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    • #17582

      I have spent most of the pandemic rolling my eyes at anyone who complained too heavily about masks because ‘we with CF’ have had to wear in hospital more times than we could ever count. Surgeons wear them. I wear them at dance and move at really high-speed levels. And so on.

      But last night, while running an entire show with my company (where some of my dancers literally dance for 15 to 20 minutes straight before even getting to go off stage for a sip of water), I realized how sticky this situation can get. My dancers would never complain in standard masks, to be honest… but wearing the all plastic ones I requested so we could see their facial expressions and I can read there lips… Things got intense.

      They were fine when doing normal levels of insane exercise, but once we got to the intensity-like-nothing-else stage of things (ducking, diving, constant jumping, with no respite for dance upon dance upon dance) some of my dancers starting truly sucking in air and their plastic masks started sucking in too… and it truly looked like they were asphyxiating in front of our very eyes. One dancer’s lips turned blue. Another truly looked like someone was holding a plastic bag over her head. IT WAS AWFUL.

      Because they are who they are… they didn’t stop. They kept going, and performing fully, while we could see the masks stuck to their mouths and their gasping for air like a cat being choked. (They’re the toughest brood around.) But they also scared the actual living heck out of me. It was awful to watch them suffering and be helpless off on the sidelines waiting to see what they’d do. 

      We are now faced with a tough decision: Having ALL of our audience, youth (who can’t get vaccinated), teens, and ALL large-group numbers with vaccinated adults continue to wear masks, and allow just the 10 or so of us who dance at crazy intense levels to go without [with vaccination proof and a code of conduct for safe behavior in the weeks leading up to), as well as a note posted in the theater explaining exactly the steps taken to ensure the safety of compromised patrons, so mask-less faces don’t cause as much alarm for someone who might know any of the above when arriving to see the show.

      OR… Do we do as we are doing?

      Clearly, I am now leaning towards the former.

      Question For You: Have you been faced with a difficult mask on or off situation or experience lately, where you felt torn on what to do?

    • #17588
      Jenny Livingston

        I felt panic creeping in while reading this, Bailey! I’ve developed a specific type of anxiety that happens anytime I see someone struggling for breath, whether it be in real life or on a screen. Most recently, it happened while watching a fellow CF friend talk in their Instagram stories. That’s all – they were just speaking. But I could hear their gasps and see their neck suck and their chest heave as they spoke, and I had to stop watching. Reading your post gave me that similar heart-racing-rapid-breathing panic. Waah!

        All of this to say, I don’t have an answer or even a comparable experience. Have you asked your dancers what they would prefer? They are such troopers, but I’m sure seeing them struggle like that was so difficult!

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