Bacteriology 101

“Don’t touch your face!” I constantly warned my children during cold and flu season. Children’s fingers tend to gravitate toward the nearest nostrils.  “Bad germs that can make you sick like to live in your nose,” I would instruct, “and sometimes in your eyes.” Then I would direct them, “Scrub your hands and don’t stop until you’ve sung the entire ABC song!” But somehow those little buggers made it to the gateway needed to set up camp in a nostril, or two, and then wreak havoc in our household. Out came the thermometer, Tylenol, cough syrup and case of Kleenex, along with a new set of rules. “Cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough!”

Today I sit with a box of Kleenex at my side, blowing and sniffling, while sucking on a Zicam tablet. While I don’t allow any of my fingers to nostril hang, apparently, at some point I broke my own proverbial rule and “touched my face,” or I was privy to someone’s uncovered cough, or sneeze. I’d like to believe that it was the latter of the two. Either way, an undetected viral organism made it’s stealth transfer into my body and has made itself at home.

When I was in college, one of my required science classes was Bacteriology. I learned more about bacteria than I ever wanted to know. The more I viewed the squirmy, crawly organisms under the microscope, the more I was aware of their encroachment of my surrounding environment. They became my invisible enemy. I envisioned them on my countertops, doorknobs and sink faucets. When I got into my car, they were on the door handles, steering wheel and stick-shift. I battled against them as I scrubbed and disinfected all surfaces of possible contamination. But when my husband took me out to dinner, they were at the restaurant too. I grabbed my little cleaning cloth from my purse and wiped down my fork, knife and spoon prior to use. The first time I did this, my husband took a quick glance around the room, then leaned toward me and whispered, “What are you doing?” I blinked. Didn’t he know the dangers that may lay on the surface of the utensils that he was about to put into his mouth? It was apparent by the look on his face that he did not, so I informed him. “You have no idea who has touched those, and whether or not they washed their hands first – they could be infected with E.Coli for all you know!” He rolled his eyes and retorted, “You are beginning to sound paranoid!” To which I replied, “I’d rather be paranoid than dead!” I’m afraid that it didn’t end there.

One day while working on my home decontamination plan, my husband said, “You know, you can’t avoid germs, they are in the air you breathe.” I promptly went to the closet and grabbed the Lysol spray and fumigated every room in the house with it. When I realized we were beginning to run out of oxygen, I relented to opening up all the windows.

I’m not sure when my germ paranoia began to fade. Perhaps it was my mother reminding me that I had made it through the first two decades of my life in good health. She informed me that in my first few years of toddling around on this planet, that I had eaten with dirty hands on more than one occasion and once had bitten a live snail in half. That totally grossed me out and I told her that she could have kept that information to herself. Perhaps it was reading health related articles about the overuse of antibacterials, that we were killing the good bacteria that protects us while trying to kill the bad stuff. Or coming to realization that mom was right (as well as my all-natural friend who refuses to use hand sanitizers), that we are made with an immune system that works, short of a serious condition, and some exposure to germs may actually be good for us. Eventually, my germ phobia dissolved. But I do have to admit that I still occasionally wipe down my steering wheel and stick shift in my car with an antibacterial wipe.

Yesterday my husband came home and promptly placed his work bag on top of the freshly cleaned kitchen counter. I asked him if he would put it on the floor instead since it wasn’t clean enough to be on the countertop. He said that it wasn’t dirty, that it had only been on his truck floor – and that was clean. I wanted to give him the entire run down on how bacteria is invisible to the naked eye, and how life threatening bacteria can be transferred to kitchen countertops and into the food we eat. But instead I replied, “Would you lick your truck floor?” Point made.

Old habits die hard.


