Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Germaphobic's Trip to the Grocery Store



Saturday I figured I was out of the contagious stage of my norovirus or stomach flu---whatever label that correctly applies to having a fourteen hour long episode of vomiting and diarrhea followed by two days of holding the bed mattress down. I hadn’t eaten much since the “event” plus I purged most of the contents of my refrigerator just in case there were germs creeping round inside the deli containers and on the fruits and veggies ready to jump out attack me again. I bleached the heck of that appliance and I disinfected everything I’d touched around the house. I even threw out my lipstick, Chap Stick, toothbrush, lanyard, shower puff, toilet brush, slippers and assorted clothing and I washed all my cloth grocery bags because I’ve heard they’ve been known to be a safe harbor for germs. Call me paranoid but I never want to be that sick again.

I needed a trip to the grocery store. I was out of everything plus I needed some probiotics because Dr. Google said they would help to get my system going again. Before I left, I wiped down everything inside the car that I might have touched before I got sick because I was sure I was fitted with special lens in my glasses that allowed me to see viruses and germs EVERYWHERE. Once at the store I attacked wiping down my shopping cart like it was a metal slab in the morgue. Normally I love grocery shopping and I’ve never been germaphobic there but this time was different. I noticed everything. When I saw an employee spraying cleaner inside an empty meat case I thought, Oh, no! They know they’ve selling viruses and germs with their hamburger!  The food demonstrators who I normally love to chat with seemed like heroin dealers trying to lure me into dark alleys. 

By the time I got to the liquor aisle where they were giving away samples of tequila I was tempted because my nerves needed settling down and I’ve never had tequila. I figured if the old-time doctors could use whiskey to clean out wounds, then alcohol would be safe. As I stood there deciding if I would or wouldn’t a woman my age was badgering the demonstrator to give her more than the half ounce portion he was allowed to serve. I walked away in disgust. Who tries to bully a food demonstrator into giving them more of a controlled substance! Next Up: The bakery section where I was happy they weren't giving out samples because Dr. Google says sugar and dairy are off limits until after the probiotics does its job of building the good bacteria back up in our systems. Too bad because ice cream and cookies sounded better to me than anything else in the world and they’re often featured samples. I’ve never used or took much interest in probiotics before but after several days of post norovirus belly bloating I figured it was worth a try. Trying to force farts wasn’t working and I was about to jab an ice pick in my belly button to let out the air. 

While I was at the store I decided to look for an elbow guard to protect my Popeye’s Elbow. The health and pharmacy department didn’t have any. So off I went to the sports department where I found a shooter’s sleeve apparently used by basketball players that had a padded elbow. It looked like it would help but when I saw the $39.95 price tag I decided I’d Duct Tape an empty pudding cup over my elbow before I’d pay that much. And I do need something. Since I discovered the golf ball sized lump I’ve become aware of how often I lean on my elbow. Like every time I’m sitting in front of the computer screen for starters. I stop typing I lean. I’m reading on the web, I lean. I realized that I’ve been leaning on my left elbow since childhood and I have the photos to prove it. But all was not lost. As I was leaving the sports department I spotted a part of fingerless gloves in the yoga section. (Whichever blogger friend gave me that tip, thanks!) Now I have a nice looking black pair that I could actually wear out in public. The fingerless gloves I live in around the house are an old, ratty red knit pair that are full of pilling no matter how often I use my handy-dandy sweater shaver on them. But my hands feel so much warmer and less arthritic when I’m wearing them. 

Well, that’s all from Black and Blue City. Did I mention that I found a six inch round black and blue mark on my arm and a smaller one on my leg? Apparently when I fell during my fourteen hours in Sickness Hell, I fell pretty hard. I’m lucky I didn’t break any bones. ©

30 comments:

  1. Oh.My.Goodness. You have been through the ringer. The probiotic is a good thing to continue taking in my humble opinion. But I am not a doc. :-) You've never had tequila before? Hmm...you shouldn't have tequila and need lemon and salt. It should be smooth and almost tasteless and made with agave. Good tequila is great but there are so many that aren't so you aren't missing anything Jean. I hope you are jumping up and down soon because you feel so great!

