Ignoring That Instinct

I consider myself a helpful person, and I love my job working with children and families. I also have bills to pay, and when I saw a family hiring for a sitter after school two evenings per week, I jumped on that and contacted the family. She had heard of me through word of mouth, and we met for an interview. We decided to do a trial run for two weeks to see if everything worked out.

And something told me it wasn't the right situation for me. But I ignored my instinct and greed took over. I just had to be their sitter. I had to do it. I had to. I had to. I had to do it.

But it was a mistake. And what happened sounds gross, but it taught me a lesson.

While babysitting for this family one evening, their son wanted to play with the neighbor kid. Being the person that I am, I won't let a child I am caring for play with a child without meeting the parents first. Call me crazy or paranoid, but that's me. So I went over and introduced myself to the family. The mother wasn't really friendly, and the father was surprised that I took the time to meet with him. As I was talking with the parent, I picked up and played with their puppy who was rolling around in the grass. About a week or so later, I started noticing black dander in my cat's fur (I have four cats) that was similar to coffee grounds. Thinking nothing of it, I kept brushing her to see if things changed. I dismissed it as something different, until last week when I found something I didn't want to see.

My cat had a flea on her. A live flea. I was so grossed out that I almost threw up twice in Walmart when I went to get flea spray and garbage bags. I had a case of anxiety so bad that I had a horrible stomachache, called into to work the next day and thought I was going to throw up. How could I let this happen? The last time I dealt with this issue was back in 1994, when I was a young adult and got a cat that had fleas. Here we are twenty-two years and cats later. Never gave my cats flea preventive. Yeah, I know, bad cat mom. I never let my cats outside and never came into contact with anyone with fleas. When I found out about this, I bagged every single stuffed animal, every pillow on my bed, and threw out clothing that was on my floor, along with old clothing and items that the cats (I have four, but only three would be in my room sleeping, etc) came into contact with. Everything was washed, including curtains, big blankets, etc. per the vet. and all four cats, including my sick 12 year old with a tumor in her eye got flea treatment. I had watched my girls itch and groom themselves, which indicated I had a problem.

Not sure how I got them, but the vet did say fleas can travel with people. The only animals I have been around recently are the new kitten (I checked her before she came home and didn't find anything) my cousin's dogs who go to the dog park several times per week, her cats which are outside cats.

And this family's neighbors.

I broke down into tears in front of my boss, and told her why I called in. She was very understanding about the anxiety thing and stomachache. As I sprayed furniture and curtains, and combed through the cats fur to check for flea dirt, eggs and fleas, I began to realize something.

I honestly believe had I not babysat for this family, I wouldn't have had contact with the neighbors. No contact with neighbors, no contact with dog.

No fleas.

As a result of this issue with fleas, I am panicking that there are more fleas in this house, and we haven't gotten rid of them yet, despite cleaning. I do not allow the cats in my room or to cuddle with me. They just exist-I feed them and acknowledge them. but that's it. It's like I have OCD and anxiety. As if anything on the carpet or floor will come into contact with fleas. When the cats itch, I panic. Sitting on the couch or chair (the cats sleep here. as it's a cat thing) will bring more fleas that have yet to go through the cycle, even though I sprayed.

I feel dirty. Gross. Contaminated. I also feel like a bad person, because I had to babysit for this family. I felt like it wasn't right for me, and but being the person I am, I wanted to help them because I love what I do. Had I not babysat for this family, I wouldn't have gotten fleas.

Through this experience, I've learned it's ok to be helpful, but you can't help everyone. If something feels like the wrong fit, it's fine. The wrong fit for me is the right fit for someone else.


Jess said... the OP completely crazy? No offense meant, but this is a way, way overblown overreaction.
First of all, fleas are not leprosy. Yes, they are a menace, but an anxiety attack, throwing up, calling sick, and then quitting your job over it? Wtf?
Second of all, once you treat the fleas on your cats, and give them a preventative, you don't have to go crazy on every possible possession you have than a flea could have sat on. Fleas than infest cat and dogs, cannot survive for long without animal blood, and your is unsuitable for them. So, seriously, 10-15 days on preventative, and you are done.
Puppies and dogs often have fleas, they could have gotten them at the shelter, at the breeder, or even from a tumble in the grass. You should have told the neighbours to check if their puppy has fleas, and then simply not play with it.
I also don't understand, what do you mean by instinct - your instinct was telling you not to take the job because their neighbours had a puppy who possibly had feas? Wtf?

Taleia said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who though this was totally batcrap crazy!!! :D There sure have been a lot of nuts on ISYN lately!

Corina Yildiz said...

