TODAY’S FORECAST: Stormy
In accordance with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s (CFF’s) recommended guidelines for the prevention of cross-infection between CF patients, all patients at our local CF center are asked to put on a mask as soon as they enter the office. Every time I go for an appointment, I reach for the box of yellow surgical masks at the desk, grab one and put it on. Having done this for almost two decades now, I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s as much a part of my routine as tying my shoes or brushing my teeth.
Especially during cold and flu season, whenever I have to go to another part of the hospital, I keep my mask on too, to avoid getting new germs or spreading my bugs to someone else. Today, after my appointment, I needed to stop down at the lab to get some blood drawn. There were several other people in the lobby waiting to be checked in for testing, so I added my name to the list and had a seat. As I was sitting there waiting, a little girl, about 4 or 5, was sitting there with her mom, observing me closely. After several loud whispers and a couple of pointed fingers, I heard her say, “Mommy, why does that lady have a mask on when it’s not even Trick-or-Treat yet?”
I had to laugh. Her mom, on the other hand, was not laughing. She slunk down an inch or two in her chair, turned about five shades of red and apologized profusely. After telling her that it was perfectly fine and that I totally understood the curiosity having two kids of my own, she began to visibly relax.
I said to the little girl, “This is my special mask. It helps me not to get sick and it helps the other people here not to get sick either when I cough.” She took a few steps toward me, so I proceeded, “What should we do when we cough or sneeze?”
“Cover up” she said, using the appropriate elbow across the mouth.
“What a smart girl you are,”I said, smiling at her, then at her mom, then realizing that neither of them could see me smiling because my mouth was covered by the mask.
“Do you have a nose under there?”
Her mom and I both laughed at that. “Yep,” I said, lifting my mask to show her my mouth and nose, “I have a nose and a mouth just like you do.”
She giggled at that.
After that her name was called and her mom took her back into the lab. She smiled back at me and mouthed the words, “THANK YOU.”
After I finished getting my blood drawn I was walking down to the parking lot and saw the little girl and her mom again. When she turned around, the little girl had a pediatric mask on, one that the lab ladies undoubtedly got great pleasure from giving to her before she left.
The little girl looked at me and said, “Look, I got a ‘cover up’ just like you!”
I told her, “That’s good, you take care of it okay?” Her mom smiled at me and thanked me again.
She said, “You realize I am never going to get this thing off of her today, she’s already talking about wearing it for Halloween.”
I said, “See, I could have saved you a lot of money if you had only known. She could have been your little masked crusader.”