The Man in the Velcro® Mask

You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you.
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.

  • Genesis 38:13-14

The prophet found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” So the man struck him and wounded him. Then the prophet went and stood by the road waiting for the king. He disguised himself with his headband down over his eyes. As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, “Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and someone came to me with a captive and said, ‘Guard this man. If he is missing, it will be your life for his life, or you must pay a talent of silver.’ While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared.”
“That is your sentence,” the king of Israel said. “You have pronounced it yourself.”
Then the prophet quickly removed the headband from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. He said to the king, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’” Sullen and angry, the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria.

  • 1 Kings 20:37-43

And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

  • 2 Corinthians 11:12-15

“Pain, anguish and suffering in human life are always in proportion to the strength with which a man is endowed.
Aramis: The weak suffer more, where the trial is the same, than the strong. And, what are the elementary principles, we may ask, which compose human strength? Is it not – more than anything else – exercise, habit, experience?d’Artagnan: Forward! Still forward! When it shall be time, God will tell me, as he has told the others.
Aramis: That which is actually good never alters.”

  • Alexander Dumas, selected quotes from The Man in the Iron Mask

First off, Velcro® was invented by George de Mestral.  He needed a memorable name for his invention.  He went with two French words “velour” meaning velvet and “crochet” meaning hook.  Thus, Velcro® essentially means hooked velvet.

Velcro® is a marvel of modern science.  I wonder if any child knows how to tie their shoes since most use Velcro® straps these days.  There seems to be Velcro® in most things that we buy these days.  It is easy to work with, just rip and replace.

Before I tell my story, I need to let everyone know that my wife says that I am “one of a kind.”  She calls me “talented beyond compare.”

Those sound like great compliments that would be impossible to live up to, but she is saying that I can trip over things that are not there, thus talented beyond compare, even for people who are a klutz.  That makes me one of a kind in pratfalls.

Now with the background, you can understand why I have not told my wife this latest story.

Notice the three items on the bed linens above.  The first is my wrist brace.  It has three Velcro® strips to hold it firmly in place.  The next is the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) mask that I am currently using.  There is a chin strap that has one Velcro® strip.  There is a neck strap with two Velcro® strips.  There is a head harness strap with two Velcro® strips.  The third thing in the photo is a second chin strap to assist in keeping my mouth closed.  It has three Velcro® strips.

If you were counting, these devices that I wear while I sleep total eleven Velcro® strips.

The chin strap goes underneath my chin and above my head.  To hold it in place, there is another small strap that slides behind my head, opposite of the CPAP mask which covers my mouth and nose.

When I put the CPAP mask on, I slide the neck strap over my head.  I then nestle my chin onto the chin strap and pull the harness over my head to secure the mask in place.  Since I have been using this design, I have adjusted the five mask straps, using the Velcro®, when a leak of air would awaken me in the night.  In a few months, I had everything perfectly adjusted and my sleep was starting to improve, until a couple of nights ago.

I guess I had been tossing and turning and some items started readjusting themselves all on their own.

I awoke and rolled over.  I buried my face into the pillow.  I was not worried about smothering myself.  The CPAP would provide the air, doing its CPAP thing.  But I realized that I had to go to the bathroom.  I do not have a long enough air hose on the CPAP to walk more than a few feet from the bed, so I reached up to slip the head harness off and then pull the mask up over my head.  But I could not get the harness off.  The mask in front of my face had joined itself to the chin strap, secured to the back of my face.  My face was trapped.

I did not panic, but I nearly cried.  Months of doing fine-tuning of the Velcro® straps to get them perfect had to be undone.  I found the end of one Velcro® strip and I unhooked it.  The mask was still tight upon my face.  I found the opposite Velcro® strip and I unhooked it.  The harness came loose.  I took the mask off; I did what I had to do; I returned to bed.  I turned the light on and disengaged the chin strap from the mask.  I placed the Velcro® in the “starting” position.  It took about an hour of getting over the “trauma” of being trapped in a Velcro® deathtrap, designed to “help” me sleep, but I finally went back to sleep.

And last night, the air leaked here and there.  I was simply too tired to deal with it.  Maybe the trick to CPAP use is to simply get used to air leaking from the mask, blowing cold jets of air directly into your eyes.  Sure, it could leak elsewhere, but would you notice at 2:00am?  The device that is supposed to give me a good night’s sleep, wakes me up!!

I will eventually get it adjusted back the way it was, probably to have the Velcro® develop a mind of its own, again.

Why did I place the wrist brace in the photo?  Could you imagine me having Velcro® from two different things intertwine and then in trying to unhook them, I get one hand trapped in the mess?  How would Houdini handle that one?!?!  Houdini never had to deal with Velcro®.

In the Scriptures above, “mask” is only found once in the NIV, with the Apostle Paul stating that his mission team never used “the mask of greed.”  The other Scriptures talk of disguise or masquerading.  Tamar tricked Judah into sleeping with her.  She hid her face with a veil.  The prophet was able to proclaim a curse on King Ahab by hiding his identity behind a headband covering his eyes, much like my chinstrap does when it slips from the top of my head.  The final Scripture reminds us that Satan masquerades himself as an angel of light, deceiving many.

But as I was trapped, I thought of how the man in the iron mask must have felt.  In looking at quotes from the book, a few related to suffering, pain, and trials.  But the last one talks of anything that is truly good never changes.  Thank you, Aramis, I needed that reminder.  God is good.  God never changes.  Maybe that is why we can endure the trials, suffering, and pain in our lives, because we have a rock on which to stand, that never changes.  And God does not change His attachments and reattach elsewhere to entrap us in the middle of the night.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. Sounds like a frustrating night! God is good and never frustrating! Amen

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My husband wears a cpap mask. They can be maliciously tricky.

    Liked by 1 person

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