One of WordPress’ daily prompts last week invited bloggers to “embrace the ick,” or write a positive post about the thing that grosses them out the most. In the spirit of that prompt, I will be talking about my experiences with some things that may be unpleasant for the squeamish among you.
As a child, I did not gross out easily. I never got squicked out by insects, worms, snakes, lizards, or mice like you might expect a middle-class city girl to do. Somewhere during adolescence or young adulthood, I became far more sensitive. When I was in my 20s, I lived with a roommate who developed a staph infection after minor surgery and required intravenous antibiotics for several weeks. The home care person who installed her port demonstrated how to administer the antibiotics, and I must have conveyed my prissiness without intending to, because she offered to come over the first couple times, until my roommate was comfortable administering her own medicine.
I did have some threshold for bodily functions; after all, I have cats, so I scoop two litterboxes daily and occasionally clean up hairballs and half-digested kibble. I walked dogs, so I had to deal with dog poop. That said, my gross-out level has increased considerably in the past year.
My first day substitute teaching, I had a student who was listless and irritable. It occurred to me that she might be ill rather than simply acting out, and she confirmed my hypothesis when she first covered her mouth in vain and then vomited into her hands and on her uniform. Fortunately, the upper school principal was in the halls checking on classrooms and volunteered to take the class for a few minutes while I summoned the maintenance man, then took the little girl to the restroom, calmed her down, and called her mother to come pick her up.
As the school year went on, I dealt with upper respiratory infections, nosebleeds, and stopped-up toilets. During a brief stint at a day care, I changed diapers and cleaned up spit-up. I gave one of my maxipads to a third-grader (!) who got her period unexpectedly.
Now, I can safely say there are few things that gross me out excessively. I have emptied and changed catheter bags. I’ve checked blood sugar for several diabetic clients. I’ve changed Depends and cleaned bedside commodes. I’ve killed spiders for a 90-year-old lady who’s terrified of them. I’ve given foot massages.
These are some of the things that make us human. No matter our age, ethnic origin, socioeconomic class, or gender, we all sneeze, pass gas, pee, poop, and bleed.