Posted 7/15/2007 3:14 PM (GMT -6)
I agree with the others: you're going to have to tell her that you won't watch them if they're sick. Granted, they say that people are most contagious before they show symptoms...so there really isn't a way to eliminate ALL risk of infection.
 
But to me it's logical: If there's fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or the first day or two of sniffles, coughs, etc...you cannot risk your health by babysitting!
 
My heart goes out to you, though, about not wanting to seem germ-phobic. Lots of people today are that way, without a good reason to be.
 
One of my dear friends, Pam, is dear to me in every way except that she just doesn't "get" the whole germ thing. She's really pressing me to do a child-care swap with her when she goes back to school in the fall. I'd love to help her out, and before my diagnosis, I would have. But her little one is three, all three of her older kids are in elementary/middle school, and the little one stays sick. My two boys are homeschooled, and though they get together with other h.s'd kids a couple of times a week, they aren't in big groups of other children, exposed to things all day long. It's very rare that either of them get sick anymore. But I fear that if I watch her little boy we'll be back to catching everything he and his brothers bring home.
 
I was very laid-back about the germ issue the first year or so after my diagnosis. Then, a simple respiratory infection ended up causing myositis (muscle inflammation). It took months of physical therapy to get over the pain and to regain full use of my shoulder and hip joints. In addition to homeschooling my young sons, I'm a freelance writer, and I just can't take the chance of adding more infection risk to my life. I have too much to do.
 
Ordinary people get a cold and they're down for a maybe a day, then sniffle for a week. We get a cold, and we could be the same...OR, we could be in bed for weeks and have it turn into all sorts of complications. It's just not worth it.
 
I think it's admirable of you to take care of these girls. But you have to look out for yourself, too. What'll she do if you catch something from them, and then you aren't capable of watching them at all for weeks or months until you're better?
 
Sorry that got long, but I have strong feelings on the subject! :-)
Kari
Wife, writer, artist, mom to 2 wonderful boys
Lupus, arthritis, PCOS, mild depression
Now taking: plaquenil, limbrel, metformin XR, Zoloft, and the occasional percoset

Posted 7/16/2007 10:02 PM (GMT -6)
Hi Pat--
I think it's very very kind to take the kids as much as you do. AA can be helpful, it can be a crutch, an escape, an addiction, or a social circle that can be very unhealthy in many ways. I find it very sad that your step daughter cannot go a day without wanting a drink though it has been years and she has children and a family that should be a healthy distraction. I'm probably not very popular with my opinion but I've been there done that and got the t-shirt more than once and know that the only way you quit anything is just to quit, and if you aren't constantly picking at that wound, you will rewire your brain to not think of reaching for a drink as a solution to every problem. For some people, AA is a constant reminder that they have a problem, and some really feel like they need to belong, and this is a place where they can belong and not get into trouble, though I've met some groups that used to stop at the bar afterward. It sounds like she's leaning a lot on you, and AA in perhaps a not so healthy way. Unless you're really involved in the organization, after years many people can forego daily meetings, usually because they are busy with their families. At some point you need to shed the addiction mindset and realize that you can't put your life and kids on hold forever and quite frankly, get over some of it. Addicts who are incarcerated do this all the time. I think she may need some counselling to supplement the AA by someone who can help her to overcome her addiction to AA. Looking at my kids and wanting to be there for them is enough to keep me where I need to be and most other successful quitters usually find the same things to be true. As for bringing the kids when they are sick, she is very focused on herself and her problems first, before her kids and you, and this is the mindset AA encourages because in the beginning this is what you need, but I really question this in the long run. After years, you should be able to achieve a balance and have cut yourself off from temptation and have some fortitude and consideration for others. The AA mindset can be a very selfish, self-absorbed mindset, but the idea is that once you learn how to quit and to keep yourself out of bad situations, you can become a more giving and considerate person. I know you are probably not in the position to suggest counselling, but maybe you could plant a seed somehow. And I wouldn't feel at all guilty about refusing to take them if they arrive with a cold or sick, or even if you just plain don't feel well. It might make her realize that yes, she is an addict, but she also is a mother with responsibilities and she needs to stop feeling sorry for herself and take care of her family. Boy I know I sound cold, but I've seen AA work only in people who really want to be better and once they stop, the enjoy the benefits of not being an addict, like spending time with their family and doing things they couldn't do because of their illness. If the kids are there or have been there, you may want to get some lysol and soak down the pillows and sofa and chairs and all, wash everything, and see about getting an air purifier. Maybe,. if they are sick, you can put their toys and stuff in a bedroom with a tv and make it safe so that they are just in one room of the house. And as a nurse, your stepdaughter should know that colds are generally contagious for two weeks after the symptoms have left the child. I also question her choice of job with her very active addiction--addiction does go into remission in many people--and being around drugs, its like being a bartender and going to AA. Not a good combination. Well, I really feel for you as I'm sick now with a cold my family brought home, just unavoidable, and I wish you strength not to get sick and I hope your stepdaughter comes to her senses soon or gets some help to move her on to the next stage and get her addiction into remission. It should be well into remission by now and she should be able to attend fewer AA meetings. Also, you might suggest she get involved in some of the online AA meetings. With a webcam, from your home, you can chat live during them and she might find that less of a toll on her family. AA does need an overhaul in their methodology, which is crisis based. There is little help for moving on to a more moderate less time consuming focus on addiction, which is necessary for you to get better in the long haul. Take care and I feel for you and you are an angel for helping her with the kids. Don't be afraid to take a week off or something. Eventually she has to stand on her own two feet. And if she drinks, that's her fault, not yours, after all, after years of AA she should be past this point if it is really working and she really wants to quit.
Love, Marji
--Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less in human beings of whom they know nothing.--Voltaire (1694-1778)
Ills--Sjogrens-Lupus-like AI Disease, Hashis, Vitiligo, spinal stenosis/fusion with plate, salivary/lymphectomies, Diabetes, NAFLD, COPD, RLS, neuropathy, trigonitis, hystero, diffuse brain atrophy
Meds--Plaquenil, Evoxac, Metformin, Synthroid, HCTZ, Estradiol patch, Prosed, Klonopin, Soma, Ultram, Vicodin, Restasis, Albuterol,steroid injections, Protopic & Triamcinolone Acetonide ointments

