From the outset of the coronavirus in the United States in early 2020, I was cautious about adhering to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for Americans’ response to it. I felt the threat was real and was determined that I would do all I could to avoid being infected.
Among all the other precautions that I took, I wore facemasks as religiously as anyone. Some I bought. Some I sewed. Some had elastic ear-loops. Some had long fabric straps. Yet, I contracted COVID-19 accompanied by its classic symptoms. Cough for several days. Low grade fever. Early on, some gastric distress. Some wheezing. Extreme fatigue. And complete loss of the sense of smell. Fortunately I did, however, manage to avoid hospitalization and serious complications.
I have had time in the ensuing days to rethink my response to a question I heard voiced by some proponents of wearing a facial covering over the mouth and nose, namely, “What’s the big deal? Why can’t everyone just wear a mask?” Maybe it does sound like a simple, straight forward request.
Actually, even though I agree that wearing a mask can help curb the spread of this highly contagious disease, perhaps it is time for us to admit that it is a big deal to a lot of people. And for a number of reasons.
For those who wear hearing aids, as I do, straps around the ears increase the chance of losing the device. When I stepped out of a doctor’s office after having worn a blue and white disposable paper mask with elastic ear straps for the very first time, I instinctively began to pull off the straps as I headed toward my car. Out popped one of my hearing aids onto the concrete pavement. Fortunately, a person in the nail salon in the suite adjacent to my doctor’s saw that I had obviously lost something and came out to help. She spotted my missing treasure. And if you know the retail price of hearing aids, you understand that I do mean treasure!
What about individuals who wear glasses? Are face masks a big deal for them? Absolutely. Personally I primarily need my glasses when I read. Thus if I’m going into my neighborhood pharmacy and want to be able to read the labels, I need glasses along with the required mask. I have yet to find the perfect solution for preventing my glasses from fogging up when so paired. For those who need vision correction by wearing glasses all the time and are under school/work restrictions of keeping the mouth and nose covered for the greater part of the day, glasses worn with a mask can be a challenge.
One last group of persons I’ll mention who are suffering greatly from the mask mandate are the deaf. Imagine that you use American (or other nationality) Sign Language as your primary means of communication but still want to be able to interact with hearing friends. You depend greatly upon lip reading and picking up facial cues. Neither is possible when your friends’ faces are covered.
So, I’ve changed my view a bit when I hear someone complain about mask-wearing compliance and she or he says, “Why can’t everyone just wear a mask? What’s the big deal?” My answer now is, “It is a big deal and it requires some sacrifice. But it’s something we need to do, at least for the present time, to help protect ourselves as well as others.”
Reflections on Wearing a Mask
Connie Carlisle Polley, 2020
7 thoughts on “Wearing a Mask IS a Big Deal!”
So sorry To hear you caught that ugly coronavirus, Connie. Hope you continue to do well!
Thank you. I am doing well now.
What puzzles me most is how a mask can stop a microscopic virus(!?!)
Here is my understanding of what the medical community has said. The virus can be in the invisible droplet spray that comes from the mouth in coughing, sneezing, loud speaking, shouting, and singing. It can travel from a person who is in the active stage of the disease or from a carrier who is asymptomatic. The mask keeps the droplets from going as far as they would from a person not wearing a mask. It is just like when the urge to sneeze comes upon you and you don’t have time to contain it in a tissue or the sleeve at the inside of your elbow.
That is a perspective on the current situation that I had not heard put forth by anyone. I too have been wearing a mask since the onset, and encourage (or require in the case of my kids) others to do so as well. However I am not in agreement with government mandates. Your perspective is balanced that fits well with my own thoughts.
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I hope the ideas I expressed in the blog might help bring about less animosity between compliant mask-wearers and and those who feel like their rights are being trampled upon.
You are so right! I have both glasses and hearing aids I do not put my hearing aids on anymore when I go to drs and shopping. They are too expensive.