My Birthday Wish: No More FOMO - Uncover Ostomy
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My Birthday Wish: No More FOMO

A bunch of you have been following me since I started Uncover Ostomy almost 11 (!!) years ago. You’ve probably seen, over the years, me post about my birthday. Perhaps, you’ve also noticed that each year since the first post, the excitement about turning another year older dwindles, just a little bit, year over year. Well, today’s another birthday post. Wait, I promise there’s more to it. 

This year, I don’t want this post to be about me. I’m another year older, no more wiser, and many of you know that this time of the year, despite it being my birthday, is actually pretty shitty:

12 years go, my grandmother died in the middle of August.

11 years ago, my dad died on the second last day of August,

Last year, my grandfather died on the last week of August.

Sure, I just celebrated my fourth anniversary with the best goddamn quarantine partner anyone could ask for, and the absolute love of my life, but it has always been a little clouded by what this time of the year means. Getting another year older, at ~~this age~~, isn’t quite pulling as much excitement as it used to.

In last year’s birthday post, I talked about how important it is to appreciate each year you have. After the loss of people in my life, and the fact that I almost didn’t have a life to live past age 13, this is still very important. As well, when you’re part of a medical community such as ours, it’s par for the course that we lose important people – I know of two in our community that we’ve lost this year. I am grateful for another year on this earth.

I also realize that the post I linked above is one of the very few I’ve written in the last year since my last birthday. To be completely honest, it’s not like I’ve had much to write about. I’ve been quarantining since March 12th. In total, I’ve probably left my home 7 times in just as many months. I am terrified of what’s beyond my doors.

This is what I want to talk to you about, today, on my birthday. I want to take advantage of the opportunity you have given me, of your attention, on my birthday. I want you to hear, understand, and spread my birthday wish.

 

No more FOMO. 

 

“What is FOMO,” some of you may be asking? “I know what FOMO is,” many others (closer to my age) may be thinking.

Sure, FOMO has been known to stand for “Fear of Missing Out,” and boy have I (and many of us) been missing out. It is definitely still relevant. Just not what I’m going after.

Instead, I have a different – a new – acronym in mind.

Fear Of Masks Off.

FOMO. 

Wear ya goddamn masks, people! COVID-19 KILLS!

We’re living in the absolute worst fucking timeline and, while we don’t know how we got here (that’s a lie, we all know), we’re stuck in this weird limbo where everything and nothing is happening at the same time. 

Thousands of people are dying every day in our first-world, 21st century medical system that shouldn’t be, and there is a whole group of people thinking that everything is made up. Some businesses are closed and can’t possibly reopen, causing job losses overnight, with evictions happening every day and people going hungry, all because a group of people won’t adhere to easy-to-follow mask requirements. Other businesses are kind of  (?) open, with employees having to risk their lives because they have no choice or they will be homeless, and there’s a whole community of people saying that wearing a mask inside someone else’s business is against their personal rights.

The ostomy community is made up of people who are all medical miracles, as well as caregivers, family members, and friends. We have listened to medical doctors, science, research studies, and have experienced Western medicine work for us. I would have been dead at age 13, if not before then, without it. Most of us have also been operated on by doctors wearing masks. My ostomy surgery was over 8 hours of doctors working hard, standing, and wearing masks. No one passed out or couldn’t breathe.

We are sick, we have been sick, and we will be sick again thanks to genetics, accidents, or unavoidable disease, but there is no reason that we need to die from a pandemic – yet we are the most likely to. We are more likely if the spread continues because some people think wearing a mask infringes on their rights instead of thinking about how they could literally kill the people around them.

I am afraid. I am afraid that when I go into public wearing a mask, that someone I run into won’t be wearing one. Wearing a mask is most effective when others wear them, too, so even if I and someone else are wearing them, that someone else could have been next to another person who wasn’t wearing one, catch COVID-19, and spread it to me. Based on the sheer number of global cases, we know how easy it is to catch it. I am afraid of FOMO – going outside and seeing people without masks.

We also know how easy it is to die, and anyone could. Old people, young people, people who are healthy – there are stories about all. We – our ostomy community – is at a greater risk of death and I can’t sit back and watch things get worse without saying something.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t gone anywhere or done anything since March 12th. I have both FOMOs. 

I have work FOMO. I shut down my office on March 12th and my 11-person team has been working from home since. I miss them, they miss each other, and we all miss working collaboratively in one space together.  Will we ever be back together? Who knows at this point.

I am having FOMO as I see my friends go to patios (in masks), or my brother and his fiancé having picnics in the park in a white circle on the grass. My mom works in a hospital and still goes in. Meanwhile, I haven’t put real clothes on in months. 

One of my best friends had to cancel her May wedding, while another friend is getting married and my husband and I can’t travel to attend. We’re a few weeks away from cancelling our annual Xmas vacay, accepting our fate of missing this year’s time off.

It’s almost like wearing a mask is too easy. It’s so easy to do that people think it’s a joke. “This piece of fabric will save lives? PFFTT!” When, in reality, it really is that simple. Just buy a $10 cloth mask, put it on your face (OVER YOUR NOSE, too!) and just don’t touch it until you get back home. Then sit back, relax, and realize you saved lives and it couldn’t have been easier.

As I write-off this birthday and pretend that this year doesn’t count so I really am not getting any older, I urge you to wear a mask. Take what’s happening seriously, do your part, and remember that people like me – people from our community, and literally every single person on this earth, could die from something we can stop. Just wear a goddamn mask. 

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Jessica Grossman
info@uncoverostomy.org
2 Comments
  • John Empson
    Posted at 19:30h, 03 September Reply

    Thanks for keeping up the good fight and sharing what people need to do.

    I have been at work since this started and masks aren’t mandatory if you can believe that in our factory.

    I have been wearing one since like you compromised immune system, ostomate for 14 years.

    Keep doing what you do!

    • Jessica Grossman
      Posted at 19:31h, 03 September Reply

      John, that is so scary that you’ve been working with a compromised immune system! Keep doing what you do and stay safe!

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