Sandy Klein

Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so love the people who treat you right, forget about the ones who don't, and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it. – Harvey Mackay

I believe Covid has won. Covid has won because we have given up. We have waived the white flag. We don’t want to talk about it anymore. We’ve lost our empathy.

Americans say it’s ok to take the weak. Americans say it’s ok if my neighbor dies. Americans say I’m ok if my kid gets sick. Americans say we accept the risk. JUST DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!

Covid has beaten 427,635 Americans. Today Covid stole the last breath of 3,895 Americans.

In 2019…

78 children died of Covid. That leaves 156 grieving parents and countless grieving siblings and extended family. Plus young children who have lost a friend or classmate. Those 78 dead children will never have kids of their own. 78 children whose parents can’t kiss goodnight. I ask you, if it’s your child that dies would you regret team sports and kids clubs? Most will say it’s only 78. If it’s your kid it’s your whole world.

510 teens and young adults died. Those are 510 people that maybe never graduated from high school or college. 1020 grieving parents and countless grieving siblings and extended family. Maybe they even left young children without their parent. 510 dreams extinguished. Who would they have been? Doctors, Rockstars, maybe investors or the person who would have cured cancer. I ask you if your kid dies will you regret demanding maskless sports, in person learning, and a teens right to party?

62,326 Americans age 24-64 died. Parents, spouses, siblings, teachers, coaches, coworkers. 62,326 lost paychecks supporting their family. 62,326 empty seats at the kitchen table. I ask you if you can’t pay your bills because your spouse has died or your raising your kids through the death of their parent, will you regret demanding the right never to wear a mask?

266,647 Americans over age 65 died. Our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. The leaders of our families. The holders of our history. I ask you if it’s your elderly beloved family member, would you still be ok with saying Covid only kills old people?

I ask you how you would feel if you were caught in the middle. If you or your loved one is one of the 50% of people who have lingering symptoms of covid for months after your sick. 12.5 million people who didn’t die, but who aren’t healthy. If your husband didn’t die but lays in a bed in a coma. The teenager who got covid from the football team and who now can’t pass the cardiac exam to make the basketball team. If your walking around your house now with an oxygen tank unable to work or support your family.

Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t tell me to wear a mask. You can’t make me get a vaccine. I’m not going to tell you where Ive been. Don’t tell the coach you’ve got covid. You can’t make me quarantine. I have rights.

Yes we all have rights. No I don’t believe the government should have to tell me to wear a mask. No I don’t believe the government should make vaccines a law.

However… If you won’t wear a mask, maybe you don’t have a right to a hospital bed. If you won’t wear a mask perhaps you don’t have rights to a ventilator. I mourn those that have died. I mourn the loss of life and the loss of quality of life. I mourn the loss of empathy and compassion.

Lives lost in comparison:

  • 291,557 WWII
  • 214,938 Civil War
  • 53,402 WWI
  • 47,424 Vietnam War
  • 33,686 Korean War
  • 5,669 Iraq/Afghanistan

I have anxiety, and that is ok to talk about. I have talked about our families struggle with anxiety, but never my own. This has been a very hard week for me, and I think probably a lot of other people. So I wanted to talk a little bit about my own struggle with anxiety. It’s probably something I’ve had my entire life, as I always use to throw up on the first day of school, but it isn’t something that I really had an awareness for until later in my life.

I remember having a true anxiety attack the week I moved from South Dakota to Arizona. It felt like I was having a heart attack, and I was driving. I pulled over on the side of the road, reclined my chair, and just took some deep breaths and it passed. I reasoned with myself that a heart attack wouldn’t have just stopped, and once I felt better I went about my life. Looking back at the feelings and the situation, with all I’ve learned about anxiety through Brooklyn, I understand now that it was probably an anxiety attack. A lot was going on. I had lived in SD for a year and a half, my life was great in SD and so was my job, and I accepted a a transfer to Arizona. It was the second time in two years that I was moving multiple states by myself. I was taking a chance on myself and that is scary.

The second time I remember really struggling was when we were planning our wedding. September 11th happened and we were getting married November 24th. I became completely overwhelmed. We had people doubting our marriage because we were engaged 5 months after meeting (married 19 years this month so we showed them), and guests coming in from across the country. It was the first time I ever talked to a doctor about feeling anxious, and the doctor gave me an anxiety medication for the 30 days leading up to our wedding. I stopped the medication as soon as the wedding chaos was over, and I felt normal again.

