Caution: This story is so humiliating that I didn’t even tell it to my husband for several days. And it took me all of a month to come back and read it and decide whether I’d cringe too much to share it here.
(I will, for the record, but alas. I am a blogger. And I have a duty to overshare.)
(But fortunately for you, you have no such duty to read. So turn off your computer now before it’s too late.)
I’ve been sick. A lot. Sickness tends to wear at you in many ways, and those ways are sometimes in conflict with one another, creating unsavory circumstances.
This story is a cautionary tale about one of those situations.
I was on my next-to-last day of antibiotics and worse than ever. My cough had kept me up half the night for the past four nights, I was an emotional wreck, and fearful that my lungs were completely full of pneumonia and I was going to die at any moment.
I had called my Mother that morning crying, because that’s what I do best when I haven’t slept in four days. And she, being the good mother that she is, was already making me homemade Chicken Soup, offered to keep my kids so I could return to the doctor, and visited every avenue of potential cough suppressants.
“You know what? I think I still have some of your Grandmother’s cough pearls…I need to check. She used to take these pearl thingies that worked WONDERFULLY. I’ll find them. I wonder if they’re still any good…?”
My Grandmother died SEVEN YEARS AGO.
I think I’ll pass. But thanks, Mom.
So I dropped my kids off at my parent’s and left before Mom could find her moldy drug stash, went to the doctor, discovered that I was not dying of pneumonia, and then went to the drug store to get my new prescriptions – prescriptions which, perhaps, my life depended upon.
I was careful not to breathe the air at the doctor’s office or in the pharmacy because I’d found out the day before that in addition to Dysautonomia, I have a seriously compromised immune system, so I would continue to catch every bug that floated along my path until they could decide on a treatment plan.
Must avoid all paths.
As I waited to pick up my prescriptions, I found myself in an extreme dire need of visiting the little girl’s room.
Stupid Dysautonomia water intake requirements.
I followed a giant, serious-looking, radio-chattering policeman down the restroom hall. Where I discovered that the bathroom available was one. And it was co-ed.
So I was going to have to wait.
I did a jig in the hallway, fearing how long that wait might be depending on the nature of his business inside. I tried not to listen to his radio chatter through the door.
Fortunately, he emerged quickly, so we crossed paths (me holding my breath in case of germs) and I went in.
And this is the point in the story where my lapse in judgment occurred.
I’ll admit it. I’m a public restroom sitter. Despite the fact that it’s unsavory to think about and one of my friends ruined me forever by forcing me to consider all of the butt-to-butt contact one does with other people by sitting on toilet seats, I will never be coordinated enough to be a squatter. And an uncoordinated squatter can lead to a significantly high amount of bathroom injuries…and therefore germs.
So I sat. And I was in such a Red Alert State of Need that I forgot to look or wipe the seat first.
And as fate would have it, that law enforcement officer had not been enforcing his own aim.
That horrible feeling of warm moisture crept over my being. Very moist moisture. Dank moisture even.
If you’ve never experienced the sensation of a stranger’s urine making contact with your backside, then God Bless You. Because you are Fortunate above all others.
I, however, was overcome with horror. I jumped up and panicked. What does one do in this situation?
The first thing I did was look at the floor around the toilet. It was quite soggy also, confirming my fears that this wasn’t just a case of a self-moistening toilet seat.
(They exist, guys.)
I repeated the mantra of my nurse friend.
Urine is sterile.
Urine is sterile.
Urine is sterile.
But my head did not buy it, because my compromised immune system was performing a death wail over the top of my chant.
I waddled over to the sink, where the soap dispenser bladder was out of its container and lying in a puddle of pink soap in what looked like a cleanliness murder scene, and there were no paper towels, pre-moistened wipes, blow-torches, or other items that would have been helpful to me in that moment.
So I waddled further, over to my purse, frantically digging around, and finally finding my hand sanitizer.
And I emptied that bottle onto my hands. And slathered my butt cheeks. Both at once.
Wax on, wax off.
Sanitize on, sanitize off.
I doused my hands and arms with the remaining droplets in the bottle and then scraped soap out of the leaky bladder and washed them again with searing hot water.Then I washed my arms. And my hands again. Then once more, my hands.
I slumped out of the bathroom to pay for my prescriptions. And in an act of absolute compulsion, bought four bottles of hand sanitizer.
If only I’d skipped the pharmacy and taken my Grandmother’s petrified pearls.