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My pastor is encouraging us to try to live ordered lives in this age of Chinese flu: Set an alarm to get up at the same time every day; pray; enjoy your caffeinated, warm beverage of choice; pray some more; bathe and dress for the day; attend daily Mass via the web; did I mention “pray?” There is no remedy for anxiety quite like spending time with the Great Consoler and, yet, it’s commonly the first practice to fall away in times of distress. I know this from the last six years’ personal experience of family chaos and trauma brought on by our daughters’ serious medical crises, and I still struggle to maintain the habit. Be better than I am.
But, having a child go through meningitis and chemotherapy and being concerned about infection has given us some advantages in the current crisis. We have masks and gloves and alcohol wipes. Not a lot, but some leftovers and a few extra to donate to medical providers. We keep a supply of rubbing alcohol, Clorox wipes, bleach, and TSP. If you don’t have all these readily available, hold that thought. I have other ideas.
My morning routine consists of wiping down every kitchen surface, every handle, knob, telephone receiver, remote control, light switch, control panel, toilet handle, soap pump, every household article we touch regularly, with a Clorox wipe or two. Repeat as necessary as someone or something new is introduced from outside.
Don’t have Clorox wipes? Here are some other ideas for sanitizing surfaces:
Make a 10% bleach solution and use it to dampen a washcloth or dishrag in place of wipes (carry in a zip lock baggie for use outside the home, too)
Use rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle (careful with this — it will damage wood finishes)
Use vinegar, lemon juice, and/or salt solution
Hand sanitizer: I keep a bottle in the car, which I use on my hands, steering wheel, gearshift, door handle, and key fob. I also sanitize my credit card, wallet, and purse every time I use them
UV sunlight, if possible and nothing else is available
Hot water and soap for everything else, preferably with TSP
Carry a wipe to the mailbox and sanitize the pull. Handle your mail as if it’s contaminated.
Microwave heating is thought to kill coronavirus. I clean my microwave oven every morning by nuking a damp dishrag for a minute and, while the oven is still steamed and the rag is still hot, wiping down the interior and exterior controls. Anything else that needs sterilizing and can tolerate microwaves can get the same treatment.
Use a sterile technique for groceries and deliveries coming into the house:
Set up a contaminated-space and a clean-space on your counter. Nothing moves to the clean space unless it’s been decontaminated. Assume everything is contaminated. Use your Clorox or homemade wipes on hard surface items (glass and plastic). Remove items from cardboard and discard the box. Wash fruits and vegetables as you would your hands (20 seconds in warm soapy water). Carry-in food items should be dumped onto plates or in bowls from home and their containers discarded. Of course, hands are sanitized before, during, and after this long and cumbersome process, but you don’t want WuFlu, so learn to live with it. When you’re finished, decontaminate your contaminated-space.
And, finally, when you go out, wear a mask and gloves. Leave your pride in the car. If you don’t have a mask, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth. If you don’t have gloves, you can use a used plastic grocery bag to pick up the gas pump or items for purchase and then discard it when you’re through. You’re American. Innovate! It’s what we do.
And, finally, if you’re so stressed by the situation, it’s making you impatient and angry with God and you’re wondering if He really loves you, remember He let His own Holy Family be driven from their homeland into exile in Egypt so as to avoid Herod’s murder of the innocents. If He would let them suffer in this way, you can rest assured He loves you even though you’re living through a difficult time.
Keep the faith, and share other ideas in the comments.Published in