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    1. I do like to try new things (to me). I've never been around people who like tequila so I've never had the opportunity to taste it. It cracks me up every time I try a wine or hard liquor at the grocery store because by law they have to card everyone, regardless of being an obvious senior citizen. Glad I'm not missing anything with the tequila.

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  2. Bless your heart, dear Jean! I feel the same way about all the Potential Flu Carriers out in the world these days. I have a shitful immune system, and I understand.

    Still laughing about your Duct Tape & Pudding Cup contraption. Hard.

    Now go treat yourself to a trip to Walgreens or CVS for an elbow compression support sleeve. It should only be about 12 bucks.

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    1. Walgreens! I keep forgetting about that place and it's close by. Boycotting works. LOL Thanks for reminding me.

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  3. Hi Jean - I enjoy your blog and am so sorry you have been sick. Don't know if this is available in your area, but where I live you can order groceries online and have them delivered (Instacart, Shipt, etc.). Works like a charm for those occasions when traipsing through the grocery store is a punishment. Keep writing and I'll keep reading. Laurel in Austin, TX

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    1. We do have a Shipt service here and I know in the future I will use it. I just wish it didn't have that $99 a year membership because, for now, I generally enjoy going to the store. But it's a big comfort to know the service is available. We've come full circle, haven't we. When I was a kid, the grocery store delivered and now we're right back there. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I apologize for all the little mistakes I just found (and corrected) in this blog entry. I thought I'd proof-read it a few times but apparently my head wasn't engaged in the activity.

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  5. I feel you! Hope you get completely well soon!

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    1. Me, too, Sharon and I hope you are feeling better as well. I miss your blog posts.

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  6. Wow Jean, I am so glad that you are feeling better, that time of being sick had to be miserable, now to avoid the germs and find some protection for your elbow. As for germs I should have invested in rubber gloves and clorox wipes because my wife uses them for everything, it's not a bad idea and I am surprised she doesn't wear them at the grocery store, but like you she does thoroughly clean the handle of the shopping cart.

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    1. My niece doesn't wear rubber gloves at the grocery store but she doesn't take off her winter driving gloves either. Seems like that would just transfer the germs to the steering wheel. Your wife, being a nurse, I can see why she's learned to be very careful. I'm not a rubber glove wearer either but in certain circumstances they do make sense, especially caring for Ray like you two do. Older people can get sick so easily.

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    2. P.S. I don't just wipe down the shopping cart handles, I do all the upper surfaces because sometimes I pull my cart from the front and I also put my purse in the baby seat.

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    3. Wiping down more than just the cart handle is actually a good idea, Cindy refuses to place her purse in the baby seat, mainly because of people stealing them than germs.

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    4. I have a hook on my purse that I can clip to the baby seat. If someone tries to take my purse the cart would tip over or go with them.

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  7. Oh ugh on being that sick. Nothing worse!! Just at the tail end of my third cold of this winter season and that is bad enough. But I'm not yet a germophobe. I think I need small doses of germs to build up my immune system. But the Dr's office made me wear a mask so this season is a wicked one for sure.

    I'm interested in probiotics now also. Maybe pill form to start and then move on to foods ... I think it's fermented stuff like kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, etc. Interesting article at

    https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-benefits-of-probiotics


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    1. The hospitals here are making people wear masks to visit and limiting the number of visitors per patient.

      Thanks for the link. I'll check it out but no pill form for me!

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    2. So what probiotics are you using? Specific food items?

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    3. You'd probably call them pretend probiotics. I'm using Activia Yogurt and Tropicana Essentials Probiotics.

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  8. You're back!!! I laughed out loud several times. And got up to wash my hands when I realized I'd been to Costco and forgot to wash when I got home! I've been so diligent about that and can really relate to your germophobia. I used to ridicule people who were paranoid of getting sick. No more. I am doing everything I can think of to stay well this winter. It's a little exhausting to constantly be on the look out for potential contamination, but so far so good. I read somewhere that we should launder our gloves, scarves, and event coats more often since they are the first line of defense when we are out and about but that we pick up germs and carry them around on those also. Anyway, I'm glad you are ok and worried that you feel and hurt yourself...scary!

