If you follow my blog at all, you know that I’ve devoted it to reflecting my efforts in an art journal. I’d been trying to make art a more regular part of my life, to improve my skills. I’ve written a couple of children’s stories, and plan to illustrate them.

Covid-19 brought that to a screeching halt. The world is topsy-turvy right now, and the idea of sitting around and sketching in my little journal seems incredibly irrelevant right now.

I used to be an RN. I’m now immune-compromised, and in part because of that I am no longer able to work as a nurse. Hearing about the shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) for health care providers has been hard to hear. When I saw that the CDC was recommending that health care providers who have no medical masks try using BANDANAS or SCARVES to protect themselves, I was first dumbfounded, then outraged. How did we get to this point?

A couple of days ago, I saw that a nursing care facility was requesting that people who sew create masks. They even provided a pattern on their website.

I have a sewing machine. I have a stash of fabric. Here’s something I can do.

I wasn’t happy with their pattern, and looked for another. It’s easy to find them right now. I have the advantage of having worn them over the years as a nurse, sometimes for entire 12-hour shifts.

I decided that I didn’t want to do the elastic ear straps that so many patterns recommend–they can start to rub on the backs of your ears. They can also stretch, or be too tight. Instead, I am creating fabric ties. And to ensure a good fit around the face, I’m pleating the side edges. I double-layer the fabric. And finally, I’m sewing a pipe cleaner into the top edge, so that the wearer can press it around their nose, to create an even closer fit.

I made 12 of them so far, and sent 2 of them to health care workers in our family.  I then reached out to the local hospital and never heard back. Next I contacted a local assisted living facility, and the administrator there couldn’t have been more gracious, and grateful.

Then she told me that her 2 year old grandson is currently receiving chemo for a type of blood cancer, and that his hospital is running low on face masks. Could I make some children’s masks? Oh geez. A toddler on chemo without a face mask?

It took me the best part of a day, and yesterday I made six pediatric masks. Then I woke up today and, looking at the masks, realized they were probably too big for a 2 year old, so I made two more smaller ones (my dimensions are based on info found online).

We’ve taken the masks to the assisted living facility (and left them on the bench just outside the front door as directed). I’ve told the administrator to let me know if they need more. But in the meantime, I’ve found another assisted living facility nearby and messaged them.

It’s not much, but it’s something. They’re a sorry replacement for N-95 masks, but hopefully they’re better than nothing. And making them is more than just doing my duty of keeping my  immune-compromised self away from everyone else.

And it definitely feels way more meaningful right now than sketching in my journal. Just saying.

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