The Mask

Wow, ever since COVID-19 hit last year, and became a worldwide pandemic, our new normal is mask up!

Everywhere you go, you must wear a mask. Often when sitting in my vehicle, I see a person about to enter an establishment only to do an about face back to their car to retrieve their mask. The new mandated rule is hard to get use to, but it’s our new normal and very necessary to keep everyone safe.

Wearing a mask in my case has been very challenging. Because of my disability, I have involuntary muscles movements in my face and for this reason, I’ve been having a time keeping it over my mouth. This is not the only time I have had this problem. Whenever I am trying to take a picture, my muscles start dancing as they do when I’m trying to talk with a mask on. Luckily, I’ve taught myself how to manage controlling my muscles in-order to take a good or at least, a decent picture over the years.

Another obstacle with this mask thing, people can’t seem to understand me when I have one on because of my speech impairment. I do rely on people reading my lips to help understand what I am saying. Now, that my mouth is covered up, it causes a bigger barrier.  People just can’t understand what I am saying.

For these reasons I’m glad I was given the choice to work from home. Although I work with an amazing group of people, who are very helpful, I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable including myself.

I’ve tried several masks to help me conquer this problem. I’ve purchased gaiters, see-through, surgical, bedazzled, and even a hijab. I know the on-line stores love me because I’ve purchased many masks in the past months, yet none of them seem to be solving my problem completely.

Being independent means a great deal to me. I value anything I can do for myself big or small. Since COVID, my ability to move about independently has been halted because of the mask mandate rule. Now a days, I always need someone with me to either assist with putting on a mask or pulling one up. To makes matters worse, I hear the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are suggesting people wear two masks now. I’m having trouble just wearing one!

Although I’m frustrated with my mask issue, I’m not going to stop wearing them. They are keeping me, as well as others, safe. I know I’m probably not the only one with a disability dealing with this issue that’s why I wanted to share this topic. I’m hoping people will share recommendations of good durable mask options or tricks to make them stay up.

Masking up is part of our new normal and I don’t see it going away any time soon. I just want to make sure that this “new” normal doesn’t mess with the things I’ve learned. I have managed to make it over huge hurdles to create a life of independence for myself.

I will continue masking up and hopefully one day they will be accessible to accommodate my needs even if I have to create my own.

17 comments on “The Mask

  1. Christine K. on

    Hi Shari, I am so glad you are enlightening the public on the hidden barriers to mask wearing. I feel for you because I have been struggling too with mask wearing due to a dental problem. There are so many unknown problems people may be dealing with during this pandemic, and it helps to bring light to these issues. Thank you!

  2. shelly hulce on

    I am always inspired, and educated, when you share your world. I am offended by people who do not care about the safety of others. They can’t handle the inconvenience, not even in the face of life and death. Now with the mask fatigue and the appearance that things are loosening up, service workers and restaurant staffs have been the target of a lot of anger and even violence as they try to maintain the mandated rules to protect themselves and keep their businesses going. They are literally fighting for their lives and their livelihood. I am going to share your story so that others can have a deeper perspective and new appreciation for how “easy” this thing can be for them. I appreciate how you power through life, Shari. We need more realness being spoken out here.

  3. Margie Wehner on

    I hate wearing the darn things, too. I don’t like anything on my face. l’m working with kids and they really struggle to keep their masks on—good fit and comfort are both problems for them. The designs keep improving, so I hope someone invents safe, comfortable masks for all populations. Even though we hate wearing them, we have to model safe behavior and show that we care about others by making that small sacrifice.

  4. Monae Dawson on

    Shari I appreciate you sharing your story. There are many who have had to alter their entire lives around these masks. For me personally, this material has become apart of my face. If I step outside and feel the breeze, I’m literally reaching for my mask (never thought this would be our reality). It’s like when I forget my earrings which I wear everyday, my ears feel so naked. I’d say the most challenging areas in wearing the masks would be in my breathing, only having usage of one and a half of my nostrils on most days. The other is when I’m coaching English class for ESOL. Trying to communicate with the Non-English population though I enjoy it, is a job within itself, and then to breathe restricted while talking and ensuring the class understands me through the masks….let’s just say I’ve seen easier days lol. The strength I hold on to is in knowing I’m alive and therefore have an opportunity to improve my situation and eliminate my barriers. All in All we’re Blessed;)

  5. Sean Xavier Fobbs on

    I am also inspired by your resolve to be compliant with the wearing of your mask in spite of the challenges. I am hearing impaired and as soon as I learned how to read lips the coronavirus changed all that. I struggle to communicate now that we must wear these mask. I also understand that this is necessary to keep myself and others safe. Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. Linda Pelfrey on

    Shari, this is a wonderful piece. You honestly share the challenges experienced. At the same time, you are doing all you can to keep yourself and others safe. I have to wear my mask all day, and talk on the phone. I am adding this skill to my resume. lol Thank you for your real talk, Shari.

  7. Jerome Haney on

    Shari how well I know of the difficulty. I was wearing mask year around, long before the pandemic. I have seasonal allergies, and this was a remedy, along with OTC meds. A friend recently asked me, “Rome, How long had you been wearing these, with everyone looking at you curiously, and now we all have to wear them/” I responded, “imagine that.” I have only once forgot to wear one and I was in a convivence store. They laugh with me as I explained, I had forgot was sorry. It pays to have those who work on the front lines to know us, they can laugh and/or cry with us. I do believe that one day we will see how “this to shall pass.”

  8. Debbie Pack on

    Dear Shari, Thanks so much for sharing your struggles which open our eyes to those of others. You have such a great way of awakening us to your needs in a very special way. I sure understand about lip reading. I have had a hearing loss since I was very small, but did well with reading lips. Now I wear aides full time but still depend on lip reading more than I knew, until covid hit. Take care and greatly appreciate your writing about your life💞


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