Skipping the handshakes and the hugs

It’s the season of contagious viruses again.  I am amused that as I sat down to write about this, I realized it was almost exactly one year ago that I wrote a similar post.  The big difference now is not in the outside world, but in me.

One year ago, I wrote about how easy it was to catch those germs from other people, especially through socially-mandated handshakes.  What’s changed is that I’m ignoring the social norms.  Last week I avoided shaking hands when I should have, I backed out of a couple of hugs, and I stopped mid-high 5 as I remembered the germs.  Each time, the person was surprised, but a quick, “I have a lousy immune system and the flu is going around” took care of it.  I was amazed at how well people have been responding so far.  Every time I make plans with friends, I ask them if they think they might be coming down with anything.  They aren’t offended, and they understand why I’m asking.

I think the real test will be next week.  I’m going to an event where friends will want to hug and every new person I meet (and there will be many) will want to shake hands.  I plan to wear pretty lace gloves that have been sitting in a drawer just waiting to be worn.  They’ll be a bit of a barrier.  Still, I will try to avoid hugs and handshakes.  I hate to tell people that I have a bad immune system, but simply saying that I’m worried about the flu makes me sound paranoid.  I could say I’m worried about the norovirus (which sounds worse than the flu to me in many ways!) but that’s probably no better.  When the time comes, I’ll figure it out.  But whatever I say, I know what I’ll do…. or actually, what I won’t do: I won’t risk my health by bending to social pressures.  Let the others shake hands and then pick up the veggie sticks and sandwiches.  I’ll be keeping my hands clean… and a bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse, just in case.

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