Get Your Germs Away From My Ass

<CONTENT WARNING: THIS ONE IS SWEARY>

We’re at the find out portion of the fuck around era, and I am not here for any of it. Get your germs away from my ass, both figuratively and literally.

I thought we were getting to higher ground with the pandemic. Sure, things are kind of still a shit show, but there is literally nothing left for the anti-COVID idiots to complain about, what with politicians abandoning all sense of responsibility and public health being bought off by the likes of the mRNA gods and goddesses. To be clear: I am pro vaccination, but the way in which we have been sold to the CEOs of major corporations, both in what’s available to us for therapeutics, treatments, and preventatives, as well as the various industries that saw mitigation measures correlative to decreased profits for them (I’m looking at you Delta…), well it makes my ass sick. Not COVID sick, just sick.

The problem with letting COVID rip, so they call it, is that it has done a remarkable job at mutating, infecting people multiple times, causing massive disruptions to public life, and hammering down our immune systems. I read the other day that 4 million people in the US, alone, now have long COVID, which is pretty fucking profound if you think about the number of people that represents that may have left the workforce.

In any event, now we are seeing all of these other diseases emerge, go buckwild you might say, and the result is of course that the government and public health professionals just… ignore that shit too.

In the last several weeks, we have had an onslaught of people not just getting covid, though. The UK announced polio cases, and a few weeks later news broke that someone had been paralyzed by polio in New York. Just yesterday, the New York State Department of Public Health announced that they detected polio in the waste water as far back as June. There is this mysterious hepatitis showing up in children (no largely mentioned correlation to COVID, though, even as over 75% of the kids had prior infection with the Omicron variant). Today, BNO news announced that some people had tested positive for dyptheria in Switzerland. A few days ago, it was scurvy.

And we all know about the monkeypox. Or do we?

Monkeypox was something we all should have been paying more attention to back in May, when it was clear that it was beginning to spread. But instead of – oh I don’t know – doing anything about it, we all sort of just sat around and chalked it up to being a gay thing. I’m not shy to the fact that the vast majority of cases are currently in the gay/bi/MSM community; however, this is a far cry from who can actually get monkeypox, which is anybody and everybody. Monkeypox just happens to be in an associated group right now, and of course that’s only perpetuated by the fact that as far back as May and, in many places, still today, the only people that can get tested are from that associated group (of gay men, mainly). To be clear, though, while monkeypox isn’t as transmissible as COVID, it can spread in a lot of ways – in the air if someone sneezes through a lesion in their nose, through – yeah – sex (though it’s not an STI), by touching something the other person touched, hotel sheets… you name it, monkeypox can even survive for long periods of time on your food.

And yet still, the government has sort of just ignored it as people begin to die from its effects around the world. Children have started to test positive for it as well, the more that testing has opened up; in fact, two have tested positive here in California, where I live.

I’ll say it again: get your fucking germs away from my ass.

I just don’t understand what fucking thinking we have going on in our heads right now. I read somewhere that COVID does affect some people cognitively, and so I’m wondering if everyone got COVID and we’re all just fucking nimrods now that cannot put two and two together.

So here, I’ll do it for y’all:

1. None of this shit is going to get under control if you all don’t start demanding more from your elected leaders – from the top, down. That first requires you all to give a shit, which I’m pretty sure may be a far cry from happening, but it’s worth saying. If you gave a fuck about each other again, maybe you’d have the impetus to contact someone – anyone – to demand they do better; I don’t know, just shooting that one from the hip. Congress should be funding more research, treatments, response. The White House should be sending out more tests. The CDC should be requiring masks in healthcare settings, at the very least.

2. As long as COVID is allowed to spread, people will continue to get infected over and over and over again. At some point the 4 million people that are disabled now as a result of long term symptoms (not to mention all the people that continue to fucking die, some quite young in fact), is going to grow to such an exponentially unmanageable number that social security will collapse and/or no one will be around to keep your favorite, local Applebees open.

3. Every time a new disease or new-old disease emerges as a problem, you run the risk of it mutating and wreaking havoc the likes of which we have not even yet seen; especially as a result of the aforementioned weakening of the immune system caused by repeated infections with COVID.

4. It is not normal for diseases like polio to show up in the waste water.

5. Monkeypox is painful and puts a higher percentage of patients in the hospital due to the lesions, the sites they are commonly found on, and the amount of pain they create. The United States’s healthcare system is already on the verge of collapse due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, adding this to their burden is – frankly – unforgivable. People can die from monkeypox because it also crosses the blood-brain barrier and can cause encephalitis. And, as if all of that was not bad enough, as many as 50% of cases end up with neurological or psychological issues.

