I have gladly worn a mask during this pandemic. Why? For one thing, I have a wife with Type I diabetes that she has lived with since she was about 4 years old. Her immune system is not the best. The last challenge she needed was for me to bring home the virus to her. She is also an insulin pump user and has been since the early 1990s. The insulin pump really improved the quality of her life as well as given her a chance for a long life. Several years ago the Joslin Clinic in Boston reported that there were only about 700 Type I diabetics in the country still alive that had lived with Type I diabetes as long as Susan has. Medical science continues to make advancements in the treatment of diabetes. We are forever grateful for the science and the care.
I have my own health care challenges and I have been going weekly to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover since last October. I have poor circulation and it causes me to get these huge wounds on my legs that get deep and refuse to heal. I have spent a couple of weeks in intensive care before due to infections that get into my blood stream (sepsis). Sometimes, I get very sick as you might imagine. I am currently on my third round of antibiotics right now trying to fight off infections in my legs.
So, the medical community has worked hard to keep both my wife and myself alive over the years. We appreciate the care we have received and trust the medical community to take the best care of us possible.
Now, my memory is not as good as it used to be, but here are some things I remember from the last year and this pandemic:
- I remember when our hospitals were overflowing with covid patients, there were no beds in ICUs or even in the hallways for many of the covid patients
- I remember when our hospitals were putting up tents and finding any space they could to take care of the exploding number of covid patients
- I remember when the deaths were over 2,000 a day and sometimes over 3,000 of us that were dying from covid
- I remember doctors and nurses working without breaks for day after day, just beyond exhaustion, crying and pleading with us to wear masks and take the virus seriously
- I remember hospitals having to bring in refrigerated trucks to store the bodies of the covid dead piling up
- I remember morgues and funeral homes not able to handle any more funerals or burials
- I remember seeing covid patients in the last few moments suffering a horrible death and still pleading with us to take precautions and protect ourselves from the disease
- I remember families that could not say, “Goodbye” to their loved ones and having to watch as a loved one died alone
All of this is so fresh and recent. Yes, wearing a mask is inconvenient, but for all the reasons I have listed and more, it is a small price to pay to help keep us, our loved ones, and our families safe.
Some think the wearing of a mask is of no value and protects against nothing. I would say, think about all the doctors and nurses that cared for covid patients. They wore masks. If they didn’t most of them would be gone too. We know how deadly the disease is – that is no secret.
So, no, the wearing of masks is not part of some larger political agenda anymore than it was during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1920. We are all part of a community, some large, some small, but still part of a community of mankind. To quote John Donne,
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the Sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a Promontory were, as well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” (I took the liberty to modernize some of John Donne’s language.)
I will continue to trust the medical and science communities that are working so hard to protect and save us from this deadly pandemic nightmare. I believe in them and their unselfish intentions and I thank every one of them for all they have done to get us through this nightmare.
I wear a mask gladly. I do not see the wearing of a mask as some taking of my personal liberty. I see it as the small way I can help my community and all of us to stay safe.