Monday, January 21, 2008

Germaphobia by Trench Doc

Published January 22nd, 2007

*First of all Trenchy...thank you for letting me put your post with comments up. Ya warmed my heart! :) You and the other commenters cracked me up. I laughed so hard! You are missed and it would be wonderful if you decide to post again. Your Blogdom awaits you. ;)

Without any further ado...h-e-e-e-r-e-s Trench Doc! :)


Given that we are smack dab in the middle of upper respiratory infection and influenza season, we here at Trench Doc feel that it might be helpful to spread a little mysophobia (fear of germs). Hey, a healthy respect for viruses is good… although be warned, if you have to count everything by fours or wear rubber gloves to handle fresh fruit then, please, stop reading now.

In the June 2005 edition of The International Journal of Environmental Health Research, scientists published data that indicated the most likely public areas one might encounter upper respiratory secretions, blood and urine. The samples, collected over a four year period were specifically looking for alpha-amylase, hemoglobin and urea indicating the fluids noted above, respectively.

Here are the findings (based on percent of positive tests):

Play ground equipment- 44% (shocker, I know)

Bus armrests and rails- 35%

Public Restroom surfaces- 25%

Shopping cart handles- 21%

Chair armrests- 21%

Escalator handrails 19%

Customer shared pens- 16%

vending machine buttons- 14%

Public phones- 13%

Elevator buttons-10%

I wish, however, the study had included “random hands that were held out to shake” and “currency”, although I am better off that they did not check for coliform bacteria. Even old “iron-stomach” Trenchy doesn’t want to know.

28 Responses to “Germophobia”

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  1. 1 ERnursey Jan 22nd, 2007 at 7:13 pm

OK, I have to admit that I’m grossed out thinking that the playground I let my kids play at is twice as contaminated as the public bathroom I won’t let them use. Bleah!

  1. 2 SeaSpray Jan 23rd, 2007 at 12:56 am

I saw a report recently that said women’s pocketbooks were loaded with bacteria with E.coli being one of them.

My coworkers at the hospital used to tease me (in good fun)about being a germophobe and yes I did spend 20 years throwing out the ED registration pens, at least the ones with blood. And maybe the ones that patients with scabies or lice used. And yes,I know that was overboard and I would’ve thrown out the desk and chair if I could have too. :)Instead, I just wiped them down REAL good and itched the rest of the night. (maybe, I will put more about this stuff in one of my posts)

I digressed. The report talked about all the places we women put our pocketbooks. Public restroom counters, in the stalls, on floors, etc., I never thought of this. I have placed my pocketbooks on my bed sheets, kitchen counters and tables.

During the earlier days of working at the hospital I often wore high heels. One night I came home exhausted after a BUSY ED shift and just kicked my shoes off in the kitchen and left them there. The next morning as I was doing something in the kitchen, I looked up and saw my little baby boy sitting in the corner, on the floor, sucking and gnawing on one of my spiked high heels that I had been wearing while walking all around the ED and the hospital the night before. I have a big kitchen and was at the other end. I don’t remember taking any steps toward him. I remember yelling “nooooooooooooo!” and getting there in one great leap! Anyway, he survived. He’s 18 now. :)

  1. 3 max Jan 23rd, 2007 at 3:19 am

I do not want to know what coliform is right?

  1. 4 me Jan 23rd, 2007 at 3:40 am

that’d be E. Coli - quite often found in archival ureters (birthcord), bad breath, (air transmission) etcetcetc…

lucky thing its normally benign, huh?

most common cause of influenza, unboiled water

most common cause of pneumonia, feeding the patient fortified unboiled water.

;- ]

  1. 5 notverybright Jan 23rd, 2007 at 7:10 am

I’m a major germaphobe, now vindicated. Thanks for helping with that.

  1. 6 SeaSpray Jan 23rd, 2007 at 8:16 am

E. coli - air transmissions? What is fortified unboiled water? If we REALLY knew - Ignorance IS bliss! :)

P.S. A couple of weeks ago, I almost got food from a store salad bar. The worker was putting out a fresh salad. I told her I was afraid to ever get food from store salad bars (although - I will at a restaurant) and she said they just passed inspection. I can think of some reasons why it might not be a good idea. What do you think Trenchy? Do you trust store salad bars?

  1. 7 trenchy Jan 23rd, 2007 at 8:41 am

I give it the old Throckmorton test when I walk up to the salad bar… to the right= no problem, to the left= NO WAY!