It’s starting to seem as though we have somehow teleported, or time traveled, back to the days when people just died of random diseases all the time. Women lived to the ripe, old age of 32, and then died of period pain in the middle of the cobblestone street. The callousness with which we approach the lives of each other has perhaps normalized massive amounts of pain, suffering, and death, after two years of people replying to COVID deaths on Facebook with laughing emojis, I suppose because it’s easier to just accept this new life?

I for one do not accept it. I want none of it.

It is the 21st century and science has advanced us to a point where a vaccine could be created against a deadly viral disease in under a year, and y’all motherfuckers brought back polio and diphtheria as a response.

There is, of course, the obvious plot twist in it all as well: that this is just a necessary consequence of a changing climate. Anyone arguing still today that climate change is not real lives further down than under a rock. Everything going on – monsoonal pressure on the West Coast, all time heat in Spain and the UK, the storms, the fires… all of that is just the tip of the iceberg of climate change. Scientists have also been warning for years, decades in fact, that another aspect or potential of climate change would be that zoonotic diseases would cause more spill over resulting in human epidemics; that viruses would be able to mutate and adapt more quickly because of the changes to the ecology of our planet; and, that as permafrost melted, old shit would resurface.

Well here the fuck we are, I hope you all are happy.

Whatever the case may be, I – for one – am tired of this shit. I don’t get people that have absolutely zero problem being sick all the time. I do not get it. I’m not saying crawl in a hole and hide forever. I’m not saying seal yourself in a bubble, like Bubble Boy. I’m just saying to get your germs away from my ass. Stay the fuck home when you are sick.

Since y’all cannot even seem to reliably do even that – the absolute bare minimum – maybe I will get a bubble after all…

What If COVID Is The Beginning of the End?

Of course my big disclaimer here is that I am not a doctor and have no science degree. But, I do believe heartily in climate change, and I would wager a guess that the pandemic caused by SARS-COV2 and all of its variants are actually the beginning of massive and catastrophic climate change.

We know that the ability for SARS-COV2 to jump so easily from bats to humans, and to continue to adapt and mutate into variants, was accelerated by climate change. This is a fact.

But what if COVID was actually the climate crisis… kicking off?

The signs are everywhere. From the inability to get the pandemic under control, the constant mutations that are now spitting out at such a speed of rapidity, every day a huge new list is spewed out by the World Health Organization; to the other emerging co-infections that are wreaking havoc around the world (such as the hepatitis that is mysteriously causing liver failure in kids all over the world, many of whom had confirmed cases of recent COVID and adenovirus). COVID is now the most transmissible virus in recorded history, and it became as such in just under two year’s time. Ebola is also an epidemic again, with the second death confirmed today; animals are seeing their own viral outbreaks, including hemorrhagic rabbit disease, and bird flu has been spreading through out North America for a while now.

As if this weren’t enough, today China announced its first confirmed case of H3N8 influenza in a human. This sort of just flew under the radar of the news cycle, but anyone that knows anything about avian influenza knows that this is bad news. There are several types that, if they become more transmissible between humans, will obliterate half the human race. This is not hyperbolic either; at least one avian flu cropping up monthly now has a greater-than 50% mortality rate.

It seems like disease is spreading more far and widely than ever before, and it’s mutating and adapting to be able to jump from animal to human to animal again with increased speed as well. I’ve seen enough documentaries to know that this was to be expected as a piece of the climate changing – our ecosystem is changing, and in many ways falling apart.

But again… what if this isn’t just arbitrary and minor change, but rather the beginning of the catastrophe?

Last week, right before Earth Day, several scientists got a little blurb at the bottom of the news screen for chaining themselves outside their office building to raise attention to the pending doom the world faces if drastic measures are not taken. The United Nations then issued a statement saying we have 36 weeks to reduce carbon emissions from every major carbon emitter in the world; and this doesn’t even take into account the real thing not being discussed: methane from commercial farming. (Why is no one talking about this?) Then, on Earth Day, a Buddhist and climate activist lit himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court over the catastrophe descending upon us all.

And then, everyone just went about their weekends.

But what if these warnings are too late? Obviously they’ve mostly fallen on deaf ears, and the media cannot be bothered to report on them, or even when they do to do so with the urgency of the message contained. Don’t Look Up wasn’t supposed to be a How To manual, but it sure as hell seems that it is being treated as one. And what if we really are too late? Certainly, I’ve seen some scientists on Twitter suggest that at this point, it’s about survival. I know you’ve all seen some of those takes too. When we look at the way our government is handling COVID at this stage (well, all along)… maybe that’s true.

Maybe they even already know.

It’s a grim thought, but when you look at the somewhat-state of nature, post-apocalyptic world we live in today, it’s hard not to see this as the actual turning point. The point from which we realize there is no return. Through the last two years of this pandemic, the world has also seen bizarre weather phenomenon – hurricanes of untold strength, tornadoes where tornadoes typically don’t … land… I’m not suggesting a Biblical apocalypse (though I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if one day we see people shooting up into the sky, should God and the Rapture actually be what’s real).

