By Dr Fionnuala Ní Ghrainne
I AM going to have a little rant. I had to take my car for its NCT recently. Now you all know how small the office there is, and there are seats for only three. As I was waiting outside, one of the seats came free, so I sat inside on it. The three of us had masks on and one gentleman came in without his mask on. Actually he was wearing it under his chin! I pointed out his mistake and he very pleasantly acknowledged his mistake and with a smile put it back up.
Then another gentleman came into the office with his mask under his nose. Again I pointed out his mistake. At this stage I did say to the other ladies sitting with me that I was a doctor and I had an issue with wrongly worn masks. This other gentleman refused to put the mask over his nose, saying he could not breathe properly with it over his nose.
Now I have asthma, not severe, thankfully, and I appreciate that wearing a mask can be difficult and make you feel like you cannot breathe. I certainly notice it when I walk up two very long flights of stairs in the morning with my mask on! However, I do it to protect others I meet on the stairs and to protect myself, my staff, my family and my patients.
I am not really sure what the medical evidence is in relation to wearing masks and having an underlying respiratory condition. I appreciate it can be difficult. But my own take on it is if you cannot wear a mask properly, then you put yourself and everyone else in close contact with you at risk. Therefore, you should not be in an enclosed space and you should ask someone else to do that errand. This sounds really uncaring, but I do not intend it to.
I would like to bring to people’s attention that you can buy silicone masks to wear under ordinary masks. They act as a bridge to prevent the mask from falling in on your face and making it uncomfortable to breathe. They are a really good idea and anyone who does feel smothered by their mask should try one.
I am finding in my own practice that I need to see more and more patients face to face; patients who have not been seen now in six months and patients presenting with symptoms they have been hoping would go away. This naturally increases their risk and mine, but that is what has to be done. The more we comply with public health guidelines, the safer this is for everyone and the quicker we can get back to normal practices.
There are risks we just have to take, but there are still too many situations that I come across every day where people’s behaviour is risky, and there is no need for it. Christmas is coming. Let’s double our efforts at complying with public health guidelines, get the numbers down and allow small gatherings over the holiday periods if it is possible
I do not want to sound uncaring, but we all have a responsibility to one another to keep safe. Do NOT be afraid to pull people up who do not comply with public health guidelines. They are putting you and your loved ones at risk.
Let’s stand up and take responsibility for our own actions and try and get this pandemic in our country under control again. We all need to play our part.
End of rant. Take care and stay safe everyone.