Wednesday, June 3, 2009

For Yvonne and CPAP Mike

I wrote the following in 2005 and have given up completly on the CPAP machine. It may help a lot of people but I lost more sleep contending with the machine for two years than I gained from it. Emmy Lou now uses ear plugs and no amount of noise, including the alarm in the morning wakes her...

Pig Snout.
I’ve been using a CPAP machine for a year or so. It is much like a small vacuum cleaner, operating in reverse, the air being pumped to your face via a hose and mask. Worn while sleeping, it is the most recent cure for snoring and/or sleep apnea.
I first became aware of a problem when my wife began poking me every half hour or so as I tried to sleep. It seems the intensity of my snoring started the windows and wall paneling to vibrate which in turn made plaster flake off the ceiling.
The first step towards acquiring a CPAP is a visit to the sleep study center. There, you view an informative video tape (read infomercial) which depicts a man taking his sleep study and then happily wearing a CPAP. It looks like a huge clear plastic pig snout strapped to his face with a flexible hose sticking out the front.
While the device couldn’t appear more uncomfortable, he proclaims that now he has extra energy during the day and implies an abundance of sexual stamina. I’m sure he is very appealing to his wife in his pig snout.
Next, at the sleep study center, you take your own sleep “test”. This involves wearing 42 wires attached to your body, and a camera, high on the wall above, watching as you “sleep”. Wires fastened to your skin are attached with little heavy-duty post-it notes that have extra strength adhesive so when pulled off they perform the same function as hot wax hair removal. A dozen or so of the wires are stuck on your scalp. They use extra thick Vaseline that reacts to your hair much like warmer than average bubblegum might.
Needless to say, with all the wires, the camera, the goop in your hair, and the strange bed in which you can only lie in one position with out pulling hair from your chest, you really don’t sleep very well, if at all.
About two AM a nurse comes in and installs a CPAP to the front of your face. It’s now a full four hours after your bedtime. You’ve wrestled with the wires most of the night, lying with goop in your hair. Even though some one is looking at you on a monitor in the other room, probably laughing at how you look with a pig snout on, you drift into a fitful coma of sorts.
In the morning, when I was done with my test, the nurse asked me if I needed to take a shower before I left. She had just pulled the wires off, my hair felt like I had a few sticks of butter squished in it.
“Yes I think I could use a shower.”
The doctor concluded from my test, that I am a shallow breather, and I snore too much. My wife could have told him that. The Doctor, of course, didn’t stay up all night, he just studied reports of the results from the things which were wired to me.
My pig snout video he added to his collection of party tapes.
* * * *
I have a love-hate relationship with my CPAP machine. It is a pain in the pancreas to wear the pressurized plastic pig proboscis. But, when I sleep the night through, with the CPAP in place, I really do have more energy.
It isn’t as loud as a vacuum cleaner, but it does makes a little noise. It would probably help lull some people to sleep. I like to be able to hear the nighttime noises of an old house, the refrigerator and heat kicking on and off or gentle creaking on a windy night. I lose some of that with the machine on.
I sleep better now, not great. Often I wake up because my wife is not so much poking me as feeling my face or chest. As I wake, I think she might be getting frisky, perhaps the pig snout is attractive. Just maybe the fellow in the sleep study video with the snout on did have a reason to smile. Then, I realize she is just searching for my pulse. Apparently, the absence of my snore is deafening.

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