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OCD (phobia of bacteria) and geocaching


torkel72
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Am I alone? I can't go caching without a bottle of antibacterial. I take photos before signing the cache, and use the antibacterial after signing it. I cannot go to events because of this. :(

 

I find caches kinda yucky. I once found a cache where there was a used sock in it. That was... well, words cannot describe it!

 

Even though, I love geocaching!

Edited by Greenadventure
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My wife and I have been opening moldy, mushy, swampy, yucky, grimy, mildewy containers since late 2001. And some are even worse than that! I used to worry about it a tad and I do have small bottles of hand sanitizer in the geobags. Sometimes I even remember to use the sanitizer before eating snacks while geocaching... but not always.

 

I rarely get sick and when norovirus slammed our immediate family of nine in three generations four years back I and my 5-year-old granddaughter whom I took caching frequently at that time both escaped with only minor or no symptoms. Two weeks ago I warded off noro type symptoms which were brief and mild. That's about it for me over the past 14 years. Maybe a couple of colds. This could likely be due to a genetically strong immune system but it shows me that I have not been harmed by handling funky cache containers. We live in the Pacific coast wet zone and containers can get bad very quickly.

 

When I first took my young grandkids geocaching I was concerned about exposing them to some bad germs and I wondered if some of the gifts should be cleaned at home before they could play with them. My son and daughter, both with science backgrounds and jobs, said they wanted their kids out rummaging around in the dirt to be exposed to a broader range of bacteria than our sanitized homes provide in order to boost their immune systems. I haven't seen any evidence in our family that geocaching has resulted in illness.

 

Events are about the same as any other party, group gathering or shopping outings as far a disease transmission goes. Colds, flu and norovirus can spread anywhere people gather but the incidence is VERY LOW otherwise everyone would be constantly sick. Washing hands before eating at an event might be a good idea but I never seem to remember to do that.

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There's really no way to get around running into yucky containers when geocaching. It's an unavoidable part of the activity.

 

I always think it's funny that people use antibacterial hand sanitizer instead of washing with soap and water before eating. If you have poo on your hands, you still have poo on your hands after using sanitizer (it's just sanitized poo). Even worse is if you have hazardous chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, mercury, lead, etc.) on your hands, hand sanitizer does absolutely nothing to remove those chemicals. Best to wash away the poo or chemicals with soap and water.

 

As Team Sagefox mentioned, some level of bacteria is actually healthy to build our immune system to stay healthy.

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I am wondering if your quest for cleanness affects things in your life other than geocaching and events. I am a nurse and we don't leave home without hand sanitizer. I often wipe tables at fast food places with Lysol wipes, the kind tough enough they say NOT to use them on your body. When I go caching, I am careful not to touch my face and wipe down the steering wheel after the trip, but between caches I am comfortable with staying "dirty". Caches are dirty, just because they are outdoors exposed to, well, whatever nature does to/on them. Like TS I have been fortunate to rarely get sick and before last June, I had not been to a doctor in over 20 years. I don't quite understand how you feel that events are "dirty". Quite interesting...

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This probably isn't what you're hoping to see but....OCD is NOT a phobia of bacteria. Worrying about germs (amd its a different way than a phobia) could be part of OCD but it isn't what OCD is, and not all who have OCD are worried about germs, or cleanliness or anything similar to that.

 

Unfortunately this is the nature of geocaching. People touching the caches and leaving things in them. And that is the nature of most events, lots of people around. Except for one event I've heard of - and introverts event. Show up whenever you like, only 2 or 3 people there at at time.

 

Not trying to be mean, but if it does bother you that much, #1 maybe geocaching isn't for you. And #2 maybe you should go see someone.

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Humans need to get dirty. We all need to get exposed to many germs. Most of the problems with kids illness

today is from lack of exposure to the microbes in our environment. Granted some are real bad but exposure to

the mild stuff makes us stronger. Soap and water is all we need to wash. far too much antibacterial stuff is used

and is making supper bugs today. I was hit by one once July 1996, an unidentifiable fungus combined with Strep A and Staff.

I got it in the worst place possible. My sinus, It almost blinded me in one eye and as the medical staff told me

it was the worst that had been seen in the hospital ever. Five years earlier and I would have been dead.

I was on antibiotics for a year and a half. I also had two surgeries and have minor nerve damage. The bacteria ate some nerves.

Don't help those germs to get stronger.

Just go get dirty and use soap. As for me I play in the mud the blood and the crud. Only the real strong bugs can get to me.

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I grew up playing and catching tadpoles and frogs in gutters, catching lizards and all sorts of stuff that was yucky. Cleaning fish, skinning rabbits and gardening with of all things manure. I walk into a supermarket and they have free antibacterial wipes to wipe the trolley handles. Walked into the chemist and they had disposable toilet covers and spray on stuff for the toilet seat and stuff to wipe your hands with in case you came into contact with something and stuff to sanitise this and germicide that.

No wonder the children today have so much wrong with them, they are not allowed to catch a bug to save themselves.

I still catch tadpoles and frogs, get bloody cleaning fish and rabbits, developed a taste for raw fish and steak and eat oysters straight of the rocks.

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If you don't get dirty and/or bloody it's not a good day of geocaching.

 

Being overly obsessed with germs is not healthy. Overuse if antibacterials just selects for resistant bacteria. They are everywhere . Everything is covered with bacteria and mold spores. You can't get away from it. The rise of Asthma in kids is probably due to the parents insisting the kids not get dirty. Playing in the dirt exposes them to microorganism that they build up an immunity to.

 

Have gotten numerous scrapes and scratches with blood running from them while out geocaching and never got a sing;e infection.

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I grew up playing and catching tadpoles and frogs in gutters, catching lizards and all sorts of stuff that was yucky. Cleaning fish, skinning rabbits and gardening with of all things manure. I walk into a supermarket and they have free antibacterial wipes to wipe the trolley handles. Walked into the chemist and they had disposable toilet covers and spray on stuff for the toilet seat and stuff to wipe your hands with in case you came into contact with something and stuff to sanitise this and germicide that.

No wonder the children today have so much wrong with them, they are not allowed to catch a bug to save themselves.

I still catch tadpoles and frogs, get bloody cleaning fish and rabbits, developed a taste for raw fish and steak and eat oysters straight of the rocks.

 

Well, the wipes at grocery stores are there because there is e coli on the cart handles from children. The handles are dirtier than toilets.

 

I understand that washing hands with soap and water is far superior to using antibacterial stuff, but I'll sure use it in a pinch. As long as it's just the kind with alcohol, it's not as bad. But of course it doesn't really destroy all bacteria as it dries in less than a minute to two.

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Glad to hear you enjoy caching. Germs and dirt don't bother me personally. It would probably be a good idea to wear gloves, but I find myself too lazy. It's going to dry out your hands to be using hand sanitizer all the time. Gloves might be a better option. I know cachers who use them. Having said that, it sounds like you would benefit from professional help for your OCD. If it's interfering with your life such that you feel you can't go to events, you've got a problem.

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When I started caching nearly 6 years ago I was a bit shocked by how many moldy logs I encountered.

 

I deal with moldy or otherwise messy cache containers two ways:

 

1. I keep handwipes in my geo-vehicle and usually also in my geo-pack. If I handle a messy cache I can wipe my hands off after putting it back.

 

2. Snacks that I bring with me while geocaching are things like granola bars that I can eat out of the wrapper without having to touch the food directly with my hands. I wash with soap and water after geocaching but before eating a regular meal, and take a shower when I get home.

 

3. If I open a cache container and find the log is moldy or the contents are otherwise messy/nasty due to a leaking container or whatever (or, for clear containers, if I can see the contents are a mess even before opening) then I simply close the container and put it back where I found it with physically signing the log. It's simply not worth handling. (Some folks around here will say that means means a Find cannot be claimed, but I would disagree; that's a topic for a separate thread and one that I believe has been covered on these forums before.)

 

I don't mind getting a little dirty or getting scratched up a bit by the foliage, but I have my limits. Or to put it another way: I played in the dirt as a kid, but not in the mud.

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There's a big difference between germs.

 

  1. Germs that grow in meat: BAD. Those make people sick. I won't eat raw meat, and am scrupulous about cleanliness in the kitchen.
  2. Germs that grow on the forest floor: OK. They make compost, and have no interest in attacking me. I love to harvest compost out of the bin out back and run my hands through it. Moldy caches: same category, except for the loving-to-run-hands part.
  3. Germs in your own gut: OK. They're actually a huge part of your immune system. Don't kill 'em with antibiotics, or you'll be sorry.
  4. Germs from somebody else's gut: BAD. Great way to get their diseases. That's why we're expected to wash our hands after using the toilet, and especially before going straight to the salad bar and grabbing the same tongs I'll be grabbing right after you.

Disclaimer: I am not a biologist. But I haven't been whalloped with a bad infection yet.

Edited by Viajero Perdido
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When it comes to bacteria and germs, i'm on the opposite side of the spectrum than most. These things are everywhere and while some of them are on/in things that gross me out, most don't affect me. It pretty much depends on how well your immune system is established. There are people who eat stuff that makes most of us gag, possibly get sick on, or cause death. Their bodies can handle this.

 

I'm a firm believer in letting my immune system try and take care of things. I will go to the doctor if something gets too bad but i don't go in for things such as a cold or flu, at least so far in my life.

 

Having said this, only the OP knows what he can handle. We don't know what he's been through or if his immune system is not up to par. If it's phobia, then there's probably not much we could say here to alleviate his concerns. It would take a professional to address this.

 

Not matter what, i do hope that the OP learns how to handle this as i know it impacts his quality of life.

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I'm a firm believer in letting my immune system try and take care of things.

 

There is increasing scientific evidence that supports this view. For example, there is a case to be made that the lack of parasites in early life leads the immune system to over-react to other things, resulting in autoimmune diseases such as lupus and MS.

 

There is good evidence that our immune system is dependent on exposure to bacteria; in particular, bacteria in the soil and environment that co-evolved with us in such a way that the immune system depends on them for proper development.

 

Where do you think our gut microbial environment came from? Without it we would die. In fact, we have more bacteria in our bodies than we have somatic ("normal") cells!

 

Hygiene can be a very good thing -- improvements have had a large impact on many diseases. But too much hygiene, like too much of most things, is not a good thing. A simplistic view that "bacteria == bad" is actually quite harmful.

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Germy stuff in the woods doesn't bother me much. I've been sick maybe two or three times in the last 10 years for maybe a day or two at a time, so it's hard for me to take it too seriously. I often eat lunch in my truck after a morning of caching. I wipe my hands off real good before eating and then try not to lick my fingers. But really, how can you not lick your fingers after Popeye's fried chicken?

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There's a big difference between germs.

 

  1. Germs that grow on the forest floor: OK. They make compost, and have no interest in attacking me. I love to harvest compost out of the bin out back and run my hands through it. Moldy caches: same category, except for the loving-to-run-hands part.

 

You do have to be a little bit careful with these ones. There are many, many cases of people ending up with Legionnaire's disease after handling potting mix or compost, don't let it stop you be just be wary of it.

Ditto with the mouldy caches. Aspergillus spores (what you're most likely to find in a cache), in fact and mould spores inhales will knock you for 6, don't go sticking your nose right in a mouldy cache.

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Shopping trolley handles, coins, plastic money, paper money, magazines in Doctor's waiting rooms, Dentist's rooms, books from the library and even packets of non prescription drugs from the pharmacist or chemist that have been handled have bugs on them. Don't get sick and have to spend time in hospital or even have to have an operation, hospitals are full of bugs. Step on a snail with bare feet and you could die from a flesh eating bug. A simple encounter with a spider could introduce a flesh eating bug that may need you to spend time in a chamber at low pressures with a diver with the bends. A simple street café meal could end you in intensive care and who knows how much brain damage. An encounter with some ones pet Budgie could give you a life threatening disease. You could go overseas and get bitten by a mosquito and get malaria.

 

Give up Geocaching and go and live in a plastic bubble is my answer!

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When I first took my young grandkids geocaching I was concerned about exposing them to some bad germs and I wondered if some of the gifts should be cleaned at home before they could play with them. My son and daughter, both with science backgrounds and jobs, said they wanted their kids out rummaging around in the dirt to be exposed to a broader range of bacteria than our sanitized homes provide in order to boost their immune systems. I haven't seen any evidence in our family that geocaching has resulted in illness.

Love it! That's exactly how my mom and dad (mostly mom) raised me. I almost never heard my mom fretting about germs, except the time I darned near cut off a portion of my leg with an ax (oops!). Either through genetics, or the broad exposure to the outdoors, or a combination of both, I'm rarely sick. People in the office getting sick? Not me. I haven't had the flu in over 10 years. A cold is more of a, "Hmm, am I coming down with something?" then it's gone.

 

Get out there and get dirty!

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Do people that fear germs or bacteria live longer? <_<

 

I do have fear of things... Height is one of them. If you look at some of my caches I found, I done plenty of them. Why I do them? Because I feel if I let fear control me, it will kill me anyway.

 

Rattlesnakes is another thing I fear alot. I am extra careful about rattlesnake because as a deaf person, I cant hear them. I keep my eye peals for them and hope I can see them before its too late. Does it stop me? No...not at all. I do know walking in a straight line is the best way for snake to "hear" you.

 

One thing I noticed about people (my ex girlfriend is one) that got fear of germs or bacteria, they use too much chemicals and antibiotics. That really bug me. If you got that kind of fear, you have no business geocaching!!

 

Being clean and being safe is one thing...but having a fear of something "germly" is more dangerous to your health. I had worked in very dirty situation. Meat meal, fish meal and many other crapy dirty things and and still alive and healthy.

 

We are going to die someday... let just live our life to the fullest. Take risk (not talking about careless or dumb/stupid risks)

 

Last of all... go out and have fun...even those log sheet are "dirty".

Edited by SwineFlew
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There's a big difference between germs.

 

  1. Germs that grow in meat: BAD. Those make people sick. I won't eat raw meat, and am scrupulous about cleanliness in the kitchen.
  2. Germs that grow on the forest floor: OK. They make compost, and have no interest in attacking me. I love to harvest compost out of the bin out back and run my hands through it. Moldy caches: same category, except for the loving-to-run-hands part.
  3. Germs in your own gut: OK. They're actually a huge part of your immune system. Don't kill 'em with antibiotics, or you'll be sorry.
  4. Germs from somebody else's gut: BAD. Great way to get their diseases. That's why we're expected to wash our hands after using the toilet, and especially before going straight to the salad bar and grabbing the same tongs I'll be grabbing right after you.

Disclaimer: I am not a biologist. But I haven't been whalloped with a bad infection yet.

 

I generally don't get too worked up about dirty stuff in the woods. I usually come home smelling like a swamp. But on the other hand, some of the deadliest viruses in the world were "discovered" while rifling around through the forests and jungles..

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To add another fun forest hazard to the list: Caching along the trail and coming from the last cache find before I decided to eat my Starbuck's snack-pack finger food lunch I met up with a very friendly dog who instantly filled my palm with viscus snot-slobber. It doesn't get any better than that! It made me think about this forum topic right there on the spot.

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Am I alone? I can't go caching without a bottle of antibacterial. I take photos before signing the cache, and use the antibacterial after signing it. I cannot go to events because of this. :(

 

I find caches kinda yucky. I once found a cache where there was a used sock in it. That was... well, words cannot describe it!

 

Even though, I love geocaching!

 

I don't carry a bottle of antibacterial with me but between my job and Geocaching, I always wash my hands before I eat.

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I usually have a travel pack of sanitizing wipes in my car for those particularly funky caches I encounter. More often than not it's just because of mud or some other slimy substance I come into contact with...but I wouldn't say I'm a germophobe really. Also, since my kids often insist on rifling through the larger caches' stashes of swag, it is nice to have the wipes in case they want to take anything. Honestly, I'd rather there never be swag in a cache since 99 times out of 100 it's just gross, worthless junk.

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Interesting.

 

Given that kids - who notoriously don't wash their hands unless a grownup insists - like to rifle through caches, maybe I should be treating cache contents with MUCH more caution than I have been...

 

PS to the sock-in-cache comment: I saw "took toy, left my son's sock". Lemme guess, junior kicked off one, making the other worthless. Great trade!

Edited by Viajero Perdido
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There are things called plastic bubbles, hermetically sealed with total life support that could house all those susceptible to a dirty cache, dirty door handles, dirty shopping trolley handles, toilet doors in public places, toilet seats that need lifting to allow males to pee and will never let you have to walk across ground that may have been urinated on by men, dogs, cats or women who have had to much to drink. Thus making your life aseptically clean and would, unfortunately never allow you to geocache again!

I can wash my hands with normal soap and water as well as shower with the same at the end of the day and go out the next and get dirty again. How about we start talking about the Biological hazards such as dirty needles found at caches? I can't protect against one of those.

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How about we start talking about the Biological hazards such as dirty needles found at caches? I can't protect against one of those.

 

If I were to come across a cache where there are needles/syringes I'd just turn around and walk away. The same goes for "dark corners" people use as toilets. I don't "need" a smiley that much :ph34r: Fortunately we filter the caches we want to do in such a way we don't end up in places like that.

Edited by on4bam
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There are things called plastic bubbles, hermetically sealed with total life support that could house all those susceptible to a dirty cache, dirty door handles, dirty shopping trolley handles, toilet doors in public places, toilet seats that need lifting to allow males to pee and will never let you have to walk across ground that may have been urinated on by men, dogs, cats or women who have had to much to drink. Thus making your life aseptically clean and would, unfortunately never allow you to geocache again!

I can wash my hands with normal soap and water as well as shower with the same at the end of the day and go out the next and get dirty again. How about we start talking about the Biological hazards such as dirty needles found at caches? I can't protect against one of those.

 

Reminds me of Anthony Edwards's character from Northern Exposure. But the space suit would have made it possible for him to go find caches.

