I never expected that wearing masks while I traveled would be my trendsetting mark on the world. I never expected the world to join me in wearing masks during cold and flu season. In 2020, COVID-19 changed all that, and I became a trendsetter.
For a decade now, I have carried medical facial masks in my purse. I use them whenever I think I may be at risk of exposure to germs that my body may not be able to fight. I have been on Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Rituxan (rituximab), Cellcept (mycophenolate mofetil), and prednisone for eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis. All of these medications suppress and weaken my immune response and put me at greater risk of infections. A simple cold may be just an inconvenience for a non-chronically ill person, but the same simple cold could result in a hospital stay for me.
Before COVID-19, I avoided crowded indoor venues. I changed lines if a person at the grocery store was coughing in front of me. I am great at shopping at non-crowded times. I even try to vacation in the off-season to avoid crowds.
When I flew, I always wiped down my seat with antibacterial wipes and had a face mask handy. I would receive many questioning looks from fellow passengers. I wore my mask so I could fly and enjoy traveling while being severely immune-compromised. I didn’t care about the whispers around me, or that my fellow travelers wrongly presumed I wore a mask because I was contagious. I was happy to be traveling, so I ignored my fellow travelers’ whispers and looks.
The pandemic has changed the general public’s attitude about mask-wearing. People suddenly realized that wearing a mask could protect them from airborne germs and viruses. It’s no longer unusual to wear one. People everywhere are wearing masks to protect themselves and others. It’s sad that it took a pandemic for many to realize that masks can prevent the spread of germs, especially during cold and flu season.
I am hopeful that in the future, wearing a mask will not be seen as an oddity but as a way of protecting one’s self. When I feel it is safe to fly again, I will be happy if nobody gives me questioning looks or whispers behind my back as I wipe down my seat and wear my mask.
I’m glad that I am a mask trendsetter, and I will continue to wear my mask with pride.
Note: ANCA Vasculitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ANCA Vasculitis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ANCA vasculitis.
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