As someone with very little contamination OCD, I am fine to go to the hospital. I don’t have fears of touching the sick. I believe that a certain amount of germs are your best defence against illness. I think it helps boost your immune system…making it easier for you to fight off future contaminants.
I do however have one contamination fear. It is rooted deep in my brain since it was something my mother taught me as a child when potty training. So it was deeply ingrained and I assumed it was something everyone did.
I had no idea that it was a contamination fear until I attended a CBT group. Here I found out that my ritual was not all that common. In fact there were only a couple other people in the group (of OCD sufferers) who also performed this ritual…
Wondering what this fear is?
I couldn’t use a public toilet without putting toilet paper between me and the seat, or hovering (when my legs were stronger). My fear was catching some kind of toilet born illness.
It turns out that the majority of people, even in an OCD group do not do this.
So to help myself get over this fear (during group CBT) I was told to go to the hospital washroom, sit on the uncovered toilet seat and wait for my anxiety to decrease. After this I was not supposed to do anything to make myself feel clean. No shower or washing of the area that day.
I swear I could feel that dirty toilet seat on my ass for the rest of the day.
I was very uncomfortable and anxious all day… but nothing happened. I wasn’t struck down by some toilet born illness. In fact I was fine.
I still cover the toilet seat 50% of the time, but I’m getting much closer to being over this irrational fear.
So this new fear took me by shock!
Unfortunately last week a friend of mine had a major heart attack. So my husband and I headed to the hospital. Fortunately my friend was looking pretty good all things considered.
I walked into the room. Gave him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. Then I helped him move around so he could be more comfortable. I moved his pillow, helped him shift over on the bed and fixed his covers. Basically for the first ten minutes of our visit I had my hands all over him and his bed.
We were having a great visit until he needed a nurse to come unhook his wires so he could go to the bathroom…
The nurse comes in and asks my friend if he is going to have diarrhea. He says yes and heads for the bathroom.
The nurse tells me that as of now he is being put into quarantine!
She tells me I need to put on a gown to go back in the room. And if I plan to touch him at all I need to wear gloves.
My first thought was that they were protecting him from our germs. I’m okay with that. It makes total sense. You don’t want to make the already sick, sicker.
As I’m robing up I have a realization…the gowns and gloves were not to protect him from us, They were to protect us from him!
At this moment my mind starts going over all the contact I had had with him in the last 10 minutes…
It starts racing!
Anxiety starts rising!
Fortunately I am able to catch it before it reaches panic.
Like I said I don’t have a problem being around sick people. I have never worried about catching something at the hospital before.
Luckily, I was able to let it go without too much anxiety and a bunch of hand sanitizer.
However, I wondered what would have happened if I wasn’t this type of OCD patient…or if I hadn’t been through intense therapy for the past 4 years?
How would someone else deal with a situation like this?
I also wonder what the hospitals can do to stop something like this from happening?
I guess there’s a diarrhea limit. Six times is the magic number. Maybe they could start taking precautions a bit earlier? Would that even help someone with contamination OCD? Any ideas on how to make this an easier transition for hospitals?
If you don’t understand contamination OCD or are just interested in learning more about this complex disorder I recommend reading this link. There is also plenty of other information on this website about other types of OCD. As well as things that can be done to help you get things under control.
Wishing you all an anxiety free day!