If you think about growing up, there seems to be kids who naturally are more reserved and less adventurous, and then there are the ones who often act before thinking and have no fear. You might even wonder if there really is a “dare devil gene”. I was and still am a dare devil. I can honestly say that if I or my brother thought of something, we rarely ever failed to follow through on execution. From building the best hay forts with booby traps to climbing trees to see who could swing the top over the farthest, we did it. We also successfully built a bike out of wood which steered, but lacked brakes, and were professionals at making swords, spears and may have been known to dabble in making things that could go “boom”. I’m happy to say that neither of us ever broke anything that required casts, but there may have been the occasional set of stitches and an eye patch, and by the time I was 6, we knew I was allergic to almost every adhesive used in band aids.
I was 5 the first time I had stitches, although surgery was required before the stitches could be put in. My brother was only 3 at the time so was not involved in this scheme, but the boys down the road sure were! The collective “we” decided that sword fighting with baseball bats was a reasonable thing to do, and for a while it worked. If I recall, I was holding my own…. that was until my pinkie (check out the picture) got caught between the 2 wooden baseball bats. I’m not really sure how it happened, but I suspect I went in for a thrust and the neighbour swung to fend me off. Let’s just say, my pinkie didn’t stand a chance against 2 baseball bats. That said, I was lucky. The bone did not break, but the skin from my first knuckle up sure popped off! In fact it was hanging by a thread and let’s just say, while running around in circles, there was a lot of blood.
The surgeon was able to piece my finger back together, but during the healing process the beginnings of infection set in. Luckily my mom was a nurse so nothing got out of hand, but I do remember having to soak my finger in a bath every day to draw out the infection to avoid losing more of the finger than I did. I was lucky. I kept my pinkie, I grew back a finger nail and best of all when we were learning right from left at school, I never had a problem because I only ever had to look at my pinkie to know which hand was which!
In the stories I shared this week, the HAIs were all associated with adults and several of them older adults with poor immune systems or underlying diseases that would have increased their odds of getting an infection. I’ll admit, while the infection was in the site of a surgical incision, the original “incision” was not made with a sterile scalpel, so it’s entirely plausible that my foray into sword fighting contaminated the area which made it easier for infection to set in. The reason I’m sharing my story is because we need to keep in mind that the transmission of pathogens can happen almost everywhere and to anyone. While I focused on HAIs this week, we see infectious diseases transmitted in schools, at work, on cruise ships, at restaurants, at spas and even other healthcare settings like dental offices.
The long and the short is that we need to be mindful. We need to take a pause and if sick, stay home. We ALL need to wash our hands. As highlighted in the obituary I shared yesterday, dirty hands can lead to HAIs. In healthcare settings, we need to support the cleaning staff and allow them the time they need to clean rooms properly and not push them to finish faster in order to get a new patient in the bed. If we rush, we cut corners and those corners can be deadly.
As we come to the end of International Infection Prevention Week, I would like to give a shout out to the great jobs done by the housekeepers who work hard to keep facilities clean, to the nurses and doctors who work hard to keep us healthy and the Infection Preventionists who work tirelessly educating and helping to reduce HAIs!