Cyber Tells

Recently,  I was at the lab waiting to have my blood drawn when I noticed that I had a text message waiting on my cell phone. I opened it and found that someone apparently had the wrong number, as they were looking for a fellow named “Nick.” I didn’t want them to think that “Nick” was ignoring them, and so, with the intent of being helpful, I hit reply and sent a quick note saying that this was not Nick’s number. A minute or so later, I received a reply, “YOU HAVE THE WRONG NUMBER.” I was a bit taken back by the all caps reply. I blinked while looking at my cell phone screen intently and thought, “Are you yelling at me?” After all, I wasn’t the one with the wrong number! I was only trying to be helpful! I thought about this as the all caps stared back at me without batting an eye. Humph! I thought. If this person had a half of a brain, they’d know that I hit reply and was responding to a message that came straight from their cell phone! They had the wrong number, not me! My pulse increased and my blood began to race through my veins.

This is ridiculous, I thought, and then the left side of my brain said, “Just put your phone back into your purse and let it go.” But the helpful, right side of my brain reasoned that I should educate this dim-witted person about how the “reply” button on a cell phone works. The right side won out. And so, I hit the reply button once again. I gave a short explanation that I had received a message sent from their phone for someone by the name of “Nick,” and that I was responding only to let them know that THEY HAD THE WRONG NUMBER. And yes, I did use capitalization in my response. Now the person on the receiving end must have had lightening speed thumbs because I received a reply within 30 seconds, “ONCE AGAIN YOU HAVE THE WRONG NUMBER.” This time I knew that speedy thumbs was yelling at me – and it had to be a woman. After all, a man wouldn’t bother using capitalization. A man wouldn’t have bothered to respond to a misdirected text in the first place. He would ignore it, assuming that the other person would figure things out. He wouldn’t care that poor old Nick was going to be in hot water when he came home for dinner that night. It didn’t matter that Nick wouldn’t have a clue why he was in trouble, because he never received the text from his female counterpart. I felt bad for poor Nick, having to come home after a hard day’s work to Ms. Capitalization. But a man’s response would be simple, “Whoever Nick is, he’ll figure it out.”

I sat in my chair and clinched my teeth. I thought about all kinds of capitalization’s I could respond with. Then I heard the technician call my name. I followed her to the back room and took a seat. She swabbed my arm and was delighted to find a nice big vein to poke. “Wow!” she said, “You’ve got some nice veins popping up here!” I smiled in response, but thought, “If you only knew.” I held my cell phone in the opposite hand as I watched my blood shoot into the glass tube. The technician chatted away about the lovely weather outside, but my mind was busy formulating a clever, all caps response to Ms. Cyber-thumbs. I thought I could make it short and sweet, something like, “PUT A CORK IN IT AND LEARN HOW TO USE YOUR CELL PHONE.” The technician placed a Band-aid on my arm and sent me on my way. I rotated my phone in my hand while I walked across the parking lot to my car. Then a small voice in my head told me to put my cell phone back into my purse and let it go. “Humph!” I mumbled. Then I tossed my phone into my purse, but kept the feed so I would recognize the number should I receive another misdirected text from HER again.

Over the next day or so, I forgot about my cyber-rage episode. Then I came across the feed while sending a text to a friend. I re-read the exchange and began to analyze the situation. I wondered if the text sender was just having a bad day, or if they needed serious counseling. I thought about how I had let this unknown text opponent get under my skin, and then wondered if I needed to seek counseling. It is amazing how quickly we can react to another person’s words, or actions. We can let these things interrupt our day, our week, or even our sleep. By allowing negative thoughts to take up residence in our mind, we can miss the good things that come our way. I feel a little sheepish having to admit that my human nature got the best of me – and it probably won’t be the last time it happens. But I do hope that I’ll remember that such minuscule things in life aren’t worth expelling energy on, that letting some things go is the best choice. I tell my kids that we can’t change other people, or how other people act, but we can change our own actions and attitudes. We can choose to focus on the positive. Kindness almost always wins out. It’s not easy to take the high road, but the view is so much better from there!