    And don't even mention tequila to me. There was a party when I was 27 years old....40 years later I still can't even smell the stuff without gagging! LOL

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    1. I'm not a total germophobia. I'm just cautious, especially in flu season but having had the germs and/or viruses in and out of me I felt like I really needed to go into hospital mode like cleaning afterward. That makes sense about laundering out outerwear more often. That makes perfect sense and I'm lucky if I do mine twice a season...and usually just do them when I put them away. Thanks, now I have go do some laundry.

      I'm not the shot kind of drinker. If I'm drinking alcohol I like the paper-umbrella-in-the-glass kind of drinks, more like smoothies with a kick. You see so many shows on TV where people are doing tequila shots, though, I was curious.

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  9. That is by far the very worse stomach virus to get. I thought I was going to die and took days to shake the complete body weakness. I think it was even worse then the one time I had food poisoning. They say the Norvo Virus is caused by food handlers with feces on their hands. That knowledge keeps me from wanting to eat out!!!

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    1. I agree. It was worse than food poisoning. Sickest I've been and I'm still very tired. I ate out four times in the days before and had deli at home. Impossible to know where I got you it.

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  10. Get better soon, and know that there are many people out there in the ether who care about you - witness all the comments above. ~ Libby

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  11. Thanks. I'm doing a little better every day.

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  12. Here I am! The fingerless glove recommender! I mentioned that I use rock climbing gloves to sand. Glad you found some.

    And I'm sure you've had tequila -- at least, if you've had a frozen margarita you have (or a margarita on the rocks, for that matter - but the frozen are more popular and common.) I don't take tequila straight, but I do love my margarita, especially with Mexican food.

    For whatever reason, I've just never worried about germs. I take basic precautions, of course, but I've never wiped down a grocery cart in my life. Of course, it's been ages since I've been sick, too. I might be more cautious after that experience rolls around again -- or not. What's lurking around here right now are allergies. There's pollen being produced by the trees, and I noticed after sleeping with the windows open the last two nights (!!!) that I had a bit of a scratchy throat. It's probably the pine and oak. In another month, it will be thick, and everyone will be miserable.

    I'm glad you hear you're doing better. Remember that power of positive thinking dude in the 1930s or 1940s who counseled standing in front a mirror every day and saying, "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better"? I hope it's that way for you!

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    1. I guess I can cross that one off my Bucket List...I have had margaritas and I've loved them!

      I missed so much school when I was younger due to allergies. And when I was older I'd walk around half drugged on allergy meds. They've been a life long problem until recent years and they just stopped. I was allergic to trees and grasses both spring and fall. So I feel for you, they can be miserable.

      I remember that saying to do in front of a mirror! Norman Vincent Peale. I remember reading his book in the '50s because my best friend's dad recommended that we both do it.

      I am getting better every day. I think I'm at 98% as of today. The 2% will come in a day or two, I'm sure.

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  13. My goodness Jean, you've gone threw the ringer. Between your elbow, stomach, throat and derriere, I'm so happy that you are with us. Now tequila sounds interesting to me. Just don't swallow the worm that's in the bottom of the bottle.
    I've still got a cough or little tickle in my throat. What ever I had it's still carrying on a little longer. Get well my friend. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. A lot of people around here report coughs that are lasting for weeks. Take care of yourself!

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  14. I know I'm late reading this post. These last few weeks, I've fallen so far behind.

    You've beaten my 8-hour vomiting spree from food poisoning. I sympathize. I never used to r worry about it much, but I'm more vigilant now, throwing out anything in the fridge that even whispers of ickiness. H will sometimes eat it anyway. I tell him that he's been lucky so far, but if it ever 'gets' him, he will change his mind. I used to go fearlessly into stores and touch and feel whatever I chose. Now, after going in a store, I use sanitizer the minute I get in the car. In the grocery store, I use it on the bar that you push the cart with.

    I'm glad you made it through this and are feeling better.

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    1. Me too! It was a real wake up call on how alone I really am living alone.

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