This is a very sensitive topic because people do not like to think about sickness nor about being responsible for spreading the sickness to others. As believers in Christ, we ought to be mindful of this. People just like to get together and have a good time of fellowship. They do not want to stay home or keep their kids home when one or more members of the family are infected with a virus.
When we do find out of others sickness, we ought to pray for them, send meals, or offer some kind of help where it is needed. That is also a kind and merciful way to be. You surely do not want to make people feel like you are avoiding them like the plague, you want to be loving and compassionate at the same time. You may not want to share a cup with them or get too close, but you could still pray for them and comfort them in some way.
Here is a little story about an experience I had years ago...
About 5 years ago we were having a home fellowship with a few families and I just thought it was common etiquette for people to let you know ahead of time if they are sick. One time just before we started our meeting, I noticed a mother doing something with her children's hair and I wondered what she was doing so intently. She later said that the kids had lice, but that she treated it that morning with a natural shampoo and that they won't spread it to others. This was after my girls were huddled in a little circle giggling and touching heads with the girls who had the lice treatment.
The mother assured me that we would not get lice. She even told me that we might feel itchy just thinking about it but that it would be in our mind only! So days passed and we became very itchy on our heads, I told her that I think we had lice, and she got upset and said that if we had it, it must be from our cow. Well, at that time I had been around animals long enough to know that they do not carry human lice. I tried the poisons over the counter at the drug store to treat the lice to no avail. And the friend became mean. She did not want to accept any sort of responsibility for bringing such a huge burden on our family. It actually made her so mad that she stopped being my friend over it.
It was a monumental thing. We had two weeks of misery dealing with the outbreak and trying to get it all under control. We vacuumed the whole house, bagged up all the pillows, disinfected everything and did another round of treatment which did not work. I then had to do some serious research because my own head was full of lice and it was very miserable. We finally found that Lysterine under a shower cap for one hour rinsed out with vinegar worked, and we were lice-free! (It does burn a little, so if you try this at home, be careful not to get it into anyone's eyes!)
I was upset that she did not let us know before she came, I would have told her to stay home. During our infection of lice, I stayed away from others, since I did not want to pass it along. Even weeks after the lice infestation seemed to be long passed, I still would let others know that we had it and that we had treated it. I told them we were not having any symptoms but I gave them the opportunity to still decline our invitation if they were worried about still being at risk of exposure. It was a hard time. I hated staying away from others, but I loved them more than myself. I felt that I would put others at risk and that that was not a good testimony.
Through the years I have seen countless families take everyone's health in their hands by showing up with either sick children or they leave sick children at home and bring the ones that are carrying the sickness. You see, if there are sick children who have the symptoms, the ones that still did not show the symptoms are just incubating the virus and are actually the most contagious of all. They go into public areas and leave the virus on every surface to give to all that are there. That is why many times you see entire churches or schools shut down because a virus will spread like wildfire.
A friend of mine brought her 3 week old baby to church and noticed a family with a couple kids who were coughing and even looked like they had fever. As a result of that exposure, her baby got so sick that she had to put the baby on heavy antibiotics and after 2 years of life, his health is still compromised from what he went through when he was a tiny baby. And it was all because someone did not consider others when they wanted to come to church with their sick children.
Old people can die if they get infected with certain viruses because they have a weaker immune system. When you practice the Love of Christ and loving your neighbor as yourself, you do not bring viruses to others. It is selfish to do so.
My mother is a nurse and she had to learn about these things because she was with sick people all the time. If she did not take proper precautions, she would be sick often. Growing up with a nurse as a mother has been helpful to me. I learned how to properly wash my hands and that washing my hands before I eat is a good practice.
As I grew into a mother, I learned some great tricks that help us all from getting sick. I want to share a few of these great tips today...
Never share cups!
- Viruses are spread through saliva and mucus membranes, so if you share a cup, even if it is your family member, if they are carrying a virus, you will surely get it as well. We went to an Amish church meeting and they would all be sick at the same time and then I saw that one lone cup sitting by the sink that EVERYONE shared. That was the reason they were all sick at the same time because they all spread the germs one to another. You can also get mouth sores and herpes from sharing cups and your chap stick.
Do NOT double dip!
- When you have salsa or are serving a dip of some kind, put a spoon in there and encourage people to put the dip on their plate. Teach your kids at home not to double, triple, quadruple dip! Some of you moms let your kids just lick their pretzels and keep on dipping in the same dip everyone is using. I see this happen a lot! And it is really gross! Not cute! Little children can learn how to keep their licking to their own plate.
Get your hands out of the snack bags!
- If you only knew where people put their hands before they put their hands into the bag of chips, you would never eat another chip from a bag again. Some kids take themselves to the bathroom, and they 'forget' to flush or wash their hands and that is because they are kids—it happens. And at gatherings, the kids might be off digging for bugs under a rock, or petting the dog, picking up a cat, you just don't know. But, when they put their hand in the bag, they are leaving some treasures behind. They wipe their snotty nose with the same hand they dig into the bag with. Yes, I see this all the time! This is how people can get parasites and other viruses. Teach your kids at home, or adults to wash their hands first before getting in line for their snacks or food. Another great idea is to just pour out the bag of snacks into a bowl with a set of tongs to serve the chips with.
Wash your hands frequently!
- This is a good habit to have. It really helps to do this often. Wash your hands after petting the animals, after the bathroom visit, before you eat, after you go to a public place, and even after you shake a persons hand. I know it sounds crazy, but I am telling you, you just never know. Maybe you do not even want to know. I just take hand sanitizer with me everywhere. I make it with essential oils in a solution of witch hazel, vodka, or vinegar. I put it into a little one dollar spray bottle and it works great. I spray my hands and the kids hands frequently when we are out and about. Even when they wash their hands in a public restroom, I still spray their hands just to be on the safe side, because they could touch the door handle which is very loaded with nasty germs. I use it after I pump gas for sure, or handle pocket change.
Cover your mouth when coughing!
- Everyone should already know this one, but a lot of people do not practice it. I see kids coughing right into the food everyone is supposed to eat! I am just not sure they are taught at home to be careful about that. I know kids just don't think, so that is why we as parents have to do the thinking for them. If your child has a hard time remembering, then perhaps you should have them stay away from the food table and you should gather their food for them. Reminding, teaching, helping them to find a tissue or cough into the sleeve of their shirt. Into the hand is not as good because then the germs are on the hand and that hand is now digging into the food or shaking hands with others, or touching every surface they see. Or better yet, when your child is coughing, keep them home!
Stay away from Sugar!
- When you are around sick people, if you eat a bunch of sugar, you will wear down your immune system, too. Sugar will help your virus grow faster and it will make your viruses stay longer in your system. Drink lots of water, get plenty of rest, and eat nutrient rich foods. Stay away from junk food because it all taxes your children's immune systems. The best line of defense is gut health and sugar control. 80% of your immune system is in your gut, so if you can keep yourself healthy that way, you can also build up more of a fighting chance when you are exposed to germs and viruses.
I must sound insensitive, or like a person with OCD germaphobia! Well, we don't like getting sick! In fact, if I find out a family is sick, I already know they will be going to church with their sickness, so we just stay home. We have to be on top of it because we have a daughter who has a more delicate health with her diabetes. For us, a stomach flu could turn into a very critical hospital visit for her. We just have to be more careful. And I think about the elderly, they are just so sensitive to illness and it could be very critical for them as well.
After reading this you probably wonder if you can go anywhere, well, let's not jump the gun! Lets just learn from this and be more courteous, and learn to just take a few simple steps in preventing the spread of viruses.
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
There is none other commandment greater than these."