Lexi Rose

When Lexi was born I had post partum depression. I think it’s probably the only time in my life I have experienced depression, and looking back now I’m glad I went through that. Glad because it helps me to better understand when the people around me are going through it. I remember so vividly just crying all the time. Crying in my room. Crying when Adam had to go to work. I just cried. I wasn’t sad. I had experienced tremendous sadness over the lost of our first child prior, and this was so different. It was a total hormonal emotional response. I never felt angry, or violent, or like hurting myself or anyone. I just simply cried and felt sad while at the same time I was so happy being a mom. For anyone going through post partum depression you aren’t crazy. You feel like your crazy being so sad but so happy all at the same time. Talk to your doctor, because they can help you. I did not go through that when I had Brooklyn. It was only with Lexi’s pregnancy.

I began taking a low dose medication a few years ago for anxiety when the girls health issues became overwhelming, and after I had to return to workout away from home full time. I was sitting in my doctor’s office for a yearly checkup, and she asked how my family was. I started talking, and suddenly I was crying and crying and you get the point. She recommended I take something, I argued that I didn’t need it, she told me to give it 30 days, and several years later I continue to take that same low does. I want to acknowledge that it’s ok to have help when life is hard. Over the years some times have been harder then others, but overall I’ve been able to manage pretty well. I think a large part of that is because I recognize when I begin to feel overwhelmed with life. I’ve learned to slow down and that I don’t have to always be there for everyone. It’s ok to put away the phone, even for a weekend, and just be present with the people in your house. It’s ok not to engage in the text conversation that your besties are having. You don’t have to put on a smile and perform for the world. It’s important to talk to your spouse and your friends so that you have someone to share with. I also acknowledge tough days to my kids, because they need to know that its ok to talk about their tough days.

The Journey

Life is hard right now for a lot of us. I will do separate blogs about the effects of COVID and politics on my mental health. I just wanted you to know that if you are struggling you are not alone. If sometimes you cry in your closet you are not alone. If sometimes you want to yell at the world for no reason you are not alone. Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Acknowledge your hurt and talk to someone. Last night I turned my light out at 8pm, told my teenagers goodnight, and made sure I got a good nights sleep. This morning I woke up and realized that I needed the simple joy that friends bring to my live, and I invited our quarantine squad over to sit around the firepit. Surrounding myself with the people I love, dogs, and puppies are just want my heart needs to refuel. Find what refuels your heart, and then don’t be ashamed when you need to slow down and recharge.

Love yourself. Love God.


About a year ago I did a blog post on choosing a mask and no one cared one bit about it, unless you were in the special needs community. Then this thing called COVID hit, and it is the most read blog post I have ever written. Now that we are a couple of years into our Cystic Fibrosis journey, and many months into the COVID pandemic, and I know a lot more about masks. Masks are one of the most controversial things in our society now. Who could have ever imagined? A year ago if you saw someone in a mask you assumed they must have cancer, or some other terrible disease. Masks were for those poor sick people.

Lets dig into the type of masks you do and don’t need. I’m writing this from multiple perspectives. From the perspective of a special needs mom. From the point of view of the wife of a factory worker. As a relatively healthy human. I can understand the multiple needs that people have around wearing masks. I’m going to link the current CDC guidelines for quarantine, masks, and travel, because I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on Gray’s Anatomy. It gets a little deeper then the topic of this blog, but with the holiday’s coming no harm in over sharing.

Let’s break things down.

