This weekend we went to Salmon Days, which is a street fair/festival here in Issaquah, WA with my celia-sissy, brother-in-law, and the nephews. Salmon Days basically a celebration of the salmon spawning (such a Washington festival). There is a lot of street/fair food around (so nothing that a celiac could eat) and a lot of booths of overpriced clothing, stone wear dishes, scrap metal for your yard, and (of course) local businesses giving away small branded items. Oh and salmon watching. You can watch salmon swim up a creek to die. I make that sound kind of depressing, but it’s a joyous event…really.
Anyway, after watching the fish struggle towards the inevitable death, it was nephew snack time, and they decided on that they wanted that iconic fair food, elephant ears. As we were walking away from the Issaquah fish hatchery, my 7 year old nephew lets go of his mommy’s hand saying “I’m going to eat gluten, so I’m going to have to change to daddy’s hand” and went to go stand by his father. My Cilia-sissy looked at me like her heart was going to melt from the cuteness of her son.
Preemptive hand changing might be a bit over cautious, no matter how cute it is, because even though he was aware of not holding mommy’s hand, right after eating his elephant ear, he wanted to see auntie’s phone. All of this brought up a discussion about hand sanitizer (the only way to clean our hands at the festival), using water from a water bottle, or just wiping your hands off. Of course, I only had my phone to research with me and that was being taken up with Pokemon Go.
But of course this got me thinking. How often are we more careful that we need to be? I know that I’m gluten paranoid, but only because every time I am not I get sick. So, how careful do we really need to be? Well, really careful. So, if take trip in the way back machine (all the way back to the beginning) my post of what to do right after your diagnosis. Remember that a crumb, just a crumb, can be enough to get a celiac ill. But, do you remember our cocoa powder experiment with the counters. Did you know that you can do that with your hands too!?
The results, well wiping your hands is not enough. Just look in between those fingers. Heck, even just a regular washing left some particles in between my knuckles. Scarey. You have to go the full “happy birthday” level wash to make sure that everything is clean. The scariest part is what I found in this 2007 study. John Hopkins studied peanut particles in schools and hand washing/cleaning. The hand washing study found that particles of peanuts were still found on half of the hands of their subjects after their using hand sanitizer.
There is differences between peanuts and wheat or gluten. Peanuts have oil, and oil can stay around on hands a lot longer than a dry particle like wheat. This can make it was easy to spread, but, almost, harder to wash off. That doesn’t mean that the same principles don’t apply. If you think about it, logically, the way that hand sanitizers (supposedly) work is the act of rubbing helps to kill the germs. Of course the FDA says that even that isn’t true, so lets just move past that. You put a liquid on your hands, rub them around, and then the alcohol evaporates off and leaves your hands feeling clean. But there is nothing that will be getting the peanut oil or wheat off of your hands. There’s just no transfer of the substance to another object. So it just wouldn’t work, there’s no way it could.
Lets get back to my little hand washing experiment. My hands of coated with cocoa power. Truth, unless you’re dipping your hands in batter or flour, you’re never going to need to worry about more than a crumb or two. So you might not have to worry about washing your hands as well as a doctor. Does it mean that you shouldn’t be vigilant, no. Do you have to be that vigilant, probably not. Just like you’re not getting sick from doorknobs or escalators. You just get used to not touching your mouth and washing your hands before all meals.
So, how careful do you have to be? To be safe, more than anyone else. You’ll find your level that probably just a hair on this side of crazy, but until the FDA approved one of those gluten pills, I’m just going to stay there to be safe.
Also, this is officially half way through all of our topics. Just getting over the hump!