Courage, Persistence, & Dedication To Her Values Were Her Weapons: How This Reader Wore No Face Mask in a Hospital and Doctor’s Office
I had a serious horse-riding accident on a trail ride on July 5. I was able to get home but a few hours later decided I needed to see a doctor. In my mind, this was the worst thing that could happen to me. Horses are dangerous and all during this “pandemic” I thought, what would I do if I needed medical care and they try to force a mask on me? Well, I was about to find out.
I decided to start with urgent care – maybe it wasn’t a serious injury. I could still walk around although my back and hip hurt pretty badly. I checked their website and it indicated accommodation was allowed. I called to confirm this and was told I would wait in my car and they would call me. That was exactly how it was, I went in without a mask and was not bothered at all.
The doctor said my injuries were severe with possible internal bleeding. She told me to go to the ER. I told her I couldn’t wear a mask and could she help me get in without one. She said no. I was filled with anxiety as I knew there was little chance of getting out of mask wearing. But I had potentially life-threatening injuries and had no choice.
When I got to the ER my husband dropped me off, I was stopped by the ‘guard’ at front door and told I had to put on a mask. I said I couldn’t wear one and asked to speak to the head nurse. I was told to go to registration and make my request.
The registration desk called the head nurse and she asked me why I couldn’t wear a mask. I simply said I couldn’t. She said it was hospital policy that everyone wear a mask and I had to prove it was disrupting my breathing by putting it on and taking a test. I said the mask gave me anxiety and panic attacks. Her response was that if that happened, they would treat me for it. I said wouldn’t it be better if I didn’t have a panic attack? I was simply told again I had to wear it; also told they wouldn’t see me for the CAT scan I needed without it. I had to agree.
I still hadn’t put the mask on. I asked the nurse if I could wait outside for someone to call me. That was agreeable, she put me outside in a separate area. I talked with her as she was taking my information and she seem to soften a little bit. She said they would call me and took my phone number down.
I waited for about an hour and evidently, they had called me but my phone didn’t ring. The message said they had a bed for me but were going to give it to another patient if I didn’t call right back. I tried to call back but the number was voicemail. I got an operator and was transferred to registration desk and they didn’t know what I was talking about.
I went in to inquire and a woman in the registration area told me that I had to get out of the building if I didn’t put on a mask. I was intimidated and walked out, then walked back in because I still hadn’t spoken to reception. I was trying to talk to them and this woman kept interrupting, yelling at me to put on a mask or leave the building.
I had no idea if they were going to call me again or if it was my tough luck that I lost out on the bed. They were more concerned about my lack of mask then the fact that I could have serious internal injuries. I was so upset I decided to go home and take my chances. It was pretty clear that it was more important to them that I wear a mask, then get treated for my serious injuries.
When I got home the urgent care doctor, who I had initially seen, left me a message and told me my injuries were more severe than she originally thought and I absolutely needed to go to ER. I was so upset I couldn’t think, I was in severe pain and didn’t think I would find a solution. My husband called another ER that was farther away and said he was taking me there.
When we entered the second ER, I again requested to speak to head nurse. I was allowed in and went to reception. They handed me a mask and I explain the situation. My husband decided he would put on the mask to keep the focus on me. They said they would call the nurse and to go ahead and sit in the waiting area.
The nurse called me in, and it was the same situation, she said they wouldn’t take me back for treatment without a mask. I still didn’t have one on, and interestingly she didn’t seem to care. She was listening to me regarding the accident and my injuries. She then said that in her opinion I needed immediate admittance as a trauma patient. At this point the mask issue seem to have been forgotten. I heard her calling someone and explaining my situation.
I was taken in immediately and at no point was the mask issue brought up again.
I was in that hospital for 24 hours, seen by about 20 medical people and only one of them asked me to put a mask on. I refused and his response was ‘well as long as you feel comfortable without one that’s fine.’
The only time I became uncomfortable and did something I really didn’t want to do, was when they told me I had to take a COVID test or they wouldn’t admit me. I initially refuse the test but was told I had no choice. I was in severe pain and far too afraid to leave the hospital in my condition over a COVID test. So, I consented to it.
I was discharged from the hospital the next day and then called the primary care doctor for a follow up appointment. This was the same network as the ER hospital so I assumed the mask wouldn’t be an issue. I requested accommodation on the phone but they refused. I was told I had to wear a mask in the building. I initially took the appointment, then called back and canceled it because I didn’t want to be seen by a doctor that forced masks.
So once again, the mask issue was causing me anxiety and making me hesitant to seek care. My injuries were stable and I considered taking my chances that I would recover, and not to bother with the follow up. But my health is important to me so wanted to try and find another doctor.
I decided to bypass the primary care doctor and go directly to an orthopedic surgeon as that was who ultimately needed to do follow up. I called another doctor and requested accommodation. The woman I spoke to told me nobody had ever requested this before. I was shocked. She was very kind and said she would check for me.
I waited a day for a return call. She called and left a message, and I called right back but when I ask for her the person on the phone said they would pull up my chart and let me know what was going on. She read my chart and told me I was going to be referred to neurology. I got panicky and said that no, I had called for orthopedic, not neurology and somebody needed to explain this to me. She said the nurse would call me back.
For the next 10 minutes I was in total panic because I thought they found a neurologic problem I wasn’t aware of. Finally, the original person I spoke to phoned me and said they had made a mistake reading my chart and I got an appointment with an orthopedist. I repeated my request for accommodation, and it was allowed. This appointment is not for a few weeks but I don’t anticipate any issues. I can sense when I’m speaking with reasonable people.
My accident and injuries were traumatic to me, but I almost didn’t seek care due to all the hassle of getting out of the mask requirement. From the beginning of the ‘pandemic’, I knew I would never put on a mask. I knew it was evil. I knew it was wrong. And I knew it would lead to bad things.
Now, over a year after the start of this thing, I’m not sure why everyone continues to comply. I can’t believe I’m the only person to request accommodation from a doctor’s office. I’m not even able to articulate why it is so important not to comply. I feel in my core that it simply cannot be done. I survived this entire episode without ever putting on a mask. In a way I almost risk my life for it. It surprised me to have that kind of power within my being.
—Maskless in the Northwest
I want to say thank you for this note. You have fill me with inspiration. Countless other readers will be filled with the same by your example. Friends will share this with friends. Family with family. Children with parents. People who never thought it possible to go maskless in their lives will suddenly make it possible.
That’s what it all comes down to: resolving to make it so and then following through.
Your summary of motivation is well put “I’m not even able to articulate why it is so important not to comply. I feel in my core that it simply cannot be done.”
All excellence starts like you indicate: not from
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