I’m the CIO (Chief Isolation Officer) in My Family


There are very few things I’m good at. I can carry a tune and if I’m on your bar trivia team, we have a decent shot at winning. That’s mostly it. I can’t cook and I’m disorganized (my diagnosed OCD manifests itself in germaphobia, anxiety, and intruding thoughts, not meticulousness with arranging my personal space). I love seeing all my mom friends implement routine activities and homeschooling, but I’m just winging it.

However, when it came to preparedness and what to do/not do in this time of social distancing, I feel like I hit my stride. 


Around late February, articles were suggesting stocking up on two weeks’ worth of food and necessities. While the virus had not officially “arrived” in Ohio, it was definitely mainstream news at that point. I had a gut instinct that something big was on the way.

I devoted a morning to getting things we would need. This was “pre-toilet paper shortage,” but those shelves were meagerly stocked. The hand sanitizer was already gone at this point, but in this one situation, I have my diagnosed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to thank, as I have had a hand sanitizer pump at every sink (next to the regular hand soap) for the past 11 years in my home. Same thing with disinfecting wipes, a tub underneath every sink in the house. For the food and supplies we didn’t have, I didn’t need to look up a list of things we would need, I just knew. I made sure not to hoard but purchased enough to keep my family covered.

For years, friends and family have made light of my eccentricity when it came to avoiding germs. I have had family roll their eyes when I asked them to take their shoes off in my home. Make audible sighs when I make my son wash his hands twice in a 30-minute period (once after playing outdoors and again before eating). Well, now everyone is doing that. I never dreamed (nor wanted, obviously) a pandemic to validate my behavior.

I’ve dubbed myself the CIO (Chief Isolation Officer) in my family. My husband defers to me on most of the new processes for our family. I never thought I’d live to see the day when that would happen. 

“Let me handle it!” I bellow as a package arrives on our doorstep. While I have always been the primary errand-runner, I’m now the only one because I don’t need to refer to the step-by-step safety and sanitizing instructions. I know them by heart. 

I cannot wait until this is over. I don’t want to be disinfecting packages and groceries for the rest of my life. I want to see my family and friends and go to ALL the public places (just have to make sure we wash our hands before, after, and perhaps during). I do hope this experience helps us become more mindful of spreading illness. I also hope it de-stigmatizes those of us who are super conscious of decreasing the number of germs in their environment. And I sure as heck hope us, our children, and our grandchildren never have to live through something like this again. 


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