Living with a person who is living with CIRS is a lot like what I imagine living amongst the Israelites just after they received all of the Torah (Law) from Moses was like. It’s all new, it’s all crazy, and it takes some getting used to. Oy vey! It is largely about doing your best to keep contaminants out of your environment be that the air you breath, where you eat lunch, how and where you get dressed (and undressed, not kidding), the list does go on. Honestly, I think I’d rather be Joshua than Jessica.
What is CIRS? Read part 1 of this series here. Update on the move. We moved out of the old house and into the new one on December 12th, all in one day. That process will probably be a post unto itself. We want to thank everyone for their support in praying for the sale of our old house. While we are extremely thankful to have moved, that step was, in reality, the first step up a mountain, not the first step into a place of rest.
Think of it like Lewis & Clark looking for the Northwest Passage. They had to cross the Rockies before eventually finding the Columbia River (of which we now have a view) and eventually reaching the Pacific Ocean. Except we knew the Rockies were there. The treatment for CIRS will probably be another post. Lots of typing to do! But now, on with the show.
Getting ready in the morning
Get up, get fully dressed, makeup (optional for some, you know who you are), make some coffee, pack some food, get in the car and head to work.
- Get partially dressed (probably) because there is an article of clothing you are going to wear again that you wore earlier this week (like jeans) out in the “air lock.” This means pajama pants or shorts around the house until you need to actually leave the house. It’s like a mullet but clothing instead of hair: business on the top half, party on the bottom half.
- No need for makeup anymore for Jess (I stopped wearing it a long time ago 🙂 ) because of the mask she has to wear whenever she is not in our house or not out in the open air. She has to wear it in her car, at her job, and anywhere else indoors that isn’t our house.
- Medication and supplements. Oh, the supplements. Oh, the $150 nose spray. Many of these have to time timed around food and drink.
- Coffee, always. You have to say “Always” like Snape does.
- If Jess wants to have a hot (warm) lunch, she has to either shove it into a thermos or put it in this lunch box that plugs in to the wall and keeps the food warm. This has nothing to do with CIRS, it has to do with the fact that her work doesn’t let anyone microwave anything because they don’t want the food smells in the clinic. CIRS comes into play in a minute. Why can’t she eat out for lunch? Because chances are restraints are also sources of CIRS cooties. (Disclaimer: we have and will eat out if we think the place is new enough or there is low risk of any serious water damage.)
- It’s time to leave. Into the Air Lock we go, also know as the garage. This is where we do our best to keep contaminants from the outside world out of our house. Shoes, belts, iPhone cases, jackets, clothing you can we are again but has already been out of the house, it all lives out here in some kind of container to keep it isolated.
- So, the shorts or pajama pants you’ve been wearing until now get taken off in the house and left in the house. Warm fuzzy socks? Those are off too. You are now in the garage, in your underwear, standing on cold concrete (because a mat/rug would just trap contaminants) finishing getting dressed.
- Jess puts her mask on, loads up the car, and heads out for her day. Same for me, just no mask. BTW, no purses, computer bags, or lunch bags come in the house either. Those all either stay in the garage or in the car.
You just go about your day, normally interacting with people, eating lunch in a break room or at your desk, drinking coffee, tea, whatever, pretty straightforward.
- As noted above, Jess has to wear a mask all the while she is at work. If she wants a break from the mask she has to go outside. It’s kind of like smoking in this regard, but instead of breathing cancer-causing crap, you just want air that isn’t saturated by you own humidity.
- Want a sip of your coffee/tea/water/liquid? Hold your breath, lift the mask, sip. A straw helps. Have you ever tried to take a drink without inhaling a breath of air first? It’s weird and difficult.
- Lunch time! Remember, she can’t take the mask of inside at work. In order to eat, one must take one’s mask off. That means you have to eat outside. In the rain and the cold (it’s December/January) not under any cover because there isn’t any where she works. No, you can’t eat in the car because that is also a contaminated environment because you carry stuff on you from wherever you just were.
- This makes me cry and it makes me angry; my wife, out in the cold and rain, trying to eat something warm as fast as possible so as to get back inside only to have to put her mask back on to dry off and warm up.
Coming Home to CIRS
You park you car, gather your stuff, go in the house, eat, watch TV, whatever.
- Pull into the garage, sort out what can and cannot be cleaned to come into the house.
- Take off all your clothes. Put your shoes in your shoe bin, dirty clothes in the dirty clothes bin, hang up what you might wear again later in the week in the zip-up closet thing.
- This bit you can do now or later. But your phone, coffee tumbler, lunch container, watch, iPad, all get spread down with either something called EC3, or a watered down ammonia solution. These sprays kill the cooties that have contaminated your personal items. Otherwise when you carry them into the house and set them on the counter, you have to now clean the counter and your stuff.
- Now that you are in your underwear you have to head to the bathroom and either take a full shower, or at the very least wash your hair and face and possibly your arms if they weren’t covered. CIRS cooties easily attach themselves to hair (including arm hair).
- Put on some comfy clothes and live in your bubble for the rest of the evening.
What if you need to run out of the house for something from the store or whatever?
You have to do the whole change of clothes routine. I keep a set of clothes in the garage for just such an event. But I do have to wash up again when I get back.
What about taking your dog places?
As soon as she gets in the car she is now contaminated. She would need a full bath with a special shampoo before going back in the house. As you may know we used to love taking our dogs to places. That has stopped.
What about people coming over?
Nope. Unless we already have a set of specially cleaned clothes of yours in a cleaned tub for you to change into in our garage, you cannot come in the house. I will save more on that for another post on our social lives.
What about mail and deliveries?
Neither mail nor packages come in the house. They must be opened outside of the house, unpackages, and then the contents can be sprayed down (if they need it) and then it can come in the house. This was super fun when Amazon was delivering all of the replacement stuff for our house. Nothing like piles of cardboard and styrofoam to make you look classy to your new neighbors.
But don’t take our word for it. Uh, wait.
Take our word for it. Here is a video version of the lady herself sharing what all this is like.
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Please do like and share this post and video on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter via @corbystephens. You can find Jess on Facebook and Instagram via @treeandleafwellness. Also check out Jess’s website for Tree & Leaf Wellness.
Please do comment on this post. If you have questions about CIRS, this process, if you are dealing with it yourself and need some encouragement (or care to offer some!), lets talk.