  • N95: You don’t need to run out and buy yourself a N95 respirator. If COVID is that bad you should be staying home and leave the heavy equipment to those who are medically trained.
  • Face Shields: I hate to break it to you, and I know it isn’t popular, but face shields aren’t proven safe. Think about it like sunglasses. The sun can still get in all around your glasses. Well when you are wearing that face shield all the germs can still float in and out of the free zone around your mask.
  • Surgical Masks: Those ugly masks that you only saw doctors and nurses, or someone you assumed was sick, wearing remain the gold standard. They are made to keep out the germs not to be pretty. This is the mask our Cystic Fibrosis Clinic recommends for our daughter. You can get a box of them fairly cheap on Amazon. You wear them once and throw them away. You might go through a few a day. Wear it and toss it. Don’t save it for later. This is also a great mask for people with a chronic illness. Lexi says that it is the easiest mask to breathe in, and in a hot climate like Arizona it is definitely a great option to have available.
  • Gaiter: Make sure if you are wearing a gaiter that it has two layers, or that you fold it over to make two layers. This is a good option, and no one in our family personally wears a gaiter. I know a lot of people love these, and it seems like a good option for some.
  • Cloth: Material matters! You’ve got to be able to breathe, so be smart about the materials. Your not going to want a vinyl mask, and a sheer mask might meet the “must have a mask to enter” guidelines but you aren’t fooling anyone. Remember two or more layers of material and washable. I like homemade masks where the maker doesn’t go one size fits all. You might have an oblong face, you might have a double chin, you might be 6ft 5 and have a head just as big. Not everyone is going to fit into the same size mask. Also the stitching can be fancy, but if it is so tight it restricts your ability to move your lips it probably isn’t a viable option. I think everyone knows someone that sews masks these days, so if you have a special face have them make you a special mask.
  • Masks with exhalation valves: This one can get tricky. The CDC guidelines say no, because the virus can escape through the vents. However, as an experienced special needs mom, if you spend the money and get a mask where the valve has replaceable filters then you mitigate that issue. Masks with valves are something that we use during the colder months with Lexi. The cold air makes it harder to breathe for Lexi, and where a surgical mask is perfect for the hot temperatures we need options for cold weather as well. But note if we are in a medical enviroment she always wears the surgical mask. Our favorite is the Cambridge Mask. I’ll put a link below. This is not sponsored, and we earn no commission at all.

I have a hard time with mask complainers. Let’s address the civil right not to wear a mask argument. The fact that you put on pants and shoes everyday, and that we don’t let people walk around nude, is validation enough that making someone wear a peace of cloth is not a violation of anyone’s civil liberty. I do not think that the government should make mask wearing a law, because I would hope that we would all have the common sense to act like intelligent and compassionate humans and wear the mask.

When it comes to masks I do not care your politics, but I think if you use politics as a reason not to wear a mask then you are only reflecting your own lack of common sense and priorities. We march on Washington to support ProLife, but we won’t try and protect the person standing next to us at the grocery store? Think about that for just a minute. We argue about what “lives matter”, but we disregard the life of our neighbor who might be a cancer survivor, have a lung disease, or be high risk. Tell me how that makes sense to any compassionate person?

Finally let’s address the “I can’t wear a mask.” I don’t want to talk about how you have asthma or another condition that means you shouldn’t wear a mask or that the mask will make you sick. If the sickest amongst us have lived their lives pre-COVID wearing masks to protect themselves, clearly you wearing a mask is not going to cause you great harm. Of course there are extreme medical conditions that would make mask wearing not possible, but if you have an extreme medical condition you probably had it before COVID, and it shouldn’t just now suddenly be extreme. Lexi’s lung function can be 60% when she’s sick, at doctors, needing treatments, and guess what she wears a mask to all those things. I wanted to get all that out in the open, because I am not going to be a sympathetic ear to the anti-mask movement. Yes, sometimes wearing a mask literally feels like it could take Lexi’s breath away, and in those situations we have her step outside or walk to a space where no one is around and take deep breaths. The risk of never wearing a mask for her is much higher then the discomfort that sometimes a mask can cause. To stress, I know some of you can not wear masks and have a very strong medical or emotional reason why. This is focused on those suddenly with lung issues amongst us.

This blog is from my perspective. It is from my personal experiences as a special needs mom. The topic of masks can be so confusing, and I have had several years of trial and error to find what works, is safe, and comfortable for my family. I get angry, angry like a mother bear protecting her cub, when people want to argue about masks. I sat in a room and held my step moms hand while she died of lung cancer. I’ve cried next to my daughter’s hospital bed as she had surgeries, tests, and treatments for Cystic Fibrosis and Asthma. I believe I am a compassionate person, but I have an extreme lack of sympathy for those that want to complain about the injustice of a mask. I think that those people must be so truly blessed not to live on the flip side of the argument. I hope that you never find yourself on the flipside of the argument.

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