Posted 7/17/2007 12:54 AM (GMT -6)
Thanks so much to all of you for your thoughts and concerns. I had a real nice talk with my stepdaughter this evening and she was very understanding and supportive. She and her kids and her brothers were all over here for a barbeque yesterday and I was in bed nursing my migraine, and she was the only one who came up and quietly asked how I was and wanted to know if I needed anything and if she could bring me up a plate of food. She is a wonderful person, but was severely abused by a mentally ill mother when she was growing up. Alcohol was her way out. She's now the top person in AA in this part of the State, but is going to step down and play a less active roll when her term is up so that she can spend more time with her girls. I struggled with this issue for years until I realized that her daughters are so much better off with her going to AA meetings than if she were drunk. The girls come over here a lot to help her, but they would anyway because we love them and love to have them around.

Marji, I appreciate your suggestions and it sounds as though you know quite a bit about the program. My stepdaughter is 31 and I've always made it a point never to tell any of my adult kids what to do. I might ask them about a choice they've made, but they are adults and as hard as it is sometimes, I try to treat them like adults.

Carol and Sheryl, I'm sorry you've both had to battle with alcoholic family members. My first experience was 9 1/2 years ago when I married my hubby and all three of his kids were addicts. And he was raised by alcoholics. His kids are all sober now, but I know it has been a real struggle for them.

Kari, I'm with you on having strong feelings on the subjects of germs when we're immunosuppressed. We have to take care of ourselves and that includes educating the people we're around.
Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren's, osteoarthritis, fibro, ibs, renauds, restless leg, hiatal hernia, double vision.

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Posted 7/17/2007 9:10 AM (GMT -6)
Pat, your stepdaughter does indeed sound like a wonderful person. It sounds like she has done a wonderful job overcoming the obstacles in her life. How sweet of her to come up and check on you when you weren't feeling well. I'm so glad that your talk with her went well and that she was understanding.
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Posted 7/17/2007 10:12 AM (GMT -6)
I don't think you're being paranoid.
When the ppl I work with get sick, I asked them to call me or leave stuff outside my office as opposed to having them come into my office.
When family/boyfriend or friends are sick, I will also ask them to keep their distance.
I get sick enough. Mind you, getting a cold once and while is not awful, it's the flu I worry about.
At least your SD was understanding, most people would be insulted at such honesty

Jen

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