I’m saying that what I see COVID as now is the beginning of the climate crisis that scientists have been warning us about for years. And just as the COVID variants changed in ways and on a timeline that defied the science as we knew it, the climate crisis and how it will play out has as well.

And it makes sense to me – a non-scientist. In the climate catastrophe, everything we knew about the empirical world changes. The true hubris of modern science leads us to believe we know exactly how and when it will all happen, but the truth is: we don’t. COVID reminds us of that. …that science really doesn’t know until after the fact. After it has data it can test with. Like the way economists don’t know a recession has occurred until after we’ve been in it for several months, couldn’t scientists not know the climate catastrophe has begun until after it’s had a while to observe and gather the data?

This certainly makes sense to me.

People always say “yeah, if we handled COVID this poorly, just think how we’ll handle climate change!” Except COVID is climate change. COVID has been made worse by the organic processes that result of a changing climate; just as the human behaviors that caused the changing climate have fed into the trajectory of the pandemic. But I think it’s time to delineate between climate change, and climate catastrophe. Between the slide to the end, and the end.

What if COVID isn’t the slide to the end? What if COVID is the beginning of the end?

Stop Calling This A War

The global pandemic we currently find ourselves in is, without a doubt, not a war. It is not. Analogizing it to one is both incorrect, and irresponsible.

Let’s walk through this.

Credit: Classic Art Memes @Facebook

Donald Trump Is Not A War Time President

Early on, after finally admitting that the virus causing COVID-19 infections and deaths around the world was actually a problem (and not just a hoax brought on by the fake news and Democratic party), Donald Trump switched gears and decided this was “the unseen enemy.” He was to be our honorable Commander in Battle.

While it is tempting to label this virus an enemy, as we do with a lot of medical maladies, really it’s just a talking point. A talking point for the victims who fall ill with it to feel empowered; a talking point for those who swoop in with remedies to claim victory.

But Donald Trump is not a war time president, and this is not a war. It’s is a global pandemic of a highly communicable virus, that in rare instances causes mortality. Unfortunately, at the present, enough instances are proving to occur on the whole that the mortality rate is quite high for us, in a healthcare system that was taxed going in.

Allowing Donald Trump to overshadow the egregious and flagrant wrong-doings in the prior days, weeks, months, and years of his Presidency – including, but certainly not limited to, the fact that only months ago he, a sitting President, was Impeached on counts of Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress – to overshadow all of that, and come out of this spinning the inevitable success of modern medical science into his position as a war hero (conveniently in time for the 2020 Presidential election) would make every person that ever likened this to a war complicit in the necessary election win that would come with that honor.

Donald Trump is not a war time President. This is not a war.

Credit: Chris Murphy CT @Twitter

Frontline Workers Are Not Soldiers In Battle

This is probably my point that will flare the most feathers, but before jumping to conclusions, hear me out.

The sacrifices and risks associated with working in any quote-unquote essential line of work right now are, unmistakably, great. In particular, those that work in medicine, pharmacy, even janitors in the hospital setting; and especially in light of the on-again off-again relationship they have with adequate and complete personal protective equipment – well, those people are by and large in hot water from now until the time a vaccine is readily available.

So are the grocery workers, who have every cough, sniffle, and sneeze effectively sprayed all over them several times a day. So are a lot of people that continue to work to allow the rest of us to afford such luxuries as food, water, and electricity.

But they ain’t soldiers. We will not be erecting a monument to them that looks like doctors, nurses, and janitors Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima. They may receive additional compensation and pay for risk assessment and to incentivize them to work, but it is not hazard pay.

This isn’t a measure to disrespect or discredit the work they are doing, and the sacrifices they are making. Do not mistake me: they are heroes.

Infectious diseases happen, and while COVID-19 is new and a lot about it is unknown, it is a part of the job. It is a part of the call to duty that came well before that person in the wet market in China even thought about eating the undercooked bat. Every time you step foot in a medical facility, there is always the element of the unknown. Sure, this time it is higher of a probability that you could catch it. But even I wonder to myself whenever I’ve had to take my kids to the emergency room for a sports injury or high fever: you know, I wonder if the person in the room next to us has bacterial meningitis and here I am exposed to it. Because it is a very real possibility, and that possibility is always there.

And there are two things most dangerous about likening the “frontliners” as we now like to call them with warriors in the trenches of something like WWI, or possibly worse: it sets a dangerous precedent for their own personal actions that could, in effect, result in even more death.

