Can You See Me Now?

I hang up my fresh towels on their accustomed rack. With just the one set in use, week in, week out, this is a household task that doesn’t show. I know they’re clean, but I get no visual cue that it is so, such as I would have if I changed colours at the same time.

Clean brown towels, hanging up.

I turn to replace the Big Guy’s towels and pause. Should I hang them up? Something tickles at the back of my brain.

The optometrist’s technician calls me in from the waiting room and gestures me into a chair. Using a disinfectant towelette, she wipes down the chin holder and forehead strap on the glaucoma-testing equipment.

OK, just lean forward.

As I do, I smile inwardly. I’m interested to note the choice she’s made: Not whether to clean the equipment between patients, but when. It would have been just as clean to wipe things down as the last activity for the preceding patient, just before calling me in, but it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as reassuring. I’m not particularly germ-phobic where my chin and forehead are concerned, but I understand that some patients might be.

I realize that this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this behaviour. My family doctor washes her hands in the room with me, before starting my examination. My dentist does the same thing. The doctor on rounds in the hospital sanitized his hands at the sink beside my father’s bed, lo these many years ago now. They all seem to be following the same protocol.

But while that is so, a long line of cases shows that it is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. – Lord Hewart CJ, R vs Sussex Justices, ex parte McCarthy

Like justice, hygiene must also be seen to be done.

So guided, I make my call.

Clean brown towels, folded and left on the counter.

And wonder how many other things are like hygiene and justice.




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10 Responses to Can You See Me Now?

  1. I’d prefer FAR more justice than hygiene. We all need to eat a peck of dirt….

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – LOL I wonder what the technician would have said if I’d asked her not to wipe down the chin rest? It would have given her a story for home, at least.

      • Always good to give people who have repetitive tasks a jolt. Makes their day, I bet.

        Like the new format — clean, uncluttered. Also like that you are now accepting CONTRIBUTIONS — don’t get me started.. oh, it’s for money — is that part of the set up and automatic? And, I the QUOTE & its reference. 😀

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Barbara – Well, I don’t necessarily like to jolt someone who’s about to do something to my eyes, but I take the general point. Glad you like the new format. It’s more effort than “they say” to make a change – isn’t it always?

  2. Tom Watson says:

    I have often wondered how many gazillion gallons of hand sanitizer is used. The dispensers are ubiquitous.

    On the note of the optometrist, my opthalmologist sanitizes his hands before I’m called in. Then he uses those little tear-off papers on the part you rest your head against. He tears one piece off just when you’re ready.

    I read in a novel the surgeon removed cataracts from right eyes on one day and left the next, so he never got mixed up. I asked my opthalmologist if he did that. He said that he knew some doctors who did that but he was sufficiently certain of what he was doing and so it didn’t matter.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom: Many gazillions of gallons, I expect. There’s a research project in there somewhere: Apart from specific risk areas (hospitals, residences where nasty gastroenteritis bugs are rampaging), are we any healthier for it? I’d hate to rely solely on a left/right surgical protocol – after 10 days, would you have any idea where you were in the alternation?

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    Okay, enough levity. Yes, Joan’s oncologist came into the examining room, said hello, went to the sink and washed his hands, just as you say. I asked him if he ever got tired of washing his hands over and over during the day. He said, “Sometimes my hands are bleeding by the time I go home at night.” That puts a different perspective on the hygiene fetish.
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – And yet, especially with cancer patients, who often have reduced immunity due to their treatments, can you imagine if they didn’t follow that protocol?

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