I've seen too many people faking various conditions to claim that they cannot wear face masks right now. Often, the claim is asthma and other breathing conditions. I figured it's time for people to hear from those who actually have these conditions. Not only are these people at a higher risk for serious complications after contracting COVID-19, but many of them also have been wearing face masks before this pandemic began. Take my mom, for example. As someone with damaged lungs, she has been using face masks for years. For those with compromised lungs, face masks protect from bad air-quality, dust, and other hazardous things that can be breathed in.
I figured hearing the facts from the source is the best way to hinder the spread of false information. I interviewed my mom about what life is really like for those with compromised lungs during this pandemic.
Let's introduce you to the readers. What they should know about you?
My name is Becky, I'm a mom of two college-aged daughters at Miami University, and my conditions have disabled me and rendered me unable to work as a lawyer. I developed most of these conditions as a consequence of smoking. I worked on a project with the CDC to create a commercial promoting reasons why others should stop smoking, called "Tips From Former Smokers". In creating it, I have hoped that I can influence others to stop smoking before their consequences become as dire as mine.
What conditions do you have?
Well, I have end-stage Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema (COPD) and asthma. Due to these conditions I have had respiratory failure twice, hypercapnia (high CO2), a collapsed lung, a thrombectomy, I'm on supplemental oxygen 24/7 and need a lung transplant.
Why do you wear a mask?
Because my transplant doctors tell me to. Also to protect others, just in case I've gotten COVID-19 and am contagious.
How has the pandemic affected your day-to-day life? What extra precautions are you taking?
I don't go nowhere for nothin' anymore. I've essentially become a shut-in! I went out for a check-up once and I've been to the hardware store once. Other than that, my daughter has gotten all the groceries and anything else we need. She wears her mask, too.
How does wearing a mask affect your day-to-day life?
It doesn't really affect me at all. Trying to keep my cannula, my glasses, my hair, and my mask loops behind my ears is a challenge, but it's doable. One of the ways I've adapted is by putting my hair in a bun when I go out (so that there's one less thing behind my ears).
How is your breathing affected when you wear a mask?
The mask I'm currently using is cotton and does not affect my breathing at all. However, when I wore the blue medical masks, I had a harder time breathing. My oxygen levels have always stayed the same for either mask type, though. It may feel like you're not getting any air, but really you are.
How would you explain the importance of a mask to anti-maskers?
Wearing a mask is something that is so insignificant compared to the possibility of saving the lives of your friends, family, and/or neighbors. I don't understand why people take the chance when the other possibility is so terrible. For example, you could claim that it is your right to choose to drink and drive. However, if you do drink and drive, there is a risk that you might kill others, so we put a law in place that says you cannot drive drunk. Now, if you are driving drunk, that doesn't mean you consciously want to kill someone, however, it is still a possible consequence. Similarly, not wearing a mask doesn't mean you want to kill someone, but still, it does mean you are risking the lives of others every time you do it.
What are you most worried about during this pandemic?
That a loved one will catch the virus and possibly die. I'm also worried about myself catching it because I know that if I get COVID-19, I'm dead.
How does it make you feel when friends and family don't wear masks or social distance?
Afraid. Though most of my friends and family members are careful about COVID-19, when some of them don't it makes me afraid for them, of them, and saddens me. It makes me feel like they don't care enough about me to help protect me. I miss my family and friends and if they don't take necessary precautions, who knows how long it will be until I can safely interact with them! Even you, Bobbie, we didn't see each other for 5 months straight due to the pandemic. And when we did, we socially distanced and wore our masks. I really miss hugs from you and all my other loved ones.
Many, like my mom, must be shut in from the outside world due to the pandemic. They want out, but need your help. Disabled people deserve the same rights to live as anyone else does. One way to ensure their right to live is to wear your mask. Yes, it's kind of annoying sometimes. Yes, it seems like you can't breathe sometimes when wearing it. However, as my mom and many scientists will explain, that is not the case.
Wearing a mask can save lives. They can save your life. They can save your neighbors' lives. Wearing a mask can save my mom's life and anyone like her.
Wear your mask, save lives.