For one, in continues on this dangerous “take one for the team” mantra we Americans like to espouse. Arguably, this mantra is one of the things that got us here in the first place. We don’t feel well. We have chills, body aches, maybe a cough. But your [insert workplace] needs you. You are so essential that if you call in sick, the ship will go down. So you go to work, and infect several more people, putting more stress on the system than what would have come of you just staying home for a few days until you got the all clear from your immune system.

A more dangerous one:

Early on in the worst of Italy’s days, a nurse committed suicide because she started feeling a little punky, and decided to swab herself. She tested positive for COVID-19, and rather than just recover as 98% of other people do, she committed suicide to prevent spreading the disease to anyone else. Dangerous does not even begin to describe the precedent that we set when we then venerate this poor, clearly unwell, woman as something like a kamikaze doing the right thing by her country.

Tangential to this as well is the fact that the vast majority of people working in these essential jobs deserve a recognition of their own. Like the firefighters and many police after 9/11, or actual soldiers that have fought and won wars for centuries, their position in this is unique and should be treated accordingly. (Perhaps a monument would be appropriate, somewhere and at some point… but to replicate Iwo Jima would be a discredit to both today’s and yesterday’s heroes.)

Credit: Classic Art Memes @Facebook

The Messaging Is Blinding Us With Fear

In World War II, the messaging and propaganda was so profound, particularly in European countries in opposition to the allies (mainly, Germany) that people were so blinded by fear of the war, that they largely did not see what was going on right in front of their faces. The same went for Americans: blinded by the fear of another costly and deadly battle, Americans resisted involving themselves in the war – in spite of the humanitarian crisis that had unfolded in the Jewish and “undesirable” communities in Europe.

This is what happens in a war: diplomatic and political messaging is so critical for the community to get on board with whatever the agenda of the leadership of the time happens to be. Everyone does it. Now, in treating this like a war, our community leaders and politicians are doing it again.

Every week seems to have some sort of a theme to it. The first was all about the exponential growth charts, and statistical analyses, and the Johns Hopkins interactive website. The second were 45 paragraph letters from Emergency Room physicians who are really so busy they aren’t sleeping much, but also have the time to write lengthy explanations of exactly why we should be concerned about COVID-19. The third week was the rash of viral posts from Italy. Warnings to Americans. Rising death tolls. And that horrible video of the woman leafing through the obituary pages that went on and on and on, as if we weren’t sad enough about this already. The fourth week started the stay at home campaign, which continues today; coupled with a lot of mixed messaging coming from all sides of the political spectrum. Take the hydrochloroquine, but don’t. It works, but Trump touted it so probably skip it. Listen to your doctor, question him. Bill Gates is a hero, I don’t trust what he says. Open the economy, no don’t. Go for a walk to get exercise, just kidding that’s a bad idea. Dip your groceries in bleach, wait just kidding soap and water is fine bleach will kill you.

It is exhausting just listening to all of this: the analysis and the arguing and the incessant viral postings about what this politician did wrong and what that politician said, and who is complicit in this and who is a hero, and PPE and bats and … and … and …

This is the point of propaganda, and while I’m not likening what Trump, his “task force,” and more local governments are doing right now to what the Germans did in WWII, there is definite messaging going on here. If there weren’t, we wouldn’t have new buzz phrases, like “in these unprecedented times,” and “we are navigating through unchartered waters,” and – my newest favorite, “we are here to meet this moment.” You also wouldn’t have gotten probably 600 emails from every place you have ever shopped or spent money at, in an effort to let you know what increased measures they were doing to keep things safe and clean – all the same copy and pasted letter full of buzz words and messaging that was meant to calm your nerves, but only – instead – piqued your fears.

What happens when we are afraid in times of war and stress is we act irrationally. We fight with our community members, we shutter our hearts to those in need. A nursing home in my community got flack a week ago for telling a patient he could not return because he had suffered from COVID-19, even though he had recovered and tested negative two subsequent times before being released from the hospital. A homeless man a town over was unable to get a propane bottle for his camping stove, that allows him to cook his food and keep himself warm, because it is now considered a “non-essential good.” One woman in a Mom’s Facebook group I am in locally sparred it out with me about this, when I commented on a post about it asking how we could help him. The defining moment of our argument was when she said that because we live in California – “no one is going to freeze to death!”

Credit: Cracked @Facebook

The Social Contract In Times Of War

Few people realize that what is going on right now in our own communities from a public policy perspective is a matter of the social contract that we all live in as American citizens. The basic premise of our structure in society and government is that in exchange for the protection of our overarching body of government and government leaders (and all the services that come with it, including public hospitals, police, and fire), we are willing to in effect sacrifice certain freedoms and liberties in exchange for that protection. The idea comes from the great political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, whose writings inspired our revolutionary forefathers when he said:

“Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry… no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (see: The Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes)

It’s a bit wordy, so I’ll break it down for you: if left to our own devices at certain times in society, life would be unnecessarily awful and painful; and would end quickly, whether we liked it or not. Sometimes, let us help you. You just have to give up a little for us to be able to do that – in times of war, mainly. But pandemics are also times that it could be argued we have to retain less to be able to live more.

