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Lessons learned from the mask!

The mask... colored, surgical, plain, rumpled, see through or doubled, the mask has been a big reminder of covid-19 and it’s implications.
It has also served as a defense mechanism and a form of protection.
It has also served to unmask certain things in my world of medicine...
It has also given me tips to better serve my patients.
Lessons #1
The eyes reveal a lot!
This past year the eyes were one of my main ways to communicate (with and without talking) concern, joy, seriousness, strength, hope and encouragement.
The eyes also showed pain, fatigue and sometimes worry.
You see, without the distraction of the gestures of the mouth I am able to focus on the eyes. And the mask did that- hid “distractions.” A lot is communicated in silence, sometimes. Just the eyes.
Eyes that tell me “there’s something more going on” than what the mouth says.
Eyes that evade and then reveal the struggles of addiction.
Eyes that echo fear but also search for reassurance in mine
Eyes that say “I feel invisible” but mine that say “I. See. You”
Covid stole the “hug” - I snuck a few in here and there! To the mom who lost her daughter to addiction and to the other who just found out he was HIV positive.
But in spite of the mandate- necessary! I argue but digress- the mask has a blessing in many ways.
The art of communication re-shapened.
Lesson #2
No bad breathes back or forth!
This was a plus for my patients as I enjoyed many onion-loaded salads and ginger/garlice spiced foods to my delight.
Oh don’t get me wrong, my breath is a touch of heaven mixed with earth but with the mask I braved the unusual. I did bear the brunt all by myself though as I alone was left to the consequences of my breath.
Lesson #3
Prevention is key!!!
Flu rates were astronomically low!
As in ... I hardly saw flu cases as many were masked up.
Though the mask may leave a mark ... a reminder of what seemed impossible .... perhaps it could be a new way the society takes on to combat infections spread by respiratory droplet or airborne.
The flu cost many lives a year and the rate has been lowered with the mask.
Lesson #4
It’s amazing how much of your face is represented by your smile and nose!
This lesson helped me and my patients appreciate our telemedicine visits more.
We could smile and say “ah! That’s what you look like”!
I ... we rather.. look forward to “normalcy” ... in the meantime we keep pivoting- making changes and adjustments in our mindsets, tactics and way of life that help us minimize health-and other-risks and improve our health outcomes (mask included)...
In health,
Dr. Olabintan
Dr. Tolulope Olabintan MD, AAHIVS, FAAFP, dipABLM Dr. Tolulope Olabintan is the Co-Founder and Medical Director of Livingspring Family Medical Center. She is a Christian, Family Physician, writer, mentor, mother and wife. She takes joy in empowering her patients and readers to live their fullest lives possible. She helps patients live long and well as she believes that the quality of life is just as important as the quantity of life. She is also a foodie and loves the colors teal and orange. Dr. Olabintan completed her medical degree at UMDNJ Rutgers Medical School in 2007. Dr. O went on to finish her Family Medicine Residency from Albert Einstein College of Medicine Family Medicine residency where she also served as a Chief Resident. She then went on to complete a women’s health/surgical obstetrics fellowship at St Francis hospital in 2011. She is a board-certified Family Physician, Lifestyle Medicine, a HIV specialist and a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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