Why are we still masking?

Despite us being in peak respiratory virus season, with tons of the flu, colds, pneumonia, RSV and COVID flying around, there is still a vocal minority who are staunchly and ill-advised against masking for their own safety and the safety of those around them. 

Heart & Hands is one of the few remaining practices in town that is still mask-mandatory and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Why? Let’s put things in perspective…

I am a high functioning, immunocompromised individual, living with chronic illness.

I am a lupus survivor and have lived with this condition since childhood. My body is scarred by the medical treatment and multiple comorbidities that are part of living with lupus. I have taken immunosuppressant medications for most of my adult life, which on one hand, keeps the damaging autoimmune effects at bay, but leaves me vulnerable to a greater variety of infections and other complications than the “average” person. I have also recently recovered from a lupus flare and early stage kidney failure in the past 15 months. 

I thankfully have only contracted COVID once during this ongoing pandemic. I “recovered” but unfortunately, developed brand new neurological symptoms during my recovery and it took weeks to get my energy back. Based on the hundreds of clients who have contracted this virus, it will find your vulnerabilities and wreak havoc. Furthermore, despite having a “mild infection”, there is still the risk of developing chronic symptoms as well as long COVID. 

Due to my delicate health status, I have personally chosen to take all the logical precautions available to me including getting vaccinated as well as masking in indoor and/or crowded spaces. And guess what? Our community space is both an indoor and at times, a crowded space as well as being full of clients, some of whom are also, immunocompromised. I also take these precautions because I am a health care practitioner who looks after a high volume of clients (60-80 clients/week) every week. I take these necessary precautions out of consideration for both myself and for everyone who comes through our doors, our safety is important.

Chances are, someone you care about is immunocompromised. Folks who have asthma, diabetes, Crohn’s, MS, etc. and don’t forget, folks who are pregnant, very old or very young, especially newborns. Masking also reduces the risk of transmission, so you don’t take a virus home and risk infecting a loved one. 

The uncomfortable reality is that chronic illness and disability is something that can happen to ANYONE at ANY TIME. If you’ve never considered this, please unlearn your ableism. Furthermore, if you value your acu-naps, you should also value the health and safety of the practitioner providing your treatments. 

Since the start of this global pandemic, we have intentionally built-in masking as part of our operating model, simply because as Owner/Operator, I put myself at risk seeing a high volume of clients. But more importantly as a community-focused practice, we view masking as both a form of community care and harm reduction

We choose to prioritize the safety of our medically vulnerable, because presently, most public spaces do not. For those opposed to masking, Heart & Hands is committed to protecting public health, so we are probably not the practice for you. 

I wear a mask to keep myself safe. I wear a mask to keep others around me safe.
I thank you in advance for masking for me, I will also offer you the same courtesy,

Christina Chan, R.Ac., your pro-masking, immunocompromised acupunk

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