Proverbs 12:18


I had an injury a few weeks ago that fast became a pain in the neck – literally. I was referred by my physician for physical therapy for pain reduction and correction of vertebrae position. I wondered silently if they could do wrinkle reduction and upward positioning of other body parts while I was there…But I knew that solution lay in an entirely different sort of practice, and after envisioning myself in tight-eyed surprise, with lips of an Orangutan in a permanent cock-eyed smile, and – well, I’ll stop with that, I decided to deal with old-er age and gravity as it comes.

So today my physical therapist decided to use cervical traction as a part of my treatment. He said most people either love it, or hate it. My mind flashed a scene of my body being pulled in two different directions and me screaming out for mercy. But I agreed to give it a try.

Once the therapist placed my head into the contraption that would soon be elongating my physique, he cranked two small, curved bars inward to the sides of my neck to firmly secure my condyle(s), which according to the Greeks, are a rounded projection at the end of a bone that anchors muscle ligaments and articulates with adjacent bones. I wondered if this was comparable to the Terminator taking a firm grip around my neck. Next, he started squeezing a hand pump that moved the unit which embraced my head upward. With each squeeze, my head was pulled northward as my body stayed at the equator. While laying there I began to think about what I was allowing this person to do. I had entrusted him with a very essential part of my body. Although I had never seen his credentials, or checked the America’s most wanted list for his name, I trusted that he was a competent, licensed physical therapist. A slight perspiration began in my underarms, and I wished that I had used deodorant. As my head continued to inch upward, I pictured it like a cork, stuck into the end of a bottle of champagne and at any moment it was going to pop right off my shoulders, bounce off the ceiling and roll out the door. But before that happened, the therapist asked how I was doing. I replied, “I think that’s good.” Fifteen minutes later, I felt like a giraffe and I was free to roam about the room. All in all, I have to say it was worth it. I had a better view of the world below me and I was in less pain.

On my way home, I thought more about the trust I had placed in my physical therapist. He said that he could help me, and without question, I believed him and placed myself in his care. I had put my faith in him. Then I thought about my life, my future, and those I love. I say that I believe in the God of our universe – the one that actually created it, yet so often I hesitate to completely place all that I am and all those I love into his care. When my physical therapist brought out the traction unit, I didn’t say, “Uh, I’ll take it from here”, I let him do what he knew best, even when I was feeling some uncertainty during the process. I didn’t know what the outcome would be, what the future would hold for me, but I had faith that he knew what he was doing.  As I write this, I can see a golden sunset on the horizon that lay in contrast to the dark grey clouds that dominated the day. In my heart I am resolute to give the God that I trust all aspects of my life. I give him the dark clouds that can hover over my day, I give him the good, the bad, and the ugly. I entrust those who are a part of my life to his care, and I look to the horizon of my life with the hope and assurance that he’ll be there with me.

Trusting God with the unseen


I’m Divin’ In!

“Writers write!” I have been challenged by this proclamation and have been thinking about starting a blog for longer than I’d like to admit, and so 12 days ago I made a pact with a friend in which we would both start a blog within the next 14 days. She had her blog up and running 4 days later (Go Christina!). But I have contemplated what I would include in my first post for several days now, and I have contemplated the reasons for those contemplations. I have even edited my contemplations. I find this neurotic behavior somewhat disturbing.  So here I am standing on the unfamiliar shores of a lake called Blog – and I can hear the time clock ticking. It’s time to take the plunge and let the adventure begin!

I enjoy writing about the lessons I’ve learned, the adventures I’ve experienced, and the discoveries I’ve made as I journey through this life. My stories encompass my family, my friends, and my faith. I find that human behavior can be one of the most interesting, and often the most comical things to observe. We can learn a lot from each other, as well as provide free entertainment! I hope to do this with you as I tell you my stories, and as I hear yours in return.

So here I go! I’m divin’ in!

Next Newer Entries

Tamara’s Tweets

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

%d bloggers like this: