Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Therapy and Your Purse

A purse is more than just a fashion accessory when you are a speech pathologist... it's a chew toy, a hiding spot and even a germ magnet.  

Let me tell you about the adventures I have had with my purse. In doing so, I want to share 3 important lessons I've learned about therapy and purses. I'll start at the top...

#1:  Don't take your eyes off your purse

One afternoon, I was working with a preschooler at a nearby daycare. As we were playing, I  glanced up to see that she was wearing my sunglasses. She saw them in my purse and helped herself. "Awww, how cute!" 

She laughed and smiled, and so did I, until...snap! She broke the left arm off my sunglasses when she tried to put them on top of her enormous head. Oh, brother!

On another visit with the very same little girl, she spotted my car keys. They hang on the outside of the purse so they're easy for me to find. She took them off then latched them back, took them off and latched them back. 

"What a fun game! You're very good at that! Now, let's get back to work."

When our time was up, I gathered my things, dropped her off at her classroom and made my way to the parking lot. I quickly realized...I've lost my keys.  It took nearly 20 minutes to find those darn car keys...the little girl had put them in her pocket. Ugh!  

A few months later, I was doing a home health visit with an adult patient. She had a  cute, fluffy little dog that was prancing around, in and out of the room, carrying along a variety of dog toys. "What an adorable dog. She really loves to play!"

Well, this precious little fluff ball turned vicious when it came time for me to leave. She was jumping on me and barking like crazy. Come to find out, she dropped her tennis ball in my purse when no one was looking, and she was in attack mode because I was about to leave with it.

Lesson finally learned: don't take your eyes off your purse. 

#2:  Don't put your purse on the floor

Nothing good happens when you put your purse on the floor... believe me, I know!

Once, an eager little puppy chewed the strap off my leather purse while it was sitting on the floor. That's right, as I was busy guiding practice through oral motor exercises, that puppy was chomping on my purse. 

The purse sat in my closet, out of order, for nearly three years before I decided to have it repaired. 

On another occasion,  I went to see a patient for a dysphagia therapy session. His hospital bed was in the living room of the tiny home and two big dogs sat alongside. With very little space, I put my purse on the floor where I stood and got busy. The wife commented, "The dogs are very protective of my husband. They never leave his side."

When it was time to go, I reached down to gather my things.  My purse was sitting right in the middle of a yellow puddle. Yup, that's right, the dog had peed all over my new purse. That was so disgusting, the purse has never been used again.

My occupational therapy friend, Teri, once told me a story about putting her purse on the floor. While she was working, roaches crawled into her purse. Gross! But that wasn't the biggest problem. The real fiasco began when the roaches crawled out of her purse into the front seat of her car as she was driving. Wow! 

I was glad to know that I am not the only one with a purse story, and again, I finally learned:  don't put your purse on the floor.

#3:  Purses are dirty

A recent study by Initial Hygiene has revealed that women's handbags are contaminated with more bacteria than the average toilet. Yuck!  

In fact, tests showed that one in five handbag handles contains enough bacteria to actually make you sick. 

Because purses come into regular contact with our hands and a variety of surfaces, the risk of transferring different germs onto them is very high, especially since bags are rarely cleaned. 

Tests conducted by the research group revealed that leather handbags are the most bacteria-riddled of all purses as the spongy texture provides the perfect surface for bacteria to grow and spread. The research also revealed that the dirtiest items in the average purse are bottles of hand cream,  tubes of lipstick and mascara. 

Experts suggest that women regularly clean their hands and their handbags with antibacterial wipes or gel to prevent cross-contamination. I suggest you never again use a purse that a dog has peed on.

Do you have a funny purse story? I would love to hear it. In the meantime, keep your eyes on that dirty purse of yours and, by all means, keep it off the floor.