Skip to main content
  • Bad Dreams Come True

    Jeffrey G. Chipman, MD, FACS

    When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I woke up one summer day and went next door to my friend’s house to see if he could play.  When he came to the door, he started laughing and pointing at me.  I looked down and realized that on that lazy, sunny summer morning, I had forgotten to put on my pants.  There I was, standing at the neighbor’s front door in my tighty whiteys.  To say I was mortified was an understatement.  It is said that to get over stage fright, think of the audience in their underwear.  That doesn’t work for me.  I just go back to being a little boy, paralyzed and embarrassed in my skivvies, hopelessly trying to figure out to get back home without the rest of the world seeing me. It was everyone’s bad dream come true.
    This memory came flooding back to me this afternoon when I left my office to meet the residents for rounds.  I was in the elevator and realized I had forgotten my face mask.  Unfortunately, it stopped before it reached my floor, and I could unobtrusively return to grab a mask.  With my head bowed, I quickly stepped off while the other person entered and was able to slink back to my office without anyone else seeing my nakedness.  I felt like Adam in the Garden of Eden trying to hide from God. (KJV Genesis 3:8-11 if you care to look it up.)
    After this year, I’ve wondered if not wearing a mask will feel strange?  Will I continue to wear one even when mandates are lifted? How many others will continue to wear them?  Will there be societal peer pressure one way or another?  Will I feel the scorn of those around me if I don’t wear one like some felt at the beginning of the pandemic when they did? Will I remember to put on sunscreen? One thing is for sure about masks. They helped keep me warm this winter when the temperature was below zero.  Masks in the winter may be permanent for me. In contrast, they were stifling to wear outside last summer. I’m looking forward to seeing sunburned faces in a couple of months.

    Jeffrey G. Chipman, MD, FACS
    Frank B. Cerra Professor of Critical Care Surgery
    Division Head, Critical Care, and Acute Care Surgery, 
    University of Minnesota
    Executive Medical Director, Critical Care Domain, M Health Fairview