Why I Wear a Mask

When Bryan was fitted with the transfer set as part of the peritoneal dialysis process, we would both wear a blue mask and wash our hands (I sang happy birthday twice – every time) before attempting to clean the transfer set and/or open it for the dialysis bag hookup and detachment. We did this EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Why? It wasn’t to protect me. It was to protect Bryan. That transfer set was a direct line to the inside of his body and the masks kept most of the microorganisms from entering into his stomach and creating a toxic environment.

Later, when he was in ICU, he developed E. coli in his lungs. That meant everyone who came into the room had to don a clean mask and gown first. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I slept on a cot in his room. In my mask and gown. Why did we wear the mask and gown? To protect Bryan. To try and keep as many microorganisms from entering his body. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE of us wore the hot and uncomfortable mask and gown because we loved Bryan. The thought that he would die from a thing because we didn’t want to do something uncomfortable was so horrifying that we didn’t hesitate to throw it on before going into the room.

Did wearing the mask do its job 100% of the time? It did its job WELL ENOUGH to where NOT ONCE did Bryan ever get an infection through his transfer set. He and I were rather proud of that accomplishment. It did its job WELL ENOUGH to where Bryan didn’t get more infection (at least from us) in his body while in ICU. Was it 99% effective? 80%? 70%? Who knows? We didn’t really care what the percentage was. What we did know is the mask did its job WELL ENOUGH to keep the germs at bay.

In order to completely protect someone from COVID-19, you would have to wear a mask and gown everywhere. You would have to wear a new one each time you went out into public. We would all look like blue Smurfs. Better yet, you would probably be more effective if you wore the N95 mask. Even then, it’s not a 100% guarantee.

But you know what?

I wear a mask over my mouth and nose to protect other people. It’s a pain. The mask sometimes stinks. Sometimes I have a hard time breathing in the thing myself. I get acne from it. It’s hot. But it does the job WELL ENOUGH to help someone else not get infected.

I wear a mask because even if it’s only 50% effective, maybe with social distancing, it can be just a little more effective. And those one or two extra percentage points may be JUST ENOUGH to keep me from inadvertently transmitting COVID-19 to someone who might be among the small percentage of folks who could die from it.

I wear a mask because every single person I can protect from myself is a possible Bryan – someone with a compromised immune system, someone who could possibly die from a virus that only gives someone else a mild fever. How could I possibly refuse to do this one little thing for just a little while that might help so many others?

Please wear the mask.

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