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Sharon Randall: Happy mistake while using new gadget

By Sharon Randall

Sometimes it’s good to be wrong. I should know. I am wrong a lot. Ask my husband. He loves to correct me. It’s not his most attractive quality, but it proves helpful on occasion.

Before I tell you the following story, I want to be clear: I am fine, thank you. But I was not fine yesterday.

Have you ever thought you were dying? I don’t mean some day. I mean now. It’s a sobering experience. It can make you see more clearly what matters, and what you might do differently, if given another chance.

When I was 8, my dad rented out the pasture to a neighbor’s bull and warned me not to go near it. Back then, I had a tendency to do as I pleased. I still do. But when I climbed over that fence and saw that bull coming for me, I had only one thought: “Run, fool!”

That was long ago. I’ve since had a lifetime of practice as a daughter, a wife, a mother, a friend, praying for strength, caring for loved ones, calming fears, facing dangers head on. Now it seemed it was time for me to do those things for myself.

Here’s how it all began.

Like many of us, my husband has been reading quite a bit about the coronavirus, how to avoid it and identify symptoms and early warning signs. So he ordered a pulse oximeter, a clothespin-like gadget you clamp on your finger to measure your pulse rate and the level of oxygen in your blood. It arrived yesterday. He tried it first, and his rates were normal. I was busy and told him I’d try it later.

When he went out to the garage, I clamped the gadget on my finger and read the results, certain they’d be fine. They weren’t. I tried it again. And again. My oxygen level seemed so low that, according to one website, I needed to go straight to the emergency room. For a moment, I pictured a bull galloping across a pasture. But I told myself I’d been sitting too long, not breathing enough, just needed some exercise. So I got on a treadmill for 20 minutes then checked the numbers again. Still too low. I didn’t dare tell my husband. I didn’t want to alarm him, or worse, have him take charge.

Instead, I made a plan. First, I’d shower, wash my hair, do my makeup and pack my essentials. If I didn’t make it through the day, at least I’d have clean hair and a charger for my phone. Then I would tell my husband I love him, and that thanks to the stupid gadget he ordered, I was planning to drive to the ER alone, without him or my kids, because I didn’t want to risk exposing them to the virus.

That’s when it hit me. I might never see my loved ones again. Several long moments and a quick prayer later, when I finally told my husband the plan, his eyes got as big as hubcaps.

“Wait,” he said. “What was the reading on the oximeter?”

So I told him. And he looked at me the way he always does when I say something crazy.

Suddenly we both saw it. I was wrong. I had misread the numbers. The lesser number was my pulse rate. The larger was my oxygen level. And both were perfectly fine.

I felt like I’d just jumped a barbed wire fence and left a bull snorting on the other side.

Instead of going to the ER, I spent the day being thankful:

• Thankful to be alive.

• To be relatively healthy.

• To be home, even under quarantine, not in a hospital.

• To have loved ones who always laugh at my mistakes and are glad that I’m still here.

• And to look forward to waking up tomorrow, come what may, just to see what happens next.

I hope you and yours are thankful for those things, too.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove CA 93950.

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