Fully vaccinated but …

Just to finish off where I left the last post …

I went for my second Covid-19 jab after 10.5 weeks from the first (difficult) experience and thankfully it all went much smoother. This could be because my anxiety wasn’t as high with me knowing what to expect and thankfully the nurse was very understanding – she also presumably noticed my prominent ‘I have OCD’ badge on my coat as I walked in. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to strip off all my clothes into the washing machine and have a shower as soon as I returned home, but it was futile – the full de-coke (as I call it, and maybe nobody else?) just had to be done.

Talking of de-coking … it is well known in my family what I mean when I say that. I’ve just looked it up on Google and the definition is to ‘Remove carbon or carbonaceous material from (an internal combustion engine).’ The only word relevant is ‘remove’ but in the context I use the word, I want to remove bacteria, germs, dirt, and therefore contamination. My partner dreads the words “You’ll need a full de-coke when you get in the house” because it means all items of clothing in the washing machine and then straight into the shower.

Talking of washing machines … I’m planning to have my own personal washing machine on my landing (near my bedroom and bathroom) because sharing a machine in the kitchen causes so much palaver. I either have to thoroughly clean with anti-bacteria spray the machine door, rubber opening, and surrounding carcass of the washing machine before adding my dirty washing, or alternatively, if any of my clean washing touches one of those areas as it’s being pulled out it has to be returned and re-washed.

I have my own personal laundry basket for dirty clothes, and my own personal plastic (washable) basket to empty the clean washing from the machine. To empty the washing machine I have to scrub my hands after opening the door (as that is difficult to clean to my satisfaction), empty the clothes into the basket without touching anything, and then hold the basket on a long walk from the kitchen, up a huge flight of stairs, as a dead weight in front of me – in the style of a power lifter! Without OCD I would hug the basket to my body to reduce the dead weight effect, but that is impossible. Add to this difficulty the fact that I have to change slippers from downstairs slippers to my ‘only worn on the stairs, my landing, my bedroom and my bathroom slippers’ and attempt to hold up my dress from touching the stairs – unfortunately I only have two hands but need three to hold the dress. So I have to go one or two steps on the stairs, stop, balance the laundry basket on the step and take a breather whilst hiking up my dress, and then do another one or two steps and repeat. There are seventeen steps – I have experience of counting them off before expiring breathlessly.

My blood pressure, pulse and body temperature is off the scale by the end of this exercise. I then need to wash my hands two or three times after touching the handles of the (clean) laundry basket before hanging my clothes on my own personal clothes airer. Mission accomplished phew, but then … my OCD bully kicks in! He says “but did you remember to add the washing tablet?” and then starts the doubts. I smell the washing – yes I’m sure it smells fresh and I did remember the tablet. But did I? I leave the room and try to distract myself but the bully is back “imagine if you didn’t put the washing tablet in, and you’ve cross-contaminated all the clothes in that wash into a germ-ridden soup” and guess what? I decide I can’t take the risk and can’t stop worrying about this niggling doubt the OCD set off in my head so, you’ve guessed right, I take it all off the clothes airer and start the process all over again to give me peace of mind. Damn you OCD gggrrr.

I watch television, or my family, and see how uncomplicated this task should be, and was for me until OCD started 30+ years ago. To think back to when I was in my early twenties, I had a twin-tub washing machine where you put the whole family’s whites in first, then the dark colours and no constantly refreshing water – the water was a disgusting grey colour as it was emptying. The jumble of clothes/underwear/bedding/overalls were then thrown over a washing line in the garden, where birds and insects merrily sat on your clean washing, and invariably the wind blew it onto bushes or wooden fences, sometimes the pegs came loose and it draped on the grass, but as long as it wasn’t muddy I’d swoop it up – job done. Definitely no time or option to rewash because a nuisance in my head was bullying me – oh happy days and happy memories before OCD ruled me.