I would write in forums but hope someone online could give me some support/advice ASAP and the blogs have more visibility

I know that it would be proper for people to advise me to let go and ignore the fear, but it is not as simple as that as sometimes such actions just make my OCD worse if I cannot handle it.

I am supposed to be going to my boyfriend's uncles house. They are only a little older than my sister so I really enjoy it and they did not speak for the longest time so I am enjoying finally going and having fun at their house (my family is in the UK so I miss family visits).

Okay so we have been twice and the wife has been off work so it is not an issue.

The issue is she is working tomorrow and will be coming home an hour or so after we get there.

She works in a hospital decontamination room where they clean the instruments from the operation rooms. My fear in contamination from secretions of people I don't know. I fear that she will have trace amounts of blood, flesh, who knows what on her.
I know she says that they wear a gown over their scrubs with a face shield, but when I asked her does she have to take them off a certain way she said they are supposed to but they don't. I think she is careful herself, but of course with OCD there is such a worry of cross contamination that what she may feel is clean, may not be good enough.

Also, if she changes from her scrubs there, how does she handle the shoes, touching other things in the locker room with others who may not be so careful. I almost wish she comes home with her scrubs on and then gets washed and changed. But I am sure that she will hug me when she comes in.

I REALLY want to go and have a nice late afternoon/eveing, but I fear I may have a panic attack if I go. They don't know how bad my OCD is and may not even know I still have it.

I want to go and then say to myself that it doesn't matter. That the traces of anything on her would be no different than her daughter who works at Kohl's and uses the bathroom there, or touching money, but it just seems so much worse to me.

Just to note, I do not fear getting sick or any other consequences. I fear the contamination itself.

Any advice would be great and if anyone can get back to me in the next hour then that would be wonderful. 🙁

1 Comment
  1. Dragonwalker 8 years ago

     Firslty, thank you for your posts. I ended up not going, but the decision was made for me due to other reasons so I am not sure what my final decision would have been.

    Athens, in regards to having a biology background. I tend to be analytical in thought processes but I am not sure that it has necessarily compounded my contamination directly in that I am not a forensic scientist and lack all the information. My cousin actually teached forensic science and I often want to ask him his opinion (although he is in the UK and we don’t see each other very much so probably not appropriate), but if he were to tell me that contamination does not transfer as much as I think, or if he could say that bacteria breaks contamination down in such and such months, then I think it would actually help, or make it worse, depending upon the answer.

    The funny thing is I am actually a very analytical person and realistic in so many ways, so to have this irrational disgust with human secretions makes no real sense.

    The only way that being a biologist has impacted me directly ( and in a huge way), was when I got almost completely better in the late 90s. I started working for a Biotech company and human serum and such was used in the same lab. I also worked with chemicals and such so I had to wash my hands a lot (actually part of my job) so this brought back my OCD slowly and surely, and then with some major negative events (being searched by a cop after speeding, having the landlord come in and then his children coming in when I wasn’t there) it spiralled out of control right when I was hoping to get it under control again.

    Saying that, having OCD or at least the ability to track cross-contamination, has made me better at science work. I got A’s in all my lab classes in college because I know how to be precise. In my graduate studies I was also pretty exact with my molecular conservation class. For example, you HAVE to be fussy and careful when working with carcinogens and teratogens and when other people are not it not only risks them but also others. For example. After pipetting a teratogen I knew to close the container and then change my gloves. This also includes when lifting the DNA gels. My partner lifted the gel and everyone was holding theirs in a line waiting to place it in the viewer. People were standing so close together that you could see people brushing them against other people’s labcoats. Then when my partner had put our gel down she took her nitrile gloves off by pulling her first glove off by the finger tips, and then using her bare hand to do the same with the other one. So she was actually placing her bare hand on the outside of the contaminated glove. She then proceeded to leave the lab, touching doorknobs, lift buttons etc. 

    She was someone who ended up being very smart and getting into a PhD programme, but yet she would never really be able to work in a Biotech company or with DNA safely and would risk others. Our professor actually mentioned at one point that he had seen some dangerous lab behaviours and these were either Master’s students or last year undergraduates. 

    When I became a zookeeper back in 2002, I specialised mainly with herps. I would be very aware of when to change gloves etc. and expected the others to follow these SOPs to prevent parasite transmission and salmonella transmission between rooms and between some tanks. One keeper said to another that they only did it if I was around, and another told the vet how fussy I was. It was quite gratifying to hear the vet’s response “Well that is what makes her a very good herp keeper.”

    After I left the sugar gliders got salmonella from the reptiles, many amphibians died and then when I went back to volunteer one newt had not been watched properly and had dead skin caked over it and ended up dying despite me removing the dead skin that had been blocking her cloaca and they had put the red-footed tortoise in the same room as the Chaco tortoises, despite the fact that RFTs can carry a disease that can kill Chacos. 

    Then again I was unable to go back once i finished my MSc as I was uncomfortable with it due to my OCD (there are a lot of people contamination in a zoo), and this also stopped me from applying for another job recently. i also missed out on being able to socialise out of work and I think this made me less popular and was maybe an issue when I went for a PT job there when i thought I could cope with going back as another ex-lead keeper applied at the same time and she had less experience than me but she is more buddy buddy and also has two children and this was cited as a reason as well as she would need the money more than me which I felt was unfair, esp. as they had me train her in the area after she was hired while I volunteered.

    So although I want to get rid of my OCD for technical reasons, I value the insight that I have and how it hass actually helped me perform my jobs better in many ways.

    Sorry for the long reply.

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