Monday, April 28, 2014

3 Things I Know about Staying Healthy

My doctor told me not too long ago that I'm scandalously healthy for my age.  That was her word -- scandalously.  And my OB/GYN told me I am absolutely not to discuss my menopause experience with any of her other patients lest they, too, expect it to be easy, breezy, cotton candy and daisies.  (I promise that's the last time I'm bringing up menopause in this post.)

On the other hand, about 25 years ago, after my third (or was it fourth?  I forget...) serious bout of pneumonia, my doctor at that time told me that I could no longer afford to catch a cold.  Not even sniffles.  Forget about it.  Too risky.

Are you kidding me?  What do I do, put myself in a bubble?  Don a hazmat suit every time I want to hug my kids?  Well, actually, I figured out that a few very easy precautions can be surprisingly effective at warding off common contagious diseases.  For some people that is a big deal.  For others who have more important things to worry about than a little thing like a cold, come over here and let Granny give you a smack!  And then read on...

GrandDad Fabuloso and I went on a luxurious river cruise last year.  At the gangway onto the ship, and at each entrance to the dining area, there were permanently bolted-down, industrial-sized dispensers of hand sanitizer,  and every passenger was expected to use that sanitizer every time they embarked and every time they entered the area where food was served.  They actually posted crew members at the dispensers to remind people to do it.  Why?  River ships are small, enclosed environments -- floating Petri dishes, if you will.  And over time, our hosts had learned that this one, simple precaution was effective in preventing the spread of contagious disease among passengers and crew.  Interesting.  However...

I don't know about you, but my skin is much too sensitive for such harsh treatment all the time.  In my own home, I simply wash my hands frequently with soap and hot water.  I set small bars of luxurious, moisturizing soaps in beautiful dishes, and pretty bottles of hand lotion next to every sink in the house, and I use them.  Maybe 50 times a day.  Every time I pet the cat.  Every time I blow my nose.  Every time I clean up something dirty.  Every time I touch food -- before and after.  Every time I enter the house from outside.  Before I eat.  Before I hold a child.  Definitely after I hold a child!  Etc.  (Now if only I could get everyone in the house to do the same.  Because every time I grip the handrail that goes downstairs to the play room... Yuck!)

I read about a guy who was very susceptible to colds and influenza.  Every year, despite flu shots and other high-tech precautions, he was constantly getting sick, missing work, suffering miserably.  He experimented with one small change that turned out to be very, very effective:  At the bank, at the restaurant, at the grocery store, whenever someone asked for his signature and offered him a pen, he simply used his own instead.  With that one change alone, he stopped getting sick.  If you think about how many people that server waits on or that cashier checks out, it makes sense that you don't want to use that pen!  (They probably wish they didn't have to touch it, either.)

Being a granny is liberating in a number of ways.  One of them is that people just expect you to carry a big old purse and have all kinds of things at the ready.  Sanitizing wipes is one of my favorite things to carry in my granny purse.  You can buy small packs of wipes that dispense, reseal and fit neatly into your purse's zippered compartment for handy use in all kinds of filthy places.  Of course I use them in public restrooms, but there are even dirtier places that we all frequently occupy.  According to a university study sponsored by Clorox, the greatest number of germs are usually found on playground equipment.  (You aren't surprised, are you?)  The next dirtiest location is the handrest on any type of public seating.  And after that, the dirtiest thing you can touch is a grocery store cart!

In samples gathered from the handles and child seats of grocery carts in four different regions of the U.S., researchers identified human saliva, mucus, urine, feces, and bloody juices from raw meat.  Ever heard of E. coli, staphylococcus and salmonella?  They are lurking in the very spot where you set your bag of bread.  So the next time you are in the grocery store, pick up a pack of santizing wipes.  Pick them up first and swab down your cart before you pick up anything else!

With all that being said, I am aware that we can't sanitize the world.  Nor do we want to because we all need some amount of exposure to build up our immune systems.  But your kids will contact plenty of germs from playing with dirt and petting the dog and hugging their friends.  (And you will contact plenty of germs from hugging them!)  These suggestions, as simple and low-tech as they may be, are very effective at limiting exposure to the nastiest of nasties.  And that alone can make a huge difference in maintaining your good health.  I'm pretty sure about that.


  1. I use my own pen from my wallet everywhere I go. Sometimes I think I'm being a little OCD, but I think pens are probably one of the "dirtiest" things out there. My Mom would love this post... she has antibacterial cleaner on her at all times:)

    1. Give my regards to your mom! She sounds like a smart lady, and so do you. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I hardly knew when I went through menopause. I think everyone else noticed though... Thanks for stopping by For what it's worth-jeannie.

  3. That must have been horrible to get pneumonia so often! We always hear the reminders to wash hands often, but you still see people leaving the bathroom without washing hands…or with just a quick rinse. So gross. It’s all about lots of suds and hot, hot water!

    1. It's amazing what a difference that one thing can make. Thanks for stopping by!