Please Protect Me
Author: Sheri Denkensohn-Trott
It is not a cliche to say that we are all in this together when it comes to keeping safe, healthy, and strong during this pandemic. We are lucky to have family, friends, and even strangers offering to help us by going to get what we need from the grocery store, medical supply offices, and other areas that have goods that we need.
I have not gone outside since the pandemic began. I made two quick visits for a needed x-ray, but other than that homebound. Because I am a high risk as a quadriplegic with a trach, my husband has not gone out either. We take seriously that we must be safe and to keep me healthy he has been an amazing guy.
What infuriates me are the people out and about without masks and/or in large groups. This is unacceptable and non-compliant. I’m sorry if you feel inconvenienced, I am sympathetic to the fact that you are lonely and want to be with your friends, but I’m surely not in agreement with your failure to wear a mask.
But take one second and think about how you would feel if you were me. I can’t go out until it is safe. What does that mean? If you wear a mask, it protects others if you are currently infected and don’t know it. If I wear a mask, technically I’m not protecting myself, but protecting others from my saliva or a sneeze. I have a tracheostomy that is closed and I and cannot move my arms to take a mask on and off. To cover up appropriately, I must wrap a thick scarf around my trach, and a mask over my nose and my mouth. To do it tightly without air is dangerous. I need to be able to get enough oxygen, otherwise carbon monoxide will build up and I can potentially pass out. So realistically, unless we break this curve of infection, I truly need to remain inside until there is testing for everyone and a vaccine. Nobody knows when that will be, and if it occurs whether it will be 100% effective. However, despite the implementation of testing anyone with signs of the virus and/or development of a vaccine, non-compliance now will make the virus spread faster and continue making our community unsafe. That translates to me and my husband not being able to go out.
My good friends understand, and when they bring necessities, they mask up and appropriately distance. But when I look out my window and see throngs of people gathering closely without masks or hear about groups of teenagers/young adults near the local eateries, my blood boils.
My message is clear. Sacrifice a little bit. It isn’t that hard. Show some compassionate grit by thinking of others. Put yourself in another person’s shoes and do the right thing. If I can do it for as many months as it takes, you can certainly take precautions and follow best practices. I’ve been through a lot of health scares in my life, but they were uncontrollable. Much of this virus is beyond our collective control and in the hands of scientists. But at a bottom-line community level, the data shows that wearing a mask and social distancing is the best way to combat this horrific disease. For me, it is a matter of life or death. Think about that. And protect me and others like me.