Last night at 9pm I hooked the oxygen probe onto Sam's big toe and set the oximeter machine rolling - it monitors oxygen levels in the blood - 100% being normal, with the machine set to alarm at 84% or less. Last night I was to turn his oxygen off completely and do the test with 'room air'.... and the experiment seemed to go really well! When we tried this in hospital on 23 December within 3 minutes the machine was beeping and his levels consistently dropped for an hour that we had to put him back on oxygen and claim defeat. Well last night he had about 3 hours before the machine alarmed, and then it only alarmed every 2nd hour after that! Tonight I have to put the prongs back on him and will repeat the test but on .25 l of oxygen.
It was so lovely to watch him sleeping and I found myself sitting and smiling at his sweet face unobscured by tapes.....then holding back tears.... then weeping with admiration at all Sam has put up with and thanks to God that Sam is part of our family. As I pondered Sam's journey it struck me that I have never walked in his shoes or could fathom what his life is like..... so at 4am this morning as I lay awake I got up and put Sam's nasal prongs on.... not on Sam... ON ME! And my reaction surprised me. Done out of curiosity, I never realised it would have the profound impact on me that it did. I put them over my ears, 'at' my nose (he has infant prongs which don't fit me) then tightened it around the back of my neck, then cut and put the tape on my cheeks. It felt weird, not sore in anyway, but definitely inconvenient. I decided to remove one tape just by pulling it off, which stung a little (but that is on my tough skin so would be sorer on Sams baby skin), then I used 'remove' which is a hospital supplied adhesive remover to get the other tape off - it gets nail polish off (um...so I've heard!) so it is pretty stinky and potent stuff. Having that smell right next to my nose was unpleasant and the residue of tapes and the 'remove' was like having slime on my cheek....... Sam has his tapes changed anywhere from 3 to 6 times a day, depending on how many times he scratches them off as he is so irritated by them and his skin shows the effects of 8 months of nasal prongs.
As I sat with the prongs on and stared at my sleeping boy with his clear face I was overcome with a tenderness that I hadn't known for a while. To keep functioning to care for him I guess I become mechanical and almost professional in the tasks, which I don't actually think is a bad thing or nothing would get done!. But this morning I allowed myself the time to stop and think about what Sam had to endure ..... at my hands..... and I felt a piece of my hard crusty heart melt away.... and it felt so good to weep, not as a 'care-giver' but as his mother, with admiration and sorrow for all he has to endure.
I can't walk in Sam's shoes, but I hope having done this will help me care more sensitively when I have to do 'things' to him. I hope this means I will be less impatient with the old person driving 10 kms below the speed limit, who may have lost confidence due to sore arthritic hands. I hope this means I will be less judgemental of the grunting shop assistant who just may be the sole exhausted breadwinner for their family where unemployment is rife. I've never walked in their shoes, but today I pray that as I limp along in mine I will know more grace and kindness for others limping along in theirs.
'When I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need.' Psalm 138 v 3