Disclaimer: This post isn’t about the efficacy of masks during the pandemic, and I fully understand that not everyone is able, or required, to wear a mask. Its just some thoughts I had about the experience of wearing a mask.
I remember last year I had a bout of asthma. I have been lucky since becoming an adult, as this condition had pretty much settled down, and was kept under control. I still can’t engage in heaps of vigorous physical activity without getting ‘wheezy’, but I can jog, I can climb mountains, and I can engage in Nerf battle with my family; so I have the essentials covered.
But every now and then, it flares up. Nothing major, no attacks that send me to the hospital like when I was a kid. But still enough to knock me out of work, and rob me of a night’s sleep here and there.
It is a feeling that I am still used to; struggling to breath, building up the energy to get up and source my medication. It sucks, but things could be much worse.
You take the time, fight through the breathlessness, find your inhaler, take a few doses, and then sit back waiting for it to take effect. Then you get the glorious feeling of your breath coming back to you. Each breath becomes deeper. The panic leaves your body, and you calm down. After a few minutes, you realise that being able to take deep breaths feels amazing. It’s something that I think those not afflicted with asthma don’t truly appreciate.
Breathing is actually an enjoyable sensation, but as we do it all the time, you lose sight of that. Like chewing gum that has lost its flavour, or the lumpy wallet you no longer feel in your back pocket; it’s always there, you just forget about it.
So when I hear all these people complaining about wearing facemasks because it makes it harder to breath, I can’t help but roll my eyes.
I don’t know about all you able-lunged people, but yes when I wear a mask for an extended period of time I do start feeling somewhat short of breath (perhaps exacerbated by the fact that I breathe shallower in a vain attempt to stop my glasses from fogging up). But trust me, it pales in comparison to what asthmatics have to put up with, and I don’t even want to think about those suffering from coronavirus.
What’s more, I still get that exhilarating feeling when I take off the mask, and take those first deep breaths. It makes me feel good, it reminds me of how things could be much worse. Hell I even get to feel that smug feeling of ‘doing my bit’, and making a small (very small) sacrifice for the greater good.
(Don’t blame me; it’s how evolution wired our brain).
So next time you are out there in the world, masked up and getting on with life, remember to make a note for when you take off that mask. Take the time to really be in the moment, take off your mask, breath long, and breath deep. Be in the moment and enjoy it. Think about how that little sacrifice can give you a window into what other people are experiencing, and be grateful that the majority of us in society are doing the right thing, and that with any luck this is the worst impact your breathing will have during this pandemic.