DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: Like most of the rest of my family, I have what are called perennial allergies, meaning at any time of the year and in a whole lot of different settings, I can start to sneeze or cough. Of course, these days, this is not a good thing, and although I am always masked when out in public and sneeze or cough into my elbow (not always too pleasant with a mask on), I still get dirty looks and have had some people say really rude things to me about not caring about the health of others. When I explain it’s only allergies, they sometimes back off, but far from always.
It’s gotten to the point where if I start to feel a reaction coming on, I drop whatever I’m doing and get out to my car, or don’t even bother leaving the house, which sometimes means I don’t get to a grocery store or the pharmacy, which I sometimes really need to get to to pick up things for my dad and his roommate, neither of who are supposed to be going out and around.
Is it even worth defending myself? --- NOT FREE TO SNEEZE
DEAR NOT FREE TO SNEEZE: I truly feel for you, since I too come from a family of year-round allergy-sufferers.
Since it really isn’t always practical or necessary to remain locked away, if you need to get out to run errands, especially for those who are more vulnerable than you, I think the best you can do is to continue to excuse your allergies, and just accept you’ll be doubted. You can’t change people’s mindsets, but you can, and should, get on with your life so long as you are healthy and can do so safely.