A while back, I mentioned to a patient that I like chocolate chip cookies. For the next several days I was brought some cookies wrapped in a napkin; apparently they had been saved from lunch or from the snack tray that is brought around.
I am very picky about the foods I eat at work. If it is not wrapped and store-bought or if someone else has touched it with their bare hands, I will not eat it. The holiday season gets me apprehensive when I approach patients because they always try to "push" sweets on me. The fudge is always being forced on me in almost every room. I cringe when I am offered any homemade, fresh-from-the-oven baked goods. My first thought is, "Whose hands have touched this?" and my stomach begins to tighten. ( I only mention holiday season because it will soon be July 25 and that is a celebratory day in my home. We bake cookies, frost them and act goofy).
Patients may not see the potential of an indirect transmission when they reach into an open box of popcorn, then offer it to us. I have seen some therapists and nurses reach right into the box and grab a handful though. I have also seen those same nurses and therapists sick after doing it.
I have made it a personal policy to politely decline any and all food offered to me in a patient's room. I will indulge in the chocolate candies from that famous candy store as long as I witness the box-opening ceremony. If the box is at the nurses' station and opened, I will not even think about reaching into it. There are way too many people who reach into the box, pick up a piece of candy and then put it back after smelling it. Yes, I have seen that happen and it made me sick. What was worse is that a nurse was the one who did it.
And even though I feel bad about discarding the cookies, I've learned to never mention what foods I really like in front of patients.