Many fear this is our future:
Never greeting each other with a warm handshake.
Giving a hug to someone in need.
Holding the hand of those dying, sick, depressed, or heart broken.
For me it’s changed how I see patients:
Not allowing groups of family and friends to come into the exam room.
Seeing just patients, not their children. Often a highlight to my day- the smiles and giggles of those little ones delighted at the smallest thing.
Now we’re forced to stay feet apart, faces and hands covered with nothing but our eyes to generate compassion, understanding, hope and kindness.
Is telemedicine our future?
Never to actually touch a patient, hear their breath, heartbeat. . .
To never check a weight, height or blood pressure, which are all integral to overall health and wellness.
I walk into a room and 3/4 of our faces are hidden.
I’ve noticed its impact.
We’re scared, overwhelmed, worried and feeling alone.
Masks intensify those emotions.
I know it feels like forever, as if it’ll never change.
But it will.
We’ve all heard the claim that testing is irrelevant. That argument was proven wrong when President Trump’s valet was infected- the man providing him food, clothes, and interacting the President regularly.
Vice President Pence’s press secretary and the first lady’s personal secretary all tested positive.
“Yesterday they were negative, today they are not. So what’s the point?”
The point? They caught the very moment that changed and impacted those lives and the lives around them.
They are able to test daily.
They are able to get the results immediately.
They are able to quarantine those involved and track their contacts.
They are able to crack down and ensure that they
Test, test, test, test. . .
Quarantine, quarantine, quarantine, quarantine. . .
Contact source, contact source, contact source. . .
Test, test,test, test. . .
Piercing the White House’s inner sanctum led to mandates on masks and social distancing within those walls.
This virus is everywhere.
As we have now proved.
If the White House staff, closet to the highest offices in the land are infected, then so can anyone else’s home.
The virus doesn’t care about power, money, politics, or gender. And although the elderly and poor are worse off because they are more vulnerable, this virus is opportunistic, it’ll infect anyone it can get to.
No one wants to interact from behind a mask.
Until we have a better solution we wear them to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our co- workers, our country. But, by doing so we also lose a much needed connection to each other.
Our facial features show compassion, caring, thoughtfulness, and humor. Not just the eyes. They may be the window to our souls, but a smile that reaches our eyes says it all – welcome, happiness, love.
Now when a smile does extend to the eyes, we’ll never know it.
When biting our lip out of fear or concern we’ll never see it.
When distracted and anxious we may miss it.
Masks do more than protect others from our secretions, they keep us separated from the warmth and comfort our faces can provide. Social distancing isn’t just in feet but in the barriers our masks encourage.
My head understands it’s a necessary evil to save lives, my heart knows it can’t last for too long before it fosters isolation and separation at a time when we desperately need neither. Without our faces to impart our identity, thoughts and intent, we’ll be less able to read situations and circumstances.
Trust, honor, veracity, gentleness, goodness all flow across our faces in seconds. Those moments can tell us so much. We truly are impacted by first impressions, even if we’re not sure why. But masks will blunt that inner voice and make judgement calls harder, if not impossible.
In that light, some incredible people are changing what these masks represent. No longer just a covering, but a fashion statement. One that allows the owner to shine through. For many it’s become a blank canvas, letting our individuality loose. For others their humanity, when so desperately needed, is shown in pictures displayed on their protective clothing. No longer a faceless, scary creature, but a warm, caring human being behind the protection.
Masks are a necessary part of life.
They do not show weakness, they show strength, and the willingness to honor all lives and their right to survive.
In the absence of appropriate tests, masks, social distancing, disinfecting surfaces, washing our hands and not touching our faces will get everyone safely through to the other side.
But we don’t have to let them make us faceless zombies. They don’t have to mask who we present to the world.
Whether you decorate it yourself, turn a favorite team bandanna into a shield, paint on outstretched wings or have your children color disposable ones, let your fashionista go wild. For now, let it speak volumes about who we are as a nation and our love for humanity.
For now, let them portray who we really are.