  1. 8 Scotottalot Jan 23rd, 2007 at 10:21 am

It seems trenchy, that you and I read the same article about 10 or 12 years ago, about the nastification of American currency. It seems that I recall the percentage of contaminated money being horrifically high…61% stands out in my memory. Do you happen to recall the artickle I’m referring to?

  1. 9 trenchy Jan 23rd, 2007 at 10:52 am

As a matter of fact I do… I think several have been done since then.

  1. 10 SeaSpray Jan 23rd, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Ha!Ha!Ha!….for quite awhile! :)

One of the reasons that I love the med blogs is for the exquisite humor. Luckily for me, I had just swallowed my coffee when I read your answer to my salad bar question, or the coffee would have spewed out my nose and all over the computer/keyboard.

Next time I am near a salad bar I am going to half expect to see a man perusing the salads, wearing an ED head thing (forget what that is called) with THE LIGHT ON sporting a Throckmorton. You will understand if I don’t buy any salad even if the Throckmorton is leaning to the right. This girl will never view another salad bar the same again, but she will chuckle as she walks by.

Thanks for the laugh Trenchy! :)

  1. 11 max Jan 23rd, 2007 at 5:47 pm

At an impressionable age I was standing in line at a salad bar behind a hygiene dubious man who lifted each cherry tomato from the cherry tomato container, rolled it in his hand for inspection, and replaced it to lift the next, and the next –

I have not eaten from a salad bar since.

Also, you know those fluffy restaurants that have jellies and jams in little ceramic covered bowls on the table? And nice little serving spoons in those nice little ceramic bowls? You only have to see someone in a restaurant stick that little spoon in his or her mouth once before sticking it back into that little bowl of condiment bliss to never, ever, use a condiment that sits open container on a restaurant table again.

  1. 12 Ray Jan 23rd, 2007 at 5:54 pm


Throckmorton test aka John Thomas sign (in the UK)! ;)

Tried and true! :D

I’m afraid I’d never be able to eat from a salad bar using Trenchy’s criteria.

I always figured that was caused by either a left handed vs right handed person. A right handed man having quicker/easier access to a left leaner and vice versa! :)

  1. 13 SeaSpray Jan 23rd, 2007 at 6:32 pm

Water coolers. I have issues with water coolers. This is because I once saw a child suck right off the part the water comes out of in the emergency patient waiting room. (What do you call that?) Also, because one night when the maintenance man was changing that same water cooler, as he flipped the big bottle over, the water splashed out all over his dirty hand that was supporting the bottle and down into the water cooler. From that point on, I went to the opposite side of the ED to get water from a different water cooler, hoping that this stuff never happened with that one. Then when they sold water out of machines, I always got my water that way. Factory processing is infallible - right? :)

P.S. Something did happen to me with that water cooler but that will be for a post another time. :)

  1. 14 Trenchy Jan 23rd, 2007 at 7:32 pm

Seaspray I was laughing my ass off as I typed that… glad that I entertain someone other than myself.

  1. 15 tk Jan 23rd, 2007 at 11:14 pm

I think I want to move into a plastic bubble now . . .

  1. 16 SeaSpray Jan 23rd, 2007 at 11:15 pm

Ditto Trenchy, Ditto! :)

  1. 17 SeaSpray Jan 24th, 2007 at 4:53 pm

Trenchy, I had more to say about your old salad bar Throckmorton but deleted most of it and will let it alone, but the jokes… so many, many jokes!!!

So, I am thinking …any man can be used. I am wondering tho…for the salad bar Throckmorton, does he need to stand facing the food or sideways?

Also, if I ever find myself feeling down, I am going to find a salad bar and make sure that I have a front row seat! :)

  1. 18 Trenchy Jan 24th, 2007 at 7:04 pm

I think this sums it up:

“Each man his own compass must be.”


  1. 19 SeaSpray Jan 25th, 2007 at 12:59 am

You are too funny Trenchy!

Truly, this girl will never be able to approach a salad bar again without great difficulty in trying to restrain her self from giggling or just plain cracking up. (You KNOW what happens when you TRY NOT to laugh?) Chick peas and beets really aren’t that funny! And how exactly does one work Throckmorton into the conversation? Our table is going to have to be far, far away from the salad bar so that I can actually swallow the food and beverages without incident! :)

P.S. I swear though, if I ever see a man approach a salad bar wearing camouflage clothing and an ED head light “turned on” and carrying a Target bag - they will have to scrape me off the floor still laughing! :)

(Your Target story was really funny!)