As soon as Trump started declaring National Emergencies, Major Natural Disasters, and referring to himself as a wartime president, the road was paved for every Tom, Dick, and Harry politician, from big time national leadership, all the way down to Mo, your local City Councilman who shows up for the council meeting drunk and in his swim trunks every week, the diplomatic and political power to chip away at those freedoms and liberties we hold so dear to us, in the name of the social contract and protection in times of turmoil.

Do I think that there are a lot of measures that do – absolutely – need to be taken to curb the spread of the novel virus that causes COVID-19? Absolutely. Shutting down bars, movie theaters, churches… that all makes sense. Social distancing and increased hygiene and safety measures – absolutely.

But locally, at least where I am, we have gone far afield from just shuttering non-essential businesses and asking people to stay home as much as possible. Now, here in California, cities are requiring by law that people wear face coverings, even when just driving down the street to get their mail. Alone. They’ve shut down sections of stores that disconnected and privileged city officials think can wait a while, like the clearance clothing racks at a local Wal Mart – in a community that houses thousands of migrant workers who are low income and do not have access to computers to simply order online.

Overreach doesn’t really describe what is going on here. And while I get it: we need to stay in, we need to physically distance, we also have to live our lives.

In recent days, I have talked to several seniors that are either family, or friends of family. They all sounded the same, exact resounding chord: they appreciate the community trying to protect them, the most vulnerable; but at this point, quality of life is an issue, and this is not a life worth living. One where you cannot go for a walk in the warm sun, or have the smallest of gatherings with less than 10 people seems cruel.

Perhaps the most striking thing told to me, which I then heard a physician – a medical doctor – echo on television about his own 87 year old mother’s sentiment: what if I die in isolation here, and I have never had the opportunity to hug my grandchildren one more time?

Certainly, the social contract is a necessary part of what keeps us alive. But only in war should it be evoked to such the degree that it is being evoked in communities through out America right now. And this is not a war.

It is tempting to liken this global pandemic to a battle. It requires strength, perseverance, and fight within all of us to get through whatever effects we feel from it – be they physical illness, economic hardship, or mental health belaboring as a result of the physical and social restrictions placed on us. But it is not a war. And we are not warriors.

Credit: Heather Christena Schmidt @HeatherChristenaSchmidt.com

The Real Reason You Shouldn’t Go Out (Or Take Your Kids Out) Sick

It’s cold and flu and cough season.

c9598d3bc7624ecf9cca8366809f3dbf.jpg

I have had a cough for three weeks now. Obviously no longer at the point of being contagious, I have resumed regular life; although I still get dirty looks every time I hack or clear my throat in the grocery store.

You see: most normal and reasonable people know how terribly uncouth it is to go out of the house sick. It’s tacky as fuck to show up at a party, or worse – to throw one – ill. Similarly, it is not *taking one for the team* when you show up to work with your barf bag.

And your kids… taking your kids anywhere ill makes you a dick.

There. Someone had to say it. And it’s an absolute truth.

I remember a while ago, somewhere around the beginning of the fall – when the coughs and the colds and the stomach bugs started cropping up around the country – there was an article shared by Scary Mommy about a woman who went to her kid’s play with the Norovirus. I’m certain that the intention of the article was to be about how when moms get sick, they still have to struggle through the muck and yuck of parenting; it was intended to be a valiant tale, but instead it served more as a cautionary exaggeration of what extent some people will go to never take a day off.

It is true that moms still have to do stuff while sick. But they don’t have to do all the stuff.

The woman explicitly described getting off a flight on a business trip with a rumbling in her stomach, which turned into explosive diarrhea – not only in her bathroom, but in multiple and explicitly described incidences in her pants. She then went on, however, not to rest in bed or keep her Norovirus at home; but to go to her kid’s school play. Not because her husband or a friend or neighbor or classmate couldn’t just take the kid. Because she didn’t want to feel the guilt of missing out on the little guy’s part as Tiny Tim (or whateverthefuck the kid was cast as).

She claimed to have vomited in the bush in the school parking lot; and to have shat her pants multiple times while in the theater.

Now the thought of anyone going out that ill seems a bit far fetched to me, but let’s say – for the sake of conversation – she did.

My response to that is simply: you selfish pile of shit.

ff31283ef46544b7aa1191520d65139a

There are a few times in which it is genuinely excusable to go in public while ill:

  1. If your boss legitimately tells you that you will be fired if you do not show up;
  2. If you have no sick pay and it won’t just be a tight month if you take that day off, but you will definitely and without a doubt be unable to pay rent;
  3. If you are simply heading to CVS to pick up your prescriptions or over the counter medications for said illness;
  4. If you really and truly and without a doubt are mistaken and believe your child is just faking it, having checked his or her temperature; and,
  5. Never.

