Wash my hands?!

Posted by Emily , Thursday, May 29, 2014 6:40 AM

As the end of the school year approaches, we have run out of kleenexes and disinfecting wipes among other things. Of course nobody wants to donate these things so I've been purchasing them and rationing them out. This along with the recent outbreak of strange viruses reminds me of a story. 


A couple of years ago I had a student who had a severe case of pinkeye. His parents kept bringing him to school, and I kept sending him straight to the nurse who would send him straight home. On the third day, he arrived with two bright red, oozing eyes. He was miserable. He was in my room for about 30 seconds before I handed him his backpack and sent him to the nurse. I immediately disinfected everything I could, including myself. The nurse called his mom and his parents were surprised, they were on their way to St. Louis and couldn't come get him ( are you KIDDING ME?!!). Eventually they found a relative who came and got him. Poor kid. 

Anyway, the next day I woke up and one of my eyes was a little itchy. Probably nothing, but I didn't want to end up like The Pinkeye Kid, so I made an appointment to get it checked out. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic just in case and then turned to me, very serious, and said, "you know, you really should make sure to wash your hands."

There are some parallels that exist between the medical profession and teaching profession. We both spend a lot of time around sick people, belligerent people, bodily fluids, etc.  However, it is socially acceptable for a doctor to wear a mask and rubber gloves and throw them away after each encounter with a disease-ridden individual. They have hospital grade soap and sanitizers, and they are allowed to use them!  And they don't have to wait until lunch to go to the bathroom and wash their hands. Their soap and paper towel dispensers are always fully stocked. Must be nice.

A teacher, on the other hand, is inside a school building with hundreds of germy children, some with no control over their bodily functions. They have watered-down, foam soap that might as well just be water, and half the time the soap dispensers are empty. They aren't allowed to use disinfectant because of allergies and chemicals, so they haveto sneak around and trade air fresheners and Clorox wipes on the down-low. 

So the next time a doctor looks at me and says "you really should wash your hands," I'm going to leap across the exam room and cough right in her eyeball.