Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Under the mask

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Ali Bohn, The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper

I am not a doctor. I have absolutely no medical qualifications, I have never attended a medical seminar, and I am not a politician, nor do I follow any political forums or news reports; I am just your average Jo (or Joe, depending on which side of the fence you wish to put me) who I believe has a pretty good understanding of common sense.

I must warn you before I go any further that I am about to mention the ‘C’ word, so for those who are sick of hearing about Covid-19, please turn the page, otherwise stay with me on this one.

Now over two years into the pandemic, I have only just become fed up with the darned thing in its entirety. I have not vented to anyone regarding my thoughts, I have gone about my life in a Covid-19 world, I have followed medical guidelines, I have sanitised and masked up, I have immunised and I have checked in and out.

I have practiced social distancing and been Covid-19 positive twice, both times isolating for the required 7-day period. I think we can all agree that this bug is here to stay, at least for a fair bit longer, yes?

While I am thankful the mask mandate has been removed unless entering a medical clinic/facility or aged care home, there is something that I cannot get my head around and it has me fuming, because I cannot see the logic in it.

If I am entering an aged care facility (in Victoria) as an authorised person, I am not permitted to go any further than the front door without a negative RAT result. I am literally required to take the test then and there so that the procedure can be cited by medical staff. No problem. So, I am negative.

Next, I am required to wear a full plastic gown, gloves, Donald Duck face mask, welding mask style face shield, and sanitise. By now, all that is visible are my eyes and shoes.

Now permitted to enter the facility, I am taken through the isolated wing of the facility where my loved one is seated, crying, because they are lonely and scared. So, what is my first reaction going to be? To comfort them with a nice big cuddle.

The only problem is that I am covered in cold crinkly plastic, and two face masks that I cannot breathe through causing my voice to come across a little like Darth Vader. (I’m not exaggerating.)

So, as I attempt to wrap my arms around my loved one and stop the crying, the cries become almost on the verge of hysteria because, to them, I look like a bloody alien.

My loved one has dementia and they have no bloody idea who I am at the best of times, but add this freak show costume and it’s an impossible situation. But I am Covid-19 negative, so why am I wearing all the paraphernalia?

I have sanitised. I am not allowed out of or to take my loved one out of their room for fear of spreading what I do not have! The best thing I can do to stop the crying is removing the props so my loved one can see my face and hear my voice. She might not know my name, but she knows she loves me, and she knows I am her comfort. She needs me.

I leave in tears as I cannot bear for her to see how much it upsets me seeing her so frightened when I cannot comfort her in the way she needs. Yes, it’s great being able to see her in person, but she is my family and she should have the right to see me, she is not in prison.

Oh, and something else to consider. I am told that the cost of wearing the protective gear each time you visit a health facility, is approximately $11. Keep in mind that prior to putting on the two masks and the gown, they have tested negative to Covid-19.

I can’t help scratching my head about this one and wonder how many lots of those $11 would have been better spent on resources such as cancer research, dementia research, funding for lifesaving drugs, etc. And don’t get me started on the wastage, where do all of these disposable masks and gowns go?

My questions to anyone who is reading this are where has common sense gone? Have I missed something? Will we ever get back to normality and live rather than exist?

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 11 August 2022

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 11 August 2022.

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