I can think of a million and one ways to make it work while you are sick, in a variety of situations that people regularly claim they just can’t make it work. I just did it, myself. If you are a single parent or your spouse is gone all the time, you can still do curbside drop offs of your kids; you can explain to the organizers of the bake sale that you are very ill and will have to just contribute money instead. If you are the organizer of the bake sale, you still have volunteers that will probably appreciate you keeping your germs at bay. Groceries can always be ordered via delivery now. Three days before Christmas? Well you’re in luck, Amazon Prime is there to help you.

We no longer live in an age where conveniences are unavailable to us in our time of need; and to anyone that says that’s just out of their budget, most of the conveniences are cheaper anyway.

The list could go on; people offer excuse after excuse after excuse for reasons they go out sick, and seemingly none of them are justifiable. Many of them are rooted in being worried about what other people will think, or worse, an inability to set boundaries. And – for the most part – it lies somewhere between careless selfishness and un-compassionate narcissism.

I know a woman with several kids, which means they always seem to be battling some sort of illness. She takes her kids everywhere, knowingly ill. They go to restaurants, to birthday parties, to Universal Studios and Disneyland – you name it, they do it. I can’t help but wonder if the kids are pretty miserable, being dragged around ill; and her life becomes something like a roadmap for me of places I should avoid.

And just like the valiant writer of the Scary Mommy article in the beginning of fall, there is absolutely no reason for it. Your kids will not die if they have chicken noodle soup from a can for dinner instead of In N Out while they are battling Influenza A. And I’m sure the mothers of the other children at the birthday party your precious flower was invited to will appreciate you keeping your son’s contagious diarrhea at home.

It’s one thing when people are in that gray area between incubation and symptoms, where you are still contagious but not yet knowing you are ill. It’s another thing to have just vomited an hour prior to leaving your home.

The rules go like this:

  1. 24 hours after the breaking of a fever, for anything that included a fever (including a “teething fever,” which is actually an old wives tale – teething causes pain, that’s it…everything else is a coinciding illness);
  2. 3 full first days of a cold, whether a fever is present or not (viral upper respiratory infection);
  3. 72 hours after the last time you vomited or had diarrhea;
  4. PLUS,
    1. two full weeks of extra hand washing;
    2. two full weeks of minimal exposure to the elderly or immunocompromised;
    3. two full weeks of not preparing food for anyone but yourself and immediate family; and
    4. warning people you’ve been ill but are past the active contagion period if you actually have to do any of those things anyway.

These aren’t my rules, they are the rules of every health- and doctor-related organization and agency in existence.

360c74d516c7829f25f76a4a8a7367bf--facebook-party-nursing-assistant

Here’s the reason why:

While it may seem like a quick bug for you and your family to get over, or a simple illness that wasn’t even very severe to you; it is a matter of life and death for another person.

There are so many people in this world, all of them with a slightly different health and body circumstance than you. You may think you don’t know someone with a situation that could turn a simple bug into a death sentence, but you do.

You do when you go to In N Out. You do when you go to your kid’s school play. You do when you talk to your neighbor while picking up the mail.

Your kid may run just a fever, but to someone with diabetes or shingles or cancer, they will end up in the hospital for five weeks on a respirator.

You may think it’s just a little upset stomach, but to an elderly man with a recent liver transplant, it’s dehydration and death.

You don’t know the health situations of anyone but your immediate family; you may think you do, but you don’t.

To go out knowingly ill, because you are hungry and want a burger; or because your kids are bored, and yeah they’ve been vomiting for a couple days, but the worst seems to be over and they’re getting stir crazy…this makes you a fucking asshole.

To take your child to their school party or team playoff with a fever or a sore throat makes you a jerk as well. As I read about that woman who went to her kid’s school play with the Norovirus, I thought to myself: my God, what if this is true? What if there was an elderly man in the audience that caught it and died because of this woman’s selfishness? Because she didn’t want to feel GUILTY?!

And this is why I’ve had it. I can handle the crud that comes into my house via my three adorable and snot-filled children; but what I can’t handle is watching people knowingly expose others because they don’t want to miss out.

So your kids are going stir crazy or you just want to get out of the house anyway – too fucking bad. Shockingly, life is not all about you, or your little factory of germs.

My No-Vomit Rule, and Other Assorted Hypochondrias

CLOROX-PROFESSIONAL-CLO02467

I’ve had writer’s block for going on two months now. Haven’t written a thing; in fact, I haven’t even tried. I just stopped caring, and I’m not sure why. But I knew the urge to write, and to write on this blog, would come swooping back at some point.

