of the 1950s, I was rarely sick. My mom insisted I visit my friend next door to get the mumps so that I could be done with it. I did get the measles that lasted three days but the other measles I got that strange shot for. Was it because my mom was always telling me to wash my hands? Possibly, although I think it was also because I lived in an arid climate instead of one that had humidity. The infectious germs just couldn’t survive in the dry air of Colorado as they could in places where there was more humidity. Now that I’m living in Tennessee, my chances of contracting COVID-19 is better than it would be out west.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I lived in Hawaii the year I was four, a hot and humid state and a petri dish for germs of all kinds, and caught everything the islands had to offer. Then I lived in Alabama the year I was 5 and had mononucleosis. Pretty young for that one. When we finally moved to New Jersey, which is extremely hot and humid all summer, cold, snowy, and miserable all winter, I got my first bout of pneumonia – have since had it at least a dozen times. along with an outbreak of boils when I was 10, and multiple cases of strep throat and bronchitis all through adulthood. Covid could be very bad for me because of my history of respiratory illnesses. Staying in our home as much as possible. Wishing you well, Glynis.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Simple, but effective. I wash my hands a lot more lately, and that’s a good thing. One thing I saw on a video is to remember to really do a good job on your thumb and scrub those fingertips. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is beautiful. What a simple gift your dad gave. I’m sorry you had so many illnesses as a kid. I love the impression you had of your dad though. Ahh, the power of soap. I’m bless/cursed with OCD and unrelenting standards which have come in handy these past weeks. Here’s to the power of love and soap. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  13. 🙂 it was around 10:30. I’m pacific time. I sleep terribly during the week because of work, usually waking up at 3, then sleeping for another hour or so but on the weekends…well, I slept until 11 o’clock this morning and that is just unheard of! My body and mind were beyond exhausted, apparently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought you lived on the east coast – obviously not paying close attention. About once a week my body says, “enough,” and I crash for a few afternoon hours. Lots of folks are feeling emotionally drained right now, exacerbating our physical exhaustion.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. hello dear!!!! so glad to see you back 🙂

    Like

I would love to know what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: