Today’s newest dilemma: Doesn’t this happen to all children? Isn’t the solution fairly simple? Comfort them and put a band-aid upon the wound, right? Not necessarily if your child has OCD and a horrific fear of germs. Additionally, if this child “knows” her junior high school is the most contaminated place on earth, how will she handle this scraped up knee? One of the dilemmas of parenting a child with severe OCD is that your never quite certain what’s rattling around in their head at any given moment or how their going to react. Two days after the initial incident, I asked to see the scrape to assure healing was on schedule. I was expecting to view a naturally occurring scab formed, thereby assuring her immune system was taking care of issue. I was, yet again, taken aback by what I saw on my precious child’s knee. In front of my bewildered eyes a raw deep cavern of flesh. Where’s the scab I questioned? What happened honey, what has happened? “Momma, the germs from school get into the scab and I have to get them out! You just don’t get it!” Sweetheart I said, “the scab is your bodies way of protecting the wound to heal. It keeps any germs out so it won’t get infected.” Exasperated she exclaimed, “the germs get into the scab and I HAVE to get them out!”
What is a mother to do, it’s late at night and tomorrow it’s back to the innumerable rituals relating to this excessive “school germaphobia” we face five days a week. What about her knee? If she goes to school tomorrow, it is inevitable that she will dig further into her flesh to remove the invisible foes lurking in her mind. All night I lie awake, thinking about the real danger associated with such a gaping wound. What should I do? Keep her home to allow a new scab to form in the assumed safety away from school? Should I send her to school only to await the inevitable upon her return. As she will spend hours in the shower scouring every inch and orifice of her little body to rid it of the “school germs?” Yet, today in addition to her “normal” shower routine she will be removing flesh yet deeper and deeper into her knee! Can her pediatrician help, I doubt it. She doesn’t get it either. What about her psychiatrist at Duke? He won’t help, he says she’s not treatable, “her only hope is medication and time.”
Upon mornings coming what did I decide to do, you ask? I let her sleep in. I will not blame the OCD for her missing school when she awakens. But, later today I’m going to discuss how we can differently wrap the wound such that it will remain “clean” while in school, tomorrow. Some say this may be enabling, I agree. However, sometimes the irrational fear of germs can create a situation where a reality based infection can become a serious issue. I can only pray my plan works and tomorrow may be just a little different than yesterday.