Swooping back like a hard and fast case of explosive diarrhea.

I’m a bit of an hypochondriac. By that I mean I sanitize everything – pretty much – every day. I just really don’t like being sick, and more than not liking being sick, I don’t like caring for people that are sick. Because then I get sick, and moreover I’m filled with this overwhelming sense of a) guilt that I cannot do anything, really, to take it away; and, b) there is always that ever looming fear of “what if?” What if this is something worse? I’ve read enough Huffington Post articles about a woman that goes in for a routine check up and dies one week later of some obscure form of melanoma; I’ve heard about MERS making its way around the United States.

I know how many of you now don’t vaccinate your kids…

In any event, to curb illness, and my own cases of heebie-jeebies, I have some rules in the house. Relative to my hypochondria, that is.

Rule 1. No vomiting. I know you are all thinking that this is insane, and never works – BUT …this actually works as a rule a fair amount of the time. Everyone knows that Mom can’t handle vomit, so they do their best to keep their nausea down when ill, or at the very least just tell themselves they are fine until it comes out the other end. Too graphic? Well, blowing chunks is too graphic to me and since I’m the one who has to clean everything up around here, they (usually) control it.

Rule 2. Always ALWAYS ALWAYS wash your hands when returning home. From anywhere. I don’t give a flying fig if you just stepped outside to let the dog pee for 30 seconds. You leave the house, you wash your hands. Very simple, works like a charm.

Rule 3. If Mom says you are sick, you are fucking sick. My husband and my father (both of whom live in our home) have this habit of being sick but denying it. “No, I don’t have a cold, it’s just an allergy…” “No I don’t have a stomach bug, my body is just doing its own colon cleanse…”

Bullshit on that noise. If I say you are sick, you are sick and you will act accordingly (as in, stay away from everyone else in the house and DO NOT – whatever you do – go to work/school/playdates/extra-curriculars/etc to just make things worse).

On a related note, I’d say that about 95% of the time, I’m right. Even with the dog – who we just adopted a week ago, and I just knew wasn’t feeling well. Everyone said I was being paranoid, but I insisted and now she’s on antibiotics for suspected pneumonia from kennel cough (a relic of being a shelter dog just over a week ago before we brought her home).

Rule 4. If you are sick, and you know you are sick – you have accepted it into your heart as absolute truth, independent of whatever denial you have put yourself through prior to said acceptance – just let Mom know. Just let her know! Give her a shout out! A text, a Tweet, a trail of snot rags to the end result of a note on the fridge saying “I clearly have a cold…” WHATEVER. Just let me know, because then I can sanitize the shit out of the house, preventing others from getting your plague.

I think we fair pretty well on the iron fist of my glaring, and probably unhealthy, hypochondria.

But it doesn’t go without its problems. By that, I mean that I usually always assume people in the house are sick. Germy. Ready to spew everywhere, or at the very least take an uncontrolled dump on my nicely cleaned carpeting. See, the thing about hypochondria and paranoia about germs is you realize that all those sons of bitches around you don’t think like you do. Suddenly everyone is the enemy – germy, disgusting, unclean enemies just trying to make you ill. Their hands are not riddled with eczema from excessive hand washing. Their lungs are not coated with a thin layer of Clorox solution from daily inhalation of the fumes that waft up from the constant scrubbing of surfaces that would be riddled with germs, had it not been for your daily sanitization routine.

You see? I’m PSYCHOTIC.

Like I said: I’ve read the articles. I’ve seen the bacteria booth at the county fair that shows you how much shit is caked all over your household. It’s disgusting. Really, I think a slash-and-burn style approach to all of our things would be best, but then we’d need to be independently wealthy and have no moral qualms with intentionally destroying all of our things and starting anew, just because I may be slightly a-kilter in the mental health department.

So when my husband pounds down food and beverage in a way that is both unsavory to watch, and unholy to his innards; and subsequently gives himself a case of explosive diarrhea … well, I flip the fuck out. Maybe explosive diarrhea is a bit of an exaggeration – what do I know, he doesn’t share the details with me, and all I have is the mess to clean up (ewwwww, gross, is the only thought you should be having there…), but just imagine this…

In less than twelve hours, you consume: a large cup of coffee, a half a loaf of banana bread, a taco salad layered in salsa and avocado, two Bud Light Limes, a turkey dog, a plate of salted watermelon, two corn on the cobs, baked potato chips with far too much olive oil, a large energy drink, another cup of coffee, and another half a loaf of banana bread… well, if you consume that, your tum tum might be a little achy, seeing as about 3/4 of those things act as natural laxatives. If you consumed all of that in that short period of time, you should be going to bed saying to yourself: “self…tomorrow seems to be a good day for diarrhea.”

