Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

A Misguided Protest, Also Misdirected

The majority of my posts, are usually off the cuff. When I reveal feelings, they raw and unedited. I do not have any problem being that open when I write. But occasionally, there are times, when I need to let “fireworks” exploding through my mind settle before I hit “publish.” Today’s post is one of those I was better of waiting to press the “publish” button.

In full disclosure, I have always disliked wearing seatbelts. I had only been driving for approximately five years when Pennsylvania joined other states, in making seatbelts mandatory in 1987. In 2008, following my heart surgery, my refusal to wear a seatbelt became more steadfast, even though it was the law, for one simple reason. My breast bone had been broken to access my heart, and the incision itself was very tender. The seatbelt rubbing against my chest hurt, A LOT!, but even more of a concern, in the event of an impact, a jolt forward against the seatbelt, I felt would snap my breastbone in half, something I never wanted to feel.

While I have gotten better at dealing with my rebellion, not so much in the beginning. My first traffic stop for it, was in Manhattan, and cost me nearly $300, just for the seatbelt violation. I did not care. I was not going to wear it. Other traffic stops, not in NYC, cops were a bit more sympathetic to my issue, as I explained in the same way to the NYC cop, and let me off with warnings.

Here is the thing. Do you understand why we are required to wear the seatbelt? I was given one reason by an officer, that it improves our driving, by making us more aware of our safety and our driving. I call bull on that one. I still have all of my other driving habits in tact. But the other reason, and repeated by the other officers, made me aware of something I had not considered.

A seatbelt will keep the driver or passengers secured in the vehicle, preventing an ejection from the car, and possibly a certain death. How many police officers do you think have had that experience? Worse, have you ever had this experience?

I cannot imagine what it is like, for an officer to have to be the one, to notify a family member, that a loved one had been killed in a car accident, and simply because they were thrown from their car, when a seatbelt might just have made a difference.

Oddly, even though I can recognize this “other side,” I still have the resistance to wanting to wear the seatbelt, and for additional reasoning. I will admit, it is not logical thinking, as at least my chest area made sense. But the bottom line, the officer made it clear, the seatbelt is not just about me, but how it affects others.

So, what had me so pissed off yesterday that I risked writing an “F-bomb” laden post? It could not have been about seatbelts, could it? Actually, while not about seatbelts, what happened yesterday, is totally relatable. And before I get into that, I want to preface the rest of this post, my commentary IS NOT POLITICAL nor is it meant to change anyone’s opinion. But rather, to produce an awareness that what we are going through today, really is more than just about us, but those around us.

I have been undergoing cardiac rehab for several months now, at a hospital facility. As any patient going through this, during Covid19 times, we are more than aware of the risks of being there and exposure. But I am also super appreciative of the efforts to keep me, and all of the other patients safe as we recover. At least most of us. One individual clearly does not. And yesterday, when I saw it, I was pissed off.

Again, this is not about Covid19, testing, vaccines, or even masks. And while I fully support the right to protest, ANYTHING!, when I saw what his mask actually said, I thought, “you are fucking disrespectful ingrate.” His mask reads, “worn by FORCE”, with “force” spelled out using the American flag, followed by “not by fear.”

Back in the beginning of the pandemic, I often said, those who were opposed to the recommendations or requirements of masks, this would be a perfect opportunity to post your opinions or whatever on the mask itself. What better way to let people know your position. And while I get that this jackass definitely is anti mask, that is not my issue.

Think back to the discussions I had with cops about why I wear a seatbelt. My opposition to wearing a seatbelt had the potential to affect others. And at least seatbelts are not contagious. As the title implies, his protest is misguided and misdirected. I do not have a problem with him wanting to state his opposition, and I do not care why. What I do care about, is those that are affected by this mask.

First, the misguided issue. His “worn by force” claim, using the American flag. The United States has nothing to do with him having to wear a mask during cardiac rehab or anywhere on hospital grounds. It is the policy of the hospital, to keep patients and staff as safe as possible, regardless if we have governor that appears to be pro-Covid in governing. But the second half of the protest, “not by fear,” again is a false trope. Those who do not fight the recommendations to wear a mask, are not living by fear. We are living smart, for ourselves, and others. Need proof?

As I began this course of rehab, just prior to the Omicron surge, one of the nurses said to me just a few weeks ago, “this is just so heartbreaking. We were done with this. The numbers had all gone down.” She of course was making reference to how Delta, the prior variant, had caused so much death and heartbreak, and finally the numbers began to look like we were finally getting through this. But then, the intro to our class given every morning went from “anyone exposed to or have a fever, cough, cold, or Covid?” to then include, “we really mean it now,” making reference to the wildfire spread of the Omicron variant.

I have spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals during this pandemic. I have personally seen all the efforts taken by the hospitals to keep everyone safe. I have heard of fellow Hodgkin’s survivors having procedures delayed not just because of lack of a hospital bed, but lack of staff to care for the patients. I have had conversations with nurses of all years of experience from decades to just out of nursing school, having experienced the worse their careers could ever have faced.

To say I was furious yesterday was an understatement. I am also really surprised my vital signs did not show my ire. But here was this moron, wearing a mask, protesting that he had to wear it inside the hospital, all the while, staff were following his sweaty ass from machine to machine, disinfecting it for him before the next patient used it, just as every machine was cleaned before he used it. And every member of the staff there, from nurse to therapist, was there at their own risk of exposure to Covid, including potentially from him, and he was going to gripe about it. His mask may as well have read “nurses are stupid.”

Look I said it, and I meant it, my issue is not that he is anti mask, anti mandate, anti whatever. And I support anyone’s right to protest. But in just the last week alone, stupid and insensitive decisions like this, have an impact on everyone else around. Look at the London bound flight from Miami, turned around and aborted the flight, an hour and a half into it, just because some stupid fought the flight attendants on wearing her mask, something she agreed to do when she bought her tickets. Or this one, a Virginia woman who was just arrested for threating a Virginia school board, that she would show up with guns if her kids were forced to wear a mask in school.

After two years of dealing with this, you either have common sense, or you do not. You either agree to mitigation and prevention or you do not. Not many at this point are going to be influenced to see the reason we are still dealing with Covid after all this time. We definitely know what works, and what does not work.

And what this patient is saying with his mask, has nothing to do with the false trope of “patriotism”, as much as he is flipping his middle finger at the staff trying to help him recover. And before you say, well, “well, what if that is the only mask he has?” There are plenty of disposable masks at the entrance to the facility. He could grab one on his way in. Like I said, protest all you want. I support that. But to do so in spite of those trying to help you, at their own risk? You’re an asshole. There is a huge difference between not wearing a seatbelt, not contagious, and fighting mitigation and prevention of something contagious. But with both, your actions have an impact on others.

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