“My Happy Mistake,” May 12, 2020

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. As fine as I ever get. 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 (playing FreeCell) 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 had 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.

There are worse things in life than being wrong — even if you’re being chased by a bull.


  1. Glad you are fine. Take care! My husband is 72 and his doctor told him to stay home. After 40 days he called his doctor to let him go to work as he never had 40 days of vacation since last 55 years when he started his first job. He told him that his blood pressure is always high and he needs to go to work. He gave him note to work again with full precaution. May be his machine is wrong. Doctor cannot see him. He is staying home as well and his patients are doing consultation via video call. What a new modern world!!

  2. Welcome to the Club, Sharon. Blessings.

  3. Christine Marshall says

    There is nothing like expecting the worst…and it doesn’t happen.
    I have a life time of bad, bad dental outcomes. I have bought each of my dentists a new Mercedes and additions to their houses, not to speak of putting each of their kids through college.
    So when the practice finally re-opened, I knew I couldn’t wait any longer, the pain was too, too much. I saw my bridge sawed apart, teeth pulled, horrible pain and lots of $$$$.
    A set of X-rays later, all was fine, some sort of bone bruise or some such. In my happiness I didn’t listen too closely. I can so understand that column.

  4. Kate Sciacca says

    So glad that had a happy ending 😀👍🏻 Probably sounds strange, but I’ve been blessed to have almost died twice, right after our #2 and #8 sons were born… no need to give the gory details. It is quite the experience… and crazy how urgent our prayers become! There’s nothing quite like being barely conscious and hearing all kinds of folks yelling “we’re losing her!!!!” Sobering indeed.

    Life is waking up here in Nevada… it’s good to see 🙂. Hope you all get back to “normal” soon!

  5. Bev Stupek says

    Hilarious and heartwarming—just what we expect and NEED from you, my friend❣️ Don’t underestimate the value of your (our??) role in the family humor and joy equation!! My daughter’s Mother’s Day affirmation highlighted just that yesterday: “Happy Mother’s Day to the anchor of our family: … the one who’s been keeping us laughing … for 30+ years. No one celebrates life like you. Thank you …”. I’m pretty sure your family would say just that about you Sharon!!! 😄👏🥰

  6. Ruth Copsey says

    Always a special treat reading your stories! Well, Ken and I felt at the beginning of our lock down that perhaps we have the virus…coming back from a mountain retreat and coughing, sneezing and feverish. That was 2 months ago and tons of prayers since.

    Blessed to know you are safe and healthy. We are, too!

  7. Dick Daniel says

    As usual, love it. Happy endings are the best endings.

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