But do I just think that my husband having a gut ache and a bad case of “I ate an entire box of Ex-Lax” is your standard fair, and worth nothing more than an “I hope you feel better?” Oh hell no. Even after he told me that at lunchtime he basically resumed porking down food at unprecedented rates, I sat rocking back and forth like the Rainman of disease paranoia, wondering just to what lengths I should go to rid our home of his dreaded germs.

I just – basically – cleaned the entire house, from top to bottom. I sanitized everything IN RUBBER LATEX GLOVES …just to be safe. And I asked him about fifteen times if he was sure he’s better now, which he is (obviously). Then the only thing I could think to do was sit down with my glass of wine – the smell of Clorox fresh in my nose – and write a blog about it.

So that – ladies and gentlemen – are the illness-related rules in our house, the public proof of my clear psychosis, and the story of how my husband’s bowels ended my terrible bout of writer’s block.

Thanks honey.

A Day With the Doctor

603285_652200149063_1901939367_n

Cold and flu season is in full swing (actually, it has been for a little over a month), so naturally this means our annual trek to the doctor when actually sick inevitably occurs. Because we homeschool, we don’t have quite all the health snafus that other families do; however, it still crops up.

This brings up a whole other set of pet peeves that I have, though. Being a hypochondriac, I naturally have a number of issues with matters of health. But then there is an entire other set of things that just drive me absolutely bonkers when it comes to getting sick.

Pet Peeve #1: When People Hang Around You Ill

Fucktards is what I like to call those people. No offense or anything if you are one of those people that is so inconsiderate that you think it is totally OK to go to a party or to work or to pretty much anywhere ill, but it’s not. I understand people who are given a hard time by their employers, but then it’s the employers that are the fucktards because – for real – sickness spreads when people don’t stay home.

When you or your family is sick, they can get other people sick. And who the fuck are you to get people sick against their will?

Say you go to a party and your kid is sick. Say he has the flu (ahem … that is how we got sick over a month ago at this point …). Say there is a senior citizen at this party that has a compromised immune system and a heart problem. You obviously don’t know that he does, but you also don’t know that he doesn’t. He holds your little bag of disease and then the old guy dies of the complications from the flu two weeks later.

The point is that no one knows what health issues others have but them. Which means as a decent human being, someone sick should stay home. It may not be a big deal to you, but it can always kill someone else.

Pet Peeve #2: Patient Care Is Our #1 Priority

Every time I walk into our doctor’s office, I see this sign that says “patient care is our #1 priority.” It’s a wonder my blood pressure readings always come up low, though, for this is the biggest annoyance to me, probably on the entire planet.

If patient care is your #1 priority, then why is it that four weeks ago I was told to go to the emergency room because you couldn’t fit me in for a week? If patient care is your #1 priority, then why is it that no one ever called me back after I phoned four times? If patient care is your #1 priority, then why did you never call in the prescriptions you told me you were calling in the minute you walked out the door?

I recently read an article that reported a study the CDC recently did, which stated that the majority of doctors in America right now are going to visits, not treatment. What that means is that doctors could care less about treating their patients,  and keeping people healthy. What they care about is getting copays.

Pet Peeve #3: Doctor Time

Have you ever been told that it was going to be five or ten minutes, only for it to wind up to be an hour and a half? That’s what happened to us today. Our appointment was at 12:50. I checked in at 12:30. She told me 5 minutes. At 2:15, we were finally taken in.

There were two other people in the waiting room.

A little known fact by you faithful blog followers is that for six years while in college, I was a full-time pharmacy technician. For 40 hours a week, I schlepped drugs, wrote employee schedules, argued with insurance companies, and handled all the other random crap the pharmacy manager didn’t want to handle.

I never once told a patient it would be 5 minutes.

Nothing makes someone that is tired and sick and feeling awful more frustrated than being lied to. I’m sure that enough people at our doctor’s office have been outraged when told it was going to be 30 or more minutes to make these horrible women lie and say it would be 5 when it was clearly going to take longer. That doesn’t make it OK for them to lie in such an egregious fashion.

I suppose I’m just a little turned off right now because we have all been sick for going on four weeks now. We were sick through Christmas. We were sick through New Years. When I called to get in a few weeks ago, I was told “tough shit.” What kind of a society do we live in where we can’t get ahold of our doctors when we need them? What the fuck is the point of even having a doctor, then?

We are one of two days worth of doctor’s appointments down and I am hoping this is the end for the season. Unless, of course, we picked up any other manner of illnesses from the doctor’s office while waiting to be seen, which raises a whole other set of pet peeves altogether.

Dear Ignorant Parents That Refuse to Vaccinate Your Children

This post has sadly been removed due to publication and copyright laws. You can still read it, though, by buying B(itch) Against the World for unlimited viewing, plus more great and new posts from 2011. And it’s only $2.99! Click the picture of the cover for more details!