  1. 20 Trenchy Jan 25th, 2007 at 8:08 am

It is unusual for me to be embarrassed, for example we were at Target and I bought some underwear… they were sports boxer briefs that a lot of triathletes wear( like speedos with legs)… and this homegirl ringing us up asked, “are these swimmin trunks?” and I said “no, they are underwear and I am gonna look some kinda good when I come to bed wearing those things tonight”… to which the wife rolled her eyes and the cashier fell in the floor laughing… a few weeks later I entered the same Target and again was checked out by the same cashier who asked me about said undies. I happened to be wearing them and I pulled the waist band out to show her.

But after the headlamp… I have not been back.

  1. 21 seaspray Jan 25th, 2007 at 10:08 am

They probably miss the entertainment - you should go back. You should go back wearing your headlamp and some low riders so they can see your new briefs too! :)Nothing funnier than when we think -Ahhh, all is right with the world and we treat everyone cheerfully, practically whistling “Mr blue Bird’s on My Shoulder” as we saunter by. Then someone finds out he has walked through an entire store wearing his ED headlamp with “light turned on” or she realizes “too late” after leaving the ladies room after a busy shift that she didn’t fix her dress appropriately. :)
(The latter is going to be a future post)

Just think of the comic relief….or…concern you gave the people monitoring the video cameras in the store that day. As for me and my dress - THANK GOD the hospital didn’t have cameras monitoring everything like they do now! :)

  1. 22 seaspray Jan 25th, 2007 at 10:09 am

P.S. Instant replay can be a biatch! :)

  1. 23 SeaSpray Jan 28th, 2007 at 12:52 pm

P.P.S - I am going to let this alone - really -I am trying to anyway! :)

This is part of a post I left on Medblog Addict’s experimental site yesterday and thought I would share it:

I was telling a friend that came over last night about your batshit crazy/Throckmorton post and the link from the original author. I told her to read them and then go to Trenchy’s Germaphobia post, then read comments.

She C-r-a-c-k-e-d- up! We laughed so hard - the concept is so ludicrous! At one point she asked me if I wanted to go to Wendy’s and I thought she was serious. I said “Why?” and she said they HAVE A SALAD BAR!!! :):):)

P.P.P.S. - I’m not a stalker! Or……am…I?? :)

  1. 24 Trenchy Jan 28th, 2007 at 4:50 pm

no… you are the audience every comedian dreams of… I used to do stand-up comedy (20 years ago), maybe I still would be if yall had been at my shows!

The only person who ever really appreciated my routine was Garrison Keillor… he said I had “comedic talent that couldn’t be taught”, a few years ago I wrote to him and reminded him of what he said and what a great influence he had been on me with his words encouragement; then I added that I was now a successful physician, LOL.

  1. 25 Anonymous Jan 28th, 2007 at 7:26 pm

Ha! Ha! - That’s cool, but if it didn’t work out - then you were meant to walk another path. Hmmm…comedian to doctor… interesting transition. Did you always consider medicine and the humor was a gig to help pay for med school?

I have a close friend (we’ll call her Donna - because her name is Donna) who IS the funniest person that I personally know. She’s one of these people that uses all the physical gestures, expressions and voices to go with her jokes. I can’t breathe when she gets on a roll because I am laughing so hard! In H.S., her guidance counselor seriously told her that she should be a comedian. She’s a graphic artist.

I think you need a sense of humor to be in medicine. Somewhere in Proverbs it says that a “merry heart does good like a medicine” and so what better profession to share your gift of laughter since it is healing to one’s body and you are a facilitator of healing?

Then of course for your own survival in that environment too.

In an e-mail to Medblog Addict, I pondered the thought that the Throckmorton salad bar test might just be the funniest thing that I have ever heard and what if that’s it? What if I never hear anything funnier ever again??

Can you top it Trenchy? Can you? :)

  1. 26 SeaSpray Jan 28th, 2007 at 7:55 pm

Trenchy - That anonymous above was me - I just forgot to sign in. :)

  1. 27 Trenchy Jan 28th, 2007 at 8:09 pm

Yes, but it involves me doing impersonations of a conversation between Barney the purple Dino and Stewie from Family Guy…

  1. 28 SeaSpray Jan 28th, 2007 at 9:30 pm
Your audience awaits you! Break a leg - leave em laughing!!!