 

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Only ever found one cache that was too yucky to touch. Unfortunately we'd already opened it at that time: someone, or most likely several people had peed inside and the cache was left unfound for a substantial amount of time :blink:

Everything else doesn't matter to me. I don't mind getting in contact with soil, leaves or most other natural materials (well, I have a mild mushroom phobia thus I try to sneak around the 'shroom so that it doesn't see me). Other than that? Pulling a cache out of a goat skeleton which had died on the cache quite a while ago? There are worst things.

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How about we start talking about the Biological hazards such as dirty needles found at caches? I can't protect against one of those.

 

If I were to come across a cache where there are needles/syringes I'd just turn around and walk away. The same goes for "dark corners" people use as toilets. I don't "need" a smiley that much :ph34r: Fortunately we filter the caches we want to do in such a way we don't end up in places like that.

 

Hm, the only two times that I found a syringe at a cache site were at nice city parks. I guess I would have to only cache in the country to avoid them, then.

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I met a doctor earlier this year who didn't shake hands; he would fist bump instead. He wasn't trying to be hip; he knew how many germs were on the average person's hands.

 

He knows how people are. Many come out of the bathroom without washing. No tellin how many pick and then shake. Then you have those who constantly adjust and/or scratch around their boys. No, i'm not worried about dying if i shake someone's hand but it is kinda gross when i think about it... eeewwwwwwww.

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If you are afraid of germs and moldy logs, the best time to cache is right now, in winter. All those damp logs will be frozen and you won't need to worry about bacteria.

 

The downside is that you need a good pair of gloves, boots or ski pants to find caches. Digging around in the snow raises most caches difficulty by one or two easy. Still a good idea to wash your hands.

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Am I alone? I can't go caching without a bottle of antibacterial. I take photos before signing the cache, and use the antibacterial after signing it. I cannot go to events because of this. :(

 

I find caches kinda yucky. I once found a cache where there was a used sock in it. That was... well, words cannot describe it!

 

Even though, I love geocaching!

 

Then do I have a cache for YOU. Micro on the bottom of a fire plug. People are never tightening the lid tight enough, so it is almost always damp and moldy. Also, someone left used chewing gum in it once, so at least it was minty fresh for a while.

 

Seriously though, sounds like you either need to double up on your therapy sessions or find another pastime. :rolleyes:

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Am I alone? I can't go caching without a bottle of antibacterial. I take photos before signing the cache, and use the antibacterial after signing it. I cannot go to events because of this. :(

I'm sorry, that's really sad. :sad: Do you also have trouble going to the library? Eating out? Buying stuff? Pushing a cart at the grocery store? Pumping gas? Do you have a pet?

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Then do I have a cache for YOU. Micro on the bottom of a fire plug. People are never tightening the lid tight enough, so it is almost always damp and moldy. Also, someone left used chewing gum in it once, so at least it was minty fresh for a while.

 

Seriously though, sounds like you either need to double up on your therapy sessions or find another pastime. :rolleyes:

 

Geocaching may just be the best therapy around for a mysophobic person, called exposure therapy.... cheaper, and I suspect more effective than talking to a psychologist.....

Stick with it I say.....

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Then do I have a cache for YOU. Micro on the bottom of a fire plug. People are never tightening the lid tight enough, so it is almost always damp and moldy. Also, someone left used chewing gum in it once, so at least it was minty fresh for a while.

 

Seriously though, sounds like you either need to double up on your therapy sessions or find another pastime. :rolleyes:

 

Geocaching may just be the best therapy around for a mysophobic person, called exposure therapy.... cheaper, and I suspect more effective than talking to a psychologist.....

Stick with it I say.....

 

Yeah, stick with it. Just avoid those "That looks real" caches near dog parks. :anibad:

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Then do I have a cache for YOU. Micro on the bottom of a fire plug. People are never tightening the lid tight enough, so it is almost always damp and moldy. Also, someone left used chewing gum in it once, so at least it was minty fresh for a while.

 

Seriously though, sounds like you either need to double up on your therapy sessions or find another pastime. :rolleyes:

 

Geocaching may just be the best therapy around for a mysophobic person, called exposure therapy.... cheaper, and I suspect more effective than talking to a psychologist.....

Stick with it I say.....

 

That's one of the reasons that I visited India, because I have problems with germs. I figured if I could live through a month there, I could could live through anything (no offense to anyone from India). I still have problems with germs, but it's put things more in perspective for me.

 

Some of the least germaphobic people I know are doctors and nurses. They're actually scarily the other way, almost like they have a death wish. :laughing:

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