Saturday, November 5, 2011

The new coughing etiquette

Things continue to get better, and I couldn't be more pleased about it.  It was about time!  I've now jogged 2km, cautiously with only a little bit of 'weird' feeling in my back after the first 1.5km, and I managed to vacuum and mop the house in the same day without much suffering.  I'm totally off the medications, and can lift an 8kg bucket of water without feeling like I might be doing myself harm.

I've been given the go ahead with caution by the Osteopath to resume yoga, which I've always found has helped my back to feel better able to deal with whatever I've thrown at it in life.  I haven't tried yet though, as I'm waiting for a day when "sickface" is out of the house to do deeper breathing and such.  Yep, the boy is SI-ICK.  Emphasis on "ick".  Fever, chills, body aches, followed by a nasty wet cough.  Gross.  Given that I'm finally on my way out of the "I feel physically useless" realm, I certainly don't want to catch what he's got.  It's been a week full of veggies, garlic, Greens +, vitamins, live-culture yogurt, and anything else I can think of that will help to keep me from catching his nasty bug.  That, and harassing him to cover his mouth when he coughs.  A futile little fist in front of the face (the typical Belgian coughing gesture, shown below,) does crap-all to block flying germs.
(Notice how the illustrator here has shown the grossness of the cough flying right past the futile little fist.)

I like to think of the "futile fist" as a piece of theatre performed by people here so as to make it SEEM like they are covering their mouth, without actually having to make any genuine physical effort to stop the spread of germs.  Honestly this frustrates me to no end because why pretend you're being considerate of others when you are not?  It's to the point really where when I'm sitting across from someone on the bus and they do this (coughing all over me,) I'm tempted to grab their arm and make their futile little fist useful by punching them in their own mouth with it!  Seriously, people of Belgium: you need to master the sleeve-sneeze/cough, or at least really COVER your mouth and then go wash your hands after.  It's a matter of general respect for others, public hygiene, and just ... common sense!  Nobody else wants to share in your disease!

Maybe they'll finally learn when something like SARS comes to visit them.  It seemed to smarten people in Toronto up rather quickly:

Just so everyone can benefit from knowing what a "sleeve-sneeze" is.  Think about it... this area of the body doesn't (after you sneeze on it) touch door-handles, rub itchy eyes, or do anything else really that could pass your germs easily on to someone else.  The "sleeve-sneeze" is SO much better than the "futile fist", in my opinion.

And now that I'm done ranting, the bit about candy.  I have a marble slab, it's heavy (as marble slabs tend to be,) but I'm alllmooost at the point in my recovery where I can lift it and get it ready for some quality candy-making.  Just in time, really, considering Xmas is coming!  As soon as I can move it into place, I'll be starting off with some brittles, toffees and other hard candies. (It makes sense to start with these, as they have a long shelf life when stored in dry, airtight containers.)  I've got a few new recipes I'll be trying out, so I can't wait!  Expect candyporn in the nearish future.


Bart said...

Unless you are coughing into somebody's direction, would really matter that much which cough gesture you make?
And the sleeve sneeze looks quite gross to me actually, if some spit or slime gets on your sleeve you have to carry it around for the rest of the day, instead of just washing it of your hands.
PS: Yes, I admit, I am a fist cougher :P

Jessica said...

Appropriate to this, I highly recommend going here:
and watching the full 5 minute video "why don't we do it in our sleeves?"

It's hilarious. But at the same time it follows the logic and information put out by every health department and centre for disease control in the Western world.

More directly: the problem with the futile-fist gesture is that it isn't even a REAL covering of the mouth by the hands, (which is shown in this video as 'the last resort' sort of mouth-cover one should make when coughing or sneezing.) Have you ever seen photos or illustrations of droplet trajectories from a cough? They move at 160 km/h (100mph) and the trajectory is a rapid dispersion one, not a straight line. Meaning even if you turn your head, or block some of the particles with a 'futile fist' most of them still go flying off in other directions, and here's how that plays out:

"What happens to these droplets depends on their size," said fluid dynamicist Bakhtier Farouk of Drexel University in Philadelphia. He is working on software that models how microscopic droplets move around a room.

Most of the larger, heavier drops fall quickly to the floor under the influence of gravity. The smaller and lighter particles (those that are five microns or less across) are less affected by gravity and can stay airborne almost indefinitely as they are caught up in and dispersed by the room's airflow.

Movements in a room can cause the heavier droplets to become airborne again after they have fallen to the ground or another surface. Making a hospital bed can kick up viruses on the covers. Opening a door can dramatically alter the airflow in the room and pull up viruses on the floor. Even walking through a room can spread droplets in a person's wake."

So gross, and such a good reason to catch those droplets in a tissue or in your sleeve!

Lastly... pretty much EVERY time someone on the bus here in my corner of Belgium coughs, they never turn their head... which means that yes, they are coughing on me or whoever else is directly in front of them/around them.