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What I wish I'd learned before med school!

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

As we grow up and spend our years in school, we learn all kinds of things from reading to math to social skills and more. But what they didn't teach us in school was how to watch out for bacteria and those microscopic organisms that invisibly travel around us all day long, all night long, 110% of our lives.

I wash my hands and take showers, so why should I care?

I can't tell you enough, after this year of pandemic, what I learned in grade school never prepared me for what I found out later in med school.


It's everywhere! On the toilet handle, on your computer keyboard, your phone, under your fingernails, everywhere! But do you really know what bacteria is?

Bacteria are germs! Yup, germs; one celled micro-organisms that are either pathogenic or non-pathogenic. Put simply, they either work with us or against us. And this is a key reason we are wading thru a global pandemic right now.

The good: there are more than 2000 different kinds of bacteria that we know of and most of these are harmless - even beneficial. We have bacteria that actually break down dead matter and we want these little guys to be here or our planet would be covered in dead, smelly and grotesque things. We even have bacteria in our bodies that help us like the micro-flora in your intestines. These little guys help break down waste and pass it on thru so that we don't get sick or unable to function.

On the flip side, we have the bad bacteria. These micro-organisms can be inside our bodies and all around us. Ecoli is a perfect example of a bacteria that when consumed by a human, can cause horrible organ failure and even death if untreated. Our COVID-19 traveled to the US hitching a ride in a human and after being passed along from person to person, we now have a virus of catastrophic proportion.

So why does this matter to me? Well, what they didn't teach us all in grade school was that we need to be a lot more aware of how to keep ourselves free of these bad bacteria. Yes, we were told to wash our hands but so what? We did that and everyone is still getting sick every year from the flu.

What I learned in med school really opened my eyes to what is lurking all around me and just waiting to invade my temple, my body, and make me sick.

First, washing alone is NOT enough! It just isn't. It's a great start but it won't keep you free of illness always. Surfaces must be disinfected with higher levels of disinfectant than a simple spray or wipe. In hospitals, for example, they use a hospital grade cleanser to clean every single surface in a room, every single day! What's hospital grade mean? To put it simply, it has the ability to kill these micro-organisms very quickly, that have become invincible to modern soaps.

In my spa, we use a "high level" disinfectant to clean all the surfaces, linens and materials before and after each encounter with a client. Even the air is filtered with a special device to remove micro-organisms from the air.

Second, don't expect everyone to be as careful and clean as you. Seriously, do you expect them to brush your teeth? Then don't expect them to care that your safety is just as important as their own. Expect that those walking around you (and everyone you encounter) is not as concerned about your body as you are. They may, or may not, have washed their hands after they blew their nose. They may, or may not, have cleaned their hands before touching that same door handle and inadvertently transferred the bad bacteria that they picked up, to a surface that you have now touched. What might not make one person sick, can still make someone else ill.

Remember that these bad bacteria are everywhere. Some can move freely in the air and some need fluid to make it into your body. We are at a disadvantage because we can't see them. Wouldn't it be great if they lit up like a neon light when they were in your vicinity? Or they had some kind of beacon that flashed so we'd know that there was a bacterial organism that needed to be removed before we touched it.

Had we been given a more thorough explanation and training thru grade school to understand and keep our environment and ourselves cleaner, I believe our exposures to these bacteria might be more minimized. I learned a great deal of how to treat and care for our bodies while in med school and now that I own a spa, I have a great respect for what it means to keep things clean and healthy.

One final piece of advice to all of my clients, and to you, is "watch what you touch"! Keep yourself from harm by washing your hands, cleaning your personal items, and consider the fact that 'everyone doesn't know what you know now' and is just as happy going thru their day unknowingly passing along to you, those bacteria that they have encountered, whether they are bad or good. TIP: Keep a supply of "bacteria killing" wipes (baby wipes don't work - they must contain a disinfectant) and at least 69% alcohol sanitizers at your side as your personal protection and, by ALL MEANS, use them! *When time permits, wipe down surfaces, knobs and things that you, or someone else, touch regularly. Even your car steering wheel could use a little TLC now and then, in addition to that car stereo....

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