Tuesday, January 22, 2013

So What is My Civic Duty When Sick, Anyway?

Woman pretending to
contemplate mask.
Hello Friends:

So okay, after my last post I kinda feel like the universe is having a bit of a joke with me.  I am now the sicky.  And I'm back on the train.  Yep.  No, I'm not wearing a mask, but I swear I know how to use a tissue, and I also use handiwipes constantly.  Still, I would not be offended at all if you chose to sit next to someone else.

In fact, I sort of wish the woman who would not get off her cell phone had done just that, instead of smiling, sitting next to me in the quiet car, and then proceeding to chatter away.

Anyway, in my last post I was talking about how everyone on the train was sick but me, and now there is some turn around for that.  I am sick, and feeling guilty that I am out in the world.  But for the moment, it seems to be a mild cold, and I can't justify not getting on the train and getting back home, as scheduled.  Nobody wants to sit around hundreds of miles from home in a different city.  That's what I'm telling myself, anyway.

So the ride is this strange combination of good and bad.  On one hand, I don't feel that same fear of all the other sick passengers, because, well, now I am one of them.  I caught a bug and now it is sort of like there is nothing to fear.  But on the other hand, I'm feeling guilty that I'm here at all, and not in fact wearing a mask.  I guarantee I'm not coughing or sneezing all over, really, but is that an excuse?

This obsessive thinking about this ... well, I know it is just another aspect of the OCD and anxiety disorders.  I ended last week saying I needed to learn to be more compassionate.  I know I need to learn that compassion for myself.  It seems to be the hardest person to feel compassionate towards.

Okay, except for the ladies on the cell phones in the quiet car.  I'm having serious trouble with compassion for that.  But I'm even making a go at it, because, well, people are people and we are all in this together.  (I mean, who isn't doing their civic duty, here, me or them?  What is the more anti-social thing, no mask or constant chatter in a quiet space?  Why sit in the quiet car if ... wait, I'm ranting again.)

So I'm not sure what the point of this post was.  First, I guess, to express that strange feeling of being sick, and so not having to be afraid of getting sick anymore.  And then to talk about that guilty feeling and sense of social duty.  Am I making the people around me as anxious as they were making me last week?  I'd feel rotten about that.  And where is the line of civic responsibility, anyway?  Masks aren't common in the US, but aren't a bad idea.  Of course OCD wants a definitive answer.  A final ruling about exactly how I should act when I'm sick.  There is no such thing.

How about I just keep up with the good use of tissues and handiwipes?  And maybe try some more compassion for myself, and for the others on the train.  Even ... ahem ... cell phone users in the freaking quiet car.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: Woman with Mask, Photoxpress.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Please Use Tissues, Thank You

Stock photo of perfectly well
person pretending to be sick.
Note proper use of tissue.
Hello Friends:

So everyone on my train is sick but me.  Okay, that's not literally true.  This is just that OCD feeling one gets when one travels.  Every sniffle, sneeze, and cough is a sign of impending plague.  I don't want the plague.

To back up a little - I'm on a train because I hate flying.  I still fly, as you know, but when traveling up and down the east coast corridor, I make use of the much less terrifying train system.  I also make use of trains if my ears are being finicky, since if they are the least bit stuffed they will not pop on flights.  I imagine that a lot of people feel that way, and so they will take the train not just because they don't want to fly, but because they are congested and can't fly.

Thus we have the present situation.  Constant coughing, sneezing, hacking, etc.  People who need to travel but can't fly.  People who shouldn't be traveling but think the train is easier so it will be okay.  Plus the usual random people who have non-flu related coughs from smoking or asthma or whatever.


It not only brings on feelings of fear, but also of another OCD kind of guilt.

Since I have needle trauma from the past, as well as contamination fears, I have yet to be able to make myself get a flu shot, ever.  This is one of those OCD quandries we are all too familiar with.  Do the scary thing to avoid the scary thing, maybe?  Or just deal with that first scary thing head on?  Neither sounds good.  Sometimes we choose to do the one, sometimes the other.

I look on vaccination, for example, as a civic duty, and so feel somewhat similarly about the flu shot.  Which means I feel like my OCDs are keeping me from doing my social duty.  I hate that.  But as you know, OCD is a powerful beast.  No matter how hard I try, I can't make myself get that flu shot.

So here on am on the train, feeling scared and wondering why people who are that sick are on this train after all.  I am a firm believer that sick people should not work or travel.  They should rest and get better.  But I'm also a realist, so I understand that this isn't always, or even often, possible.  Real life is what it is, and sometimes that means not being able to take a break even when we are ill.

Given my lack of flu shot I sort of feel like I don't have a right to gripe about sick travelers, anyway.  Then I feel the other way about it, and figure that is a whole 'nuther animal.  Maybe they could at least wear those mask things so they don't cough their germs all over amtrak?

Perhaps I just need to learn more compassion and acceptance, for them and for myself.  We are all doing the best we can, and my (possibly) getting sick or not is not a comment on them or me, and/or if we are following our civic duty.  Sometimes sick just happens.

It would be nice if it happened later ... much later.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info:  Girl Health Frame, Photoexpress.

Popular Posts