Back to the Mask

It’s been a good summer. It’s been relatively care free. Work has been good, only a few COVID patients here and there, nothing like last November.

The tides are turning. The anticipation is setting back in. The numbers are climbing back up. I remember watching the tragedy of what was happening in Italy last April and then New York, Los Angeles. Then closer to home, then Waterloo, and then Sioux Falls, and then it finally hit and it hit HARD. That same anxious anticipation is rising up again. Visitors are restricted again at my hospital, memories of patients dying holding a nurse, a strangers hand come back all too clear. Every reimplemented restriction, every reimplemented policy brings back memories of late last fall, what we thought were the darkest days of the pandemic.

I’m afraid to admit. I’m afraid the darkest days are yet to come. Not only will the patients who will be admitted to our ICU be towing the line between life and death, they will have landed there by their own choice. To be clear, I’m not FOR mandating vaccinations. I do believe that everyone should be able to choose for themselves. However, that choice can and likely will come with a consequence.

I don’t claim to be a medical expert by any means, but the data and information being shared by healthcare providers from these hot spots around the country are awfully reminiscent of last Fall. Like this inforgraphic from Baton Rouge General Medical Center:

Like this post from Cedric “Jamie” Rutland MD:

Or this video from the medical director at another Baton Rouge Hospital:

Or the fact that my very own vaccinated brother is battling COVID and pneumonia going on 6 days now and is miserable. I’ve spent the morning contemplating, if I wake up with COVID symptoms today, who will I have exposed yesterday? Vaccinated or unvaccinated? As Cedric stated, this Delta variant is so much more contagious and carries such a high viral load than what we were facing last year.

Translated: The sick will get much sicker.

I can’t carry that on my conscience. I need to go about my life knowing that I’m not potentially spreading this to those who have chosen to not be vaccinated. Especially when the intervention to prevent these hospitalizations, deaths, and spread is as simple as a mask.

As for me and my house, we will be returning to masking. You can stare at us or laugh at us. That’s totally cool with me. You can call be a sheep and tell me I live in fear. That’s partially true, I do live in fear. I live in fear of unintentionally harming my neighbor or community. I live in fear because I know how fragile America’s medical systems are right now. I’m afraid for you, not for me. We are running on fumes and that becomes even more apparent in nursing forums and groups where this particular post is going “viral”:

In conclusion, I strongly encourage you to consider getting vaccinated if you haven’t and I encourage you to reevaluate your own personal choice to return to masking. These thoughts are my own and do not reflect my employers beliefs or values.

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  1. Toni Wood
    August 8, 2021 / 2:52 pm

    Our entire family has been vaccinated with the exception of my 57 yo daughter! She and her BF don’t believe in it. They live in AL which is one of the most unvaccinated states and her own daughter is a nurse on a Covid ward! What did I not do right as a parent?

  2. Elle
    August 8, 2021 / 3:36 pm

    Thank you for educating and thank you for serving. I pray for your safety and that of your family and that your brother pulls out of this quickly!

  3. August 8, 2021 / 5:09 pm

    Thank you for all you do! My whole household is vaccinated and I am wearing a mask when out shopping. I don’t go out much other than that (except walks in the neighborhood!). Kids are being sent to school with masks knowing they are fully vaccinated and it is not mandated them to wear it (Florida, where it is more important for some to make it political rather than the health crisis it is.) Wishing you keep that helping spirit and keep helping all those who come under your care.

  4. August 8, 2021 / 5:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing this information, Kalissa. I hope your brother gets better soon and that you and rest of your family stay healthy.

  5. Carolyn
    August 8, 2021 / 9:25 pm

    We attended a small wedding on Friday and we were one of the few that were wearing masks although the mother of the bride assured me that only 3 of the 50 people were unvaccinated (and one was pregnant and now nursing so was waiting to get hers when it is safe)…. but I also attended my brother’s funeral yesterday and about 80% wore their masks at the church and at the reception afterwards. What was interesting was that all wearing masks were vaccinated and my sister I kept asking those with no masks if they had been jabbed and they said no. I agree it is personal choice but I do think that those that choose to not get vaccinated should be very cautious and wear a mask to protect others. We are still being so cautious and careful. Why would anyone want to take a chance and infect someone else?
    I feel so bad for all the medical staff at every level. How horrible to be the one to be dealing with bad decisions that other people make? I totally agree with your post and the chart was a good way to show the evidence of why should get the vaccine.

  6. Katherine Gourley
    August 8, 2021 / 11:36 pm

    My husband is vaccinated and oh how I wish I could be. It is NOT a choice for everypne. I have a very rare immune disease in my lungs and I am on a MAB once a month at an infusion center. Just the cost of the drug is $9,000.00 a month not including the nursing fee and infusion center fee. It keeps me alive. Not a single individual can give me assurance that a vaccine would not make my illness worse. I am a BS RN and have an additional 26 years of education and experience in pharmaceutical development. I fully know what can happen with vaccines and that is the reason they generally take 8 to 11 years to get approval. NO ONE on any MAB was allowed to participate in the COVID trials and no scientist can know what the short terrm or long term effects will be. As a nurse are you going on PubMed and staying on top of all the studies that are being done by respected scientists with MDs and PhDs in the fields of infectious diseases, virology, vaccinology and immunology. Many unvaccinated people are in the same situation as I am and I find it blatantly wrong to say patients are ending up in the hospitals by their own choice. I do not have a choice and your words are very hurtful to an entire segment of the population. So many people are pontificating that are not educated to understand drug development.