Deb said...


Medblog Addict said...

It's just as funny the second time around.

Chrysalis Angel said...

He sounds hilarious Seaspray. I can see why you like him.

SeaSpray said...

Hi Dr Deb- germs...I know...yucko!

Hi MbA - I don't think I will ever get tired of this. :)

Hi Angel - he IS! I wish he still blogged but hope springs eternal...ya never know. :)

Chrysalis Angel said...

He needs to come back on, Seaspray. We are starting to lose too many of the nice, good ones.

SeaSpray said...

Yes...he was one of my favorites...for sure! :)

John McElveen said...

Throckmorton's Sign is better than NO Throckmorton at all! Ask J.W. Bobbitt- LOL!

Also Dysparunia is beter than no Parunia at all- at least for the man!

As for the salad bar I have a theory-

He will ALWAYS approach said bar- Depending on which way his Throck is Morton. Left= Left. Right = Right. If it's straight down- he's gay and ordered Chiffon Cheesecake with a Drizzle of Chocolate instead!!!!

GREAT POST SEA and Thanks DOC!!!! Please keep up the comedy- we sooooo need it in Medicine!


Chrysalis Angel said...

John always makes me laugh.

Seaspray , If Passionstamper, you and I go out for dinner - I don't know as she and I could handle you at the site of a salad bar. For that matter, I don't know now if I could be trusted to retain my composer either now. We'd probably be escorted out.

SeaSpray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SeaSpray said...

Hahahahahahahahahaha!! JOHN! You GOT me on that one and I CHOKED on my salad!! Where's a paramedic when ya need one? ;) I should've known but have been running around today and still in "rush mode" as I admittedly was wolfing down my salad (didn't eat all day)and decided to check comments. The whole thing is HILARIOUS but you GOT ME with the "straight down-CHIFFON cheesecake! LOL!!

I think if I ever read something that you and Trenchy collaborated on that I would have to breath into a paper bag to get through it! haha!

Oh and what is this dysparunia that you speak of? I will have to look that one up. :)

Yes we DO need comedy in medicine!

Glad you liked it John and truly appreciated your spicing up the comments even more. ;)

SeaSpray said...

Hi Angel-salad bars are forever tainted with Throckmorton images now.

It was bad enough just going up to a salad bar by myself (giggle) or noticing some men standing up there as my mind wanders, but now thanks to John,I'm gonna be checking out their approach and the chiffon cheesecake!

I am so totally the person who will come up to you in the store and ask you what time it is or what do you think of this roast, etc.

Now by salad bar..ahem...Excuse me? Sir? Could you please tell me which way your Throck is morton?

Excuse me...could you please tell me which way your Throck is morton? It's not?? DIBS ON THE CHIFFON CHEESECAKE!...I'll holler as I lunge for it before he gets to it. ;)

I am pretty sure the 3 of us could NOT ever go up to a salad bar at the same time, especially with a man present. I am also pretty sure that we could never sit by one at the same time because I think our constant laughter might give the guys a complex. but if they knew...;)

Chrysalis Angel said...

Now look what you've done, John. ha,ha I did have to laugh about the cheesecake, however un pc it was.;)

John McElveen said...

Sorry Angel--- you ought to know by now I'm an Un PC buster LOL_ Not really.

And SEA. I may have spelled it wrong, but dysparunia is painful intercourse. Yep my bad- it's "dyspareunia'.

Could I have the word origin please? Judge: Latin

Could you please use it in a sentence.

Judge: Yo mamma, shoulda had dyspareunia, and maybe yo dumb butt wouldn't be in my speelling bee!


HUkeD OwN foNIcKs wURkEd 4 Mi!!!!!

SeaSpray said...

Bust away John! I hate PC because I see people including myself get downright SQUIRRELLY the second we perceive we're not being "PC"!

I believe all people should be treated with dignity and respect but now it's like if there is one infraction we think the PC police are coming after us...well I do because I'm the girl who still worries it's illegal to remove pillow tags once you've owned them for 10 years! I won't even get started on Christmas! Pass the chiffon cheesecake please! ;) are hilarious! Angel how would you like to be on call with John? I'd love to be hanging out in that rig! :)

I did look up dyspareunia...this inquiring mind had to know. :)