I got my first CPAP mask and machine two days ago.
This is a picture of what I look like wearing it at night.
Okay, not really. This fine art of Tom Banwell just reminds me of how I felt the last two nights with it on. Gears and tubes and pushing air in and out of my mouth and lungs, drying out every corner of my mouth like the Sahara Desert, just because I stop breathing sometimes at night.
Sleep apnea, they call it.
Sleep apnea causes short pauses in one’s breathing while they’re asleep. Nowadays, it’s become known as one of the most prevalent sleep disorders. About 22 million Americans have sleep apnea.
That’s a pretty big club to be a member of.
Most of us don’t even know we have any breathing issues. We toss and turn and wake up feeling more tired than when we went to bed.
The pauses in breathing caused by sleep apnea can occur 30 times or more per hour. Normal pauses are around 5 per hour. This can lead to a boatload of conditions, including severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue, high blood pressure (hypertension), risk of recurrent heart attack and stroke, abnormal