    • thepinkshoelaces
      August 9, 2021 / 1:26 am

      I’m so sorry if my words were hurtful, thank you for bringing this point of view to my attention. It was rather ableist of me to lump the unvaccinated into those who chose not to be vaccinated, for that I’m sorry, I’ll be making corrections on my post to reflect this.

      • Katherine Gourley
        August 9, 2021 / 6:45 pm

        I just love you and your Mom and your family. I was heartbroken when your Dad died and since I am far from where you live, I could only donate to the expenses you were incurring. I was an RN-OCN and felt what you were going through. I thank you so much for your reply. There are many of us who cannot be vaccinated and are either not out in public or we are social distancing. When I see people wearing masks that have obviously not been washed, I actually cringe. I also worry about asthmatic kids wearing masks. There have been reports of these kids with CO2 levels 25 times higher than is safe by Federal standards and potentially provoking asthma attacks.. We are in a catch 22 with all of this. The media behaves as though anyone without a vaccine is doing it deliberately, which as not true. Also, since the vaccines are not yet FDA approved this scares people. Many black Americans do not have short memories about the Tuskegee Experiment, which was one of the most famous government long running unethical studies in United States history. There were many ethical violations during this study that spanned an entire 40 years and it prompted so many changes to clinical studies now, which cannot be overstated. Although a necessity to get viable COVID vaccines very quickly, by today’s regulations. many nonstandard research procedures were used. The executives of those companies all became billionaires. Much of the safety data are not readily available to the public at this time. A number of my former Researcher colleagues believe they are being under reported. They functioned outside of the Nurse Practice Acts to get them administered. Many who were not qualified by education or experience to administer a deep deltoid IM were administering at the huge vaccination centers.. My friend, a retired nurse turned down a veterinary technician who was administering injections at a vaccine center near us. She demanded a RN not an LPN or other individual administer her injections. She waited an extra 40 minutes to get her injection as a result, which kind of says people without credentials were administering them.. It makes me cringe. If I ever get to be vaccinated, I will insist an MD, DO or RN to inject me. We need to see both short term and long term safety data for individuals on MABs. It just is not out there yet. Again thank you for your kind understanding.

  7. Sherry+Whalen
    August 9, 2021 / 1:23 am

    Thank you for your service Kalissa! You gave several examples of excellent reasons for vaccines and masks. We have been vaccinated since early March and decided to start masking again while going out to shop etc. Dr. Rutland gave a wonderful explanation about viral load and why vaccinated could get infected and how masks can help, I read it to my husband. I sure hope your brother will be doing better soon.

  8. Mary Etherington
    August 9, 2021 / 4:31 pm

    Oh, Kalissa, I am so sorry for you, for Karl, for all of us who are worried. I’ve been vaccinated since last February and have quit wearing my mask but on your opinion I will start wearing one again. Thanks for educating us!

  9. Pal K
    August 9, 2021 / 4:41 pm

    Hang in there. Most of my family live in the Northeast where we got hit before most people had even heard of the novel coronavirus. and no one knew how to treat it. Go outside to a field somewhere safe and take a few deep breaths and take care of yourself.
    Why I wear a mask even though I am vaccinated:
    1. I believe in good parenting-you do not ask children (who cannot be vaccinated) to do something you are not willing to do. My kids are teenagers (vaccinated) and adults but I want to make it easier for other people to say to their children: If that lady over there can wear a mask, so can you” and not the less reasonable sounding: I don’t care if that lady isn’t wearing a mask, you have to.
    2. I can sew. I can make cute masks that coordinate with my outfit. I need to feel coordinated at least once a day and the mask may be my only shot.
    3. The people least likely to wear a mask are the people who are not vaccinated.
    4. It makes it easier for the hesitant to wear a mask and not feel like they stick out like a sore thumb (High School all over again-Cool kids wear masks)
    5 Social Contract: agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits;
    The United States was founded on social contract theory; the organized society is brought into being to secure mutual protection and welfare. Simply put: Wearing a mask is patriotic.
    and then all that medical stuff

  10. Colleen
    August 9, 2021 / 10:24 pm

    I am in the San Francisco Bay Area California USA our virus numbers are going up our hospitals are filling up and this is in a highly vaccinated area.
    I am old I was caring for my husband who was ill he died in June ….I have been wearing a mask ? in all indoor places and staying away from indoor places if I had to go inside I plan my dash (I am old I walk) get what I need and spend as little time as possible inside ❤️?? I hope your brother recovers completely and your family stays safe ❤️??

  11. Pam Beck
    August 10, 2021 / 2:02 am

    Hi, Kalissa. I just read this post for the first time reading your blog. I came here from your Mom’s post today. I’m so sorry you’re all dealing with this. I’m fully vaccinated but haven’t stopped wearing my mask at all. I work in the public sector and really believe it is still important to do so.

    Is there a way to sign up to get your posts in my email??? I looked at the sidebar and didn’t see a way to do it. Stay safe and stay strong. HUGS!!! Pam

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