I told you that I’ve had medical stuff on my mind lately. One of the reasons is that, among my collection of Adjunct Sisters (you didn’t know that was a Thing, did you? It is, and a very important one at that.), one member is battling a disease I’d never even heard of until her doctors diagnosed her: Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) or Devic’s Disease. Not funny, as you can tell if you look at the link. But the lady I know who is learning firsthand what that ugly condition is, she is funny. She’s fabulous in so many ways, and not least of them is her wildly adorable sense of humor, one of the many characteristics that has endeared her to our family since she joined the gang years ago as a friend and sometimes college-roommate of both of my younger sisters and laughed and loved her way into the whole family’s hearts.
So when I send her love and “advice,” since I am ill (no pun intended)-equipped to offer her anything of medical value, I try to give her, if not a belly laugh, at least a little smirk of silliness to help distract her way through the tough times. Today’s topic was medical masks and the myriad purposes they can serve. Perhaps those of you undergoing health challenges of your own can benefit from this utterly useless but well-meant meandering as well. And I do mean well. Forthwith! Here’s what I sent her today:
I think you know that Sister #3 is sharing your email updates with the other three of your sisters here, and I hope that you don’t mind terribly, because it’s so important for all of us to know what’s up with you and what we can be studying on your behalf and all of that. And of course, keeping you extra tightly in our arms, interwebbian though they may be. At least the latter makes us sound like friendly aliens, which of course is exactly what we are. You’ve known that all along.
Rituxan [the treatment proposed by her medical care team], as I understand it, is a chemotherapeutic drug. With that, I would guess it means that the intent is to kill off targeted invasive tissue, like those lesions of yours. I would also assume, especially with the liver toxicity warnings, that it means your immune system will be working extra-extra hard while you’re being treated, so I say, don’t be shy about watching out particularly vigilantly for your own health and protection during all of this time, whether it’s fending off a “mild” cold or dealing with any infusion side effects. Go ahead and take any old extreme prophylactic measure if your mood or the occasion warrants it.
Those who love you can and will support you in this adventure of yours if you let them learn how to be truly on your team by keeping them as informed as they can handle; I’m betting that those who do care about you deeply know or guess much more than they let on both that this is serious business and that it’s very stressful for you. No doubt everyone has frustrations and impatience that are surely exacerbated by seeing what stress you’re under. I can’t imagine there are too many parents, for example, no matter what the relationship with their kids, who don’t get a little extra crazy when they think their child is under attack and they can’t do that much about it.
As for protection, I can’t speak to the medicinal side of it, but I can offer my two (or two hundred) cents about some practical/tactical issues for protecting yourself from a few flying germs, and possibly, from a few unwanted attentions during the treatment and recovery process. Or how to get more attention, if that’s what you need.
In one word: masks. Medical masks aren’t as commonly used in the US as they maybe should be when what’s floating around us in our breathing air—whether of our making or someone else’s—poses a danger. Asia has been much more forward-thinking on this particular medical front, having had a couple of national crises with flus and other public health problems that resulted in some remarkably fashionable fashion shows, cultural events, and general public expressions of the usefulness of the mask.
A quick web search offers a wide range of options in this regard, and you may choose to consider using some of them either merely while hanging around in the clinic or hospital where you get your doses of Rituxan or as ways to visibly express your current state of being so you don’t have to make constant update reports to everybody when you’re already tired. If you want to go classic, there’s always the familiar rectangular style but with the slight upgrade of some dainty pastel colors for a little fashion flair. The shape and texture tell me that if you want to go classic but super cheap you could always find some vintage style maxi pads and tie them on around your head. This would, of course, have the bonus effect of startling others into leaving you alone.
For the classic style with, well, more style, you can find lots of fashion prints online, or you could do as has many a stylish stagecoach robber or gang member of yore, and use your standard medical mask with a bandanna or scarf artfully covering it. This could provide an added benefit in making the nice people at the admitting desk respect you more, and possibly feel compelled to offer you a sudden, steep discount on your treatment, although eventually this latter effect could be hard to defend in court if the security cameras in the facility happen to show you in a poor light.
Perhaps a more glamorous treatment of the above effect, and with good germ-averse coverage as well, this little combo can instantly turn you into the health-conscious chef/superspy you’ve always dreamt you could be.
While designed to wear one at a time, these babies have the obvious secondary option of being combined as a uniquely-you bra or swimsuit after you’ve recovered from your illness, and for those of the younger set, the advantage of those screw-top central covers for infant-nursing convenience. Or a hot new pole-dancing uniform, should that be preferred.
Sometimes just affecting a more cuddly mien (or meow) can help one to feel more cuddly. A touch of ‘kawaii,’ that delicate cuteness our Japanese friends treasure so deeply, could be just the solution. Hello Kitty is a good choice, although I personally would endorse the Hello Miss Kitty line in deference to my favorite writer-artist.
There are lots of other cute options out there if you like the idea of others comforting you with a gentle pat on the head or scratch behind the ears, or perhaps a handful of immunity-boosting kibble.
When you’re finding it hard to smile and put on a show of concern for your normal beauty regime, you can opt for the Marilyn look. Whether you choose Monroe or Manson is up to your taste and your mood, naturally.
Other expressions may be more appropriate for some occasions than others. I like the bronze hat with which this is shown, as you can use it to bonk people over the head smartly if they should refuse to respect your feelings with appropriate alacrity. An alternative version of the hat would of course be one like the legendary bowler sported by Oddjob, who knew how to handle disrespect very directly and succinctly as well.
For those who might prefer to project other ideas than mere germicidal ones, there are numerous elegant choices on the market. Or the black market, depending on how other those ideas may be. The shaven head is not only a good-looking addition to this particular mask format but also offers an excellent location for attaching a temporary thought balloon if you have something on your mind but aren’t sure just how to say it aloud.
Just want to embody a fierce opponent to your symptoms? Or to the nosy parkers who insist on offering medical advice like mine? A good wild beastie muzzle is sure to get you fired up and ready for battle.
And you should never underestimate the versatility and expressive power of a full face mask, if you want nothing more than to keep your real facial expressions to yourself, along with the veil of separation from the viral vicissitudes of the world. A traditional Plague Doctor mask can be ideal for some persons, but there are numerous other beautiful variants out there.
This one comes complete with eye patch in addition to the full-face coverage, a plus for optical injury and illness care, and remarkably self-explanatory facial presentation that says, “Yes, I’m feeling Fabulous, thank you, and I do so appreciate your contribution to the beauty of my day today!”
Well, that’s enough high-powered medical advice for today. If I can ever be of actual support, I hope you’ll let me know, but in the meantime, I wish you amazingly speedy and thorough healing, and lots of love and laughter along the way. All of you!