Monday, April 22, 2013

The Truth About Hand Sanitizer

I have almost four years under my belt in the preemie department and I have discovered something that's not necessarily revolutionary, but it's the truth. In case you were on the fence in any way, shape, or form, here it is:

Hand sanitizer works. 

From the minute Jack was born at 23 weeks, we were told about preemie lungs and the dangers of germs with an immune system that was not yet developed. We knew it was a life or death sort of thing. We took this news very, very seriously. 

We stocked up on sanitizer in every form they sell it in - wipes, gel, lotion, spray. We got it all. I was the person going through the Walmart check out line with a cart full of sanitizer (of course after carefully wiping down each and every crevice of said cart).

And here is where I get real with ya'll. Before I touched Jack during his first RSV isolation season (basically when he got home from the NICU in September through May) I doused my hands with sanitizer. Each and every time before touching him. You heard me right. I probably sanitized my hands a hundred times a day. 

I was anal about it, especially during that first year. And guess what? Jack never got sick. Not once. Jack's first illness was at age 2, when he got an ear infection. Before that time, he never had an antibiotic treatment, a nebulizer treatment, or any sort of cold med. And the icing on the cake? Because I was so anal about the sanitizing, I never got sick either.

In fact, I did not get ill for THREE YEARS. I give the credit to one thing. Hand sanitizing. 

Some other helpful things in our situation: 1) Jack has no siblings 2) Jack was around zero children 3) Jon and I were around zero children 4) Jack was getting Synagis 5) every person stepping foot in our home was fully hand sanitized. 6) everyone - Jack, Jon, me, therapists, grandma and grandpa - got flu shots 7) Jack was in complete isolation (was never out in public) for two full RSV seasons. 

This is not revolutionary. This is not hoky poky, spooky, or backwoods science. No. It's just easy peasy, plain and simple. Sanitizing your hands (often) works. 

Yes, I was the crazy hand sanitizer lady. I wear that badge proudly. 

Why am I even thinking about this? Because since Jack started preschool, the sanitizing has kind of gone bye bye. And here I am, nursing a cold that I've had for about a week. Simply, I don't sanitize as often and I'm paying the price. 

Note: My intention with this post is not to make those feel less than, or bad about getting ill/getting a cold. With such fragile immune systems and lungs, some preemies get sick, no matter how hard one tries.There are things out of our control. Instances where getting ill is inevitable. But don't give up sanitizing. It is a very easy defense. 

p.s. my favorite brand? The one from the picture above. Target brand, orange bottle. I love it so much. Yes, I think it's totally appropriate to love a sanitizer and have a favorite.

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heather lesoine said...

Only a preemie mom can write a post about hand sanitizer! Love it! We did the same with our Jack...always washed hands or sanitized before touching him and he didn't have an illness until he was over 2 years old (and we flew in an airplane to was guaranteed he would get something). We also had a similar situation in that Jack is an only child, was getting Synagis, everyone had flu shots, visitors sanitized, and he was mostly not around other kiddos. It absolutely worked and I don't regret doing all we did! I truly believe we gave his lungs a good 2 years to grow & start healing. It helped that Jack was on O2 until 10 months...his "fragility" was visible.

Jessi said...

I know... I was laughing at myself while writing this... a whole post on hand sanitizer! How exciting!! :)

NewMom said...

Totally agree! Many people (including my sister-in-law) said I was being "Dramatic" about hand sanitizing and keeping her one year old away from my son. My son didn't get sick until right after flu season and unfortunately from my husband (actually we all got sick at the same time). Luckily it was so minimal I even hesitate to call it a full on cold. We still handwash/or sanitize regularly and I do see a difference!!

PS I hope you feel better! I love Alca Seltzer cold great!

Jessi said...

NewMom, I just checked out your blog and wanted to tell you that your little Robert is so o cute! Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

I did the exact same thing for the first two years! I had every neighbor telling me it was ridiculous and that I should be exposing my kids to germs (still dealing with this to some extent). I have triplets born at 31 weeks. My son had more lung issues than the girls, but one of the girls stopped growing around 29 weeks and was over a pound smaller than the other two, so she also had some challenges. I love reading your blog. Jack is amazing and youre a great mom (and photographer :)).

Michelle said...

I called Bath and Body Works my "anti-bacterial heaven"- all those sanitizers! Perfect place for a germ-phobia preemie mom like I was.

NewMom said...

O thanks Jessi! : ) So is your Jack!

Ruth Sagers said...

My 23 weeker is going to be coming home from the NICU hopefully within a few weeks, but I already have a 2 year old germy (but adorable) toddler! How do I prevent my baby from catching her older sister's inevitable illnesses? Ugh, it's freaking me out just to think about it. Hand sanitizer, here we come.

Alison said...

May I just say how much I've loved reading through your blog, and I especially love this post! My 27 weaker just turned one and I too have been the crazy hand sanitizer lady for over a year now.

People think I'm being dramatic, with the isolation ad the sanitizing -- but we're just doing what we need to! So nice to know that others feel the same passion for hand washing and sanitizer that I do ;)

Latex Gloves said...
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