LOL! Too funny!

Anonymous said...

Err, since when taking a job and getting paid for it makes you a 'helpful person'? It makes you an employee. If you didn't need that job, you shouldn't have taken it, there was somebody else who genuinely wanted/needed it. You didn't do that family any favors.
I also agree with Jess regarding the 'instinct'...what the poster is describing is more like premonition, than instinct. Jeesh.

Anonymous said...

Wait. What does this have to do with NANNYING??? Why is this person a psycho? Sorry, that's name-calling. Why is this person writing in to this site and why was this posted??? Her cat POSSIBLY got fleas from a puppy she touched (highly unlikely though). So she called in sick (if I was the MB I would not have been understanding at all) and then quit? Sounds professional to me.

Anonymous said...

And PS, what instinct was she ignoring? It wasn't the job that was a problem, it was the puppy next door. Did she meet that puppy at the interview and THEN her instincts kicked in? This is a really dumb post. Really scraping the bottom of the barrel, eh?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be rude but I would not want this person watching my children. And she wouldn't anyway because we had a huge flea problem this summer (but we all survived!)

Miss Dani The Nanny said...

Intetesting post. OP may sound a little off topic, but I think the intent of the topic was to listen to your inner voice if a position isn't the right fit to avoid regret later.

Anonymous said...

Fleas are an annoying inconvenience, and if totally neglected long term--yeah that could lead to bigger problems BUT cmon. I think you are anxious and maybe like you wrote- suffer from OCD, and perhaps that should be addressed with a therapist/mental health counselor.

Vacuuming and laundry take care of most of the furniture issue (I suppose bagging the rest but I haven't hear that recommended for fleas. Lice yes..) and one effective vet prescription dose (don't buy most of the stuff that's offered over the counter, they aren't effective) will take care of much of it. If the cats are crawling with fleas, there is a one time pill you can give them that will kill all fleas and worms (yes, they can get gut worms from having fleas. From what I see what is written on your post I imagine you having the freakout of the century over this. DON'T. Like fleas, VERY treatable.

I had a cat that would escape (she was fast and tricky) when I was coming in and out of my apartment and then she would carry back fleas (and I found out later...worms, which come from licking flea eggs off of fur) to my two others. I had to keep her on the stronger rx anti-flea treatment as a preventative, and the two needed. Now that one of my other kitties-my youngest who now my old and single kitty...she never goes out, and I haven't had to deal with any fleas. It's still possible though. I might carry one in on my pant leg someday, and this could start again ....and I'll deal with it.

I have sympathy and empathy for anxiety issues...please address them. However, part of being a pet owner is being prepared to deal with things that pets can get and fleas are quite common, and quite treatable. They will be fine, and so will you.

In the meantime here's your Deal With it List:
1) get prescription back of the neck drops recommended by your vet
2) if heavily infested, perhaps the flea/worm pill which will kill everything on the cat within 24 hours additionally. But the drops alone work too (some are just fleas, some also can treat possible tapeworms)
3)Comb all of them daily with a fine toothed flea comb. Keep a tray of water and dunk the flea/egg refuse into it as it drowns it.
4)For you sick kitty--if she is too compromised or you don't feel comfortable with the chemicals on the back of the neck rx and/or the pill, just comb her thoroughly, at least twice a day with the water tray. If all the other cats and environment are being treated, she will get to the point where they will disappear. It just takes persistence and patience.
5)vacuum daily. Twice even. remove/dump the bags. If you vacumm a little dichotomous earth sprinkled down that will help kill the fleas in the bag in the meantime.
6)Wash pillows and blankets frequently, and if it makes you feel better, sure..limit where they go in the house, but please give them affection. Just change and wash your clothes (or bag for later if not convenient) if you're concerned.
6)find a way to get over the physical nausea with the fleas. Again-this is the common cold of pet issues, and it's going to be easier treating your pets (especially the sick may have to actually pick up some of those stubborn critter out of her fur if they evade the comb. I have, and I survived. Or hire/bribe someone to do it for you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous poster from directly above with the list--
I see that OP has done some of these things-not sure if cats got the hardcore flea stuff-but know if you're on top of all this it will go away. If they continue to itch, also know that some cats have an extra sensitivity to fleas and get rashes that continue for a while. There are steroid creams for this.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but this has NOTHING to do with the position. At. All. Did her inner voice know about the fleas on the neighbor's dog?

Anonymous said...

Good list. But even this is for an outbreak of fleas. Which takes a while. We had a kitten who came to us with fleas. We bathed her and treated her. End of story. Did it bother me? Absolutely. Was it a big deal? Not at all.