FM Weekly 4.15
21 May 2023
Readers - Thank you all for understanding that I have been recovering and unable to send the newsletter until today. Hope everyone is doing as well as possible these days. Love, Stephanie
content notice: COVID, sexual assault, Trump, poor-quality care post-Dobbs
I remember the very first time I was assessed for a fit of N95 in 2009. It felt like one of the most official inductions into the health professions, something everyone has to do, that everyone has done. It was clear, that first time and every time thereafter, that the mask was meant to protect both patient and provider, serving as visual indication of the breaths we share during care. The correctly fit, most protective mask meant care, respect, safety, and protection.
The process of assessing someone’s correct size N95 mask is an intricate dance. Called the “fit test,” a small group of people gather in one room, place a plastic hood over their head, to then await someone spraying in a concentrated substance. Then we all, together, read a script out loud, while moving our head around in different positions, bending our bodies to the sides and up and down, to assess whether the substance would make it through the mask. If it did, the simple answer was that another size would be needed.
Something about the testing process always felt a little too whimsical to me. The concentrated spray is intensely sugary-sweet. The script we read is about rainbows. The movements appear goofy, uncertain, and at the discretion of the testee. Once someone had been fitted once, the repetitive testing after always seemed like a quick check box, only then accessorized and marked by the silly script and the sweet scent. And again we’d go around every year, the dance of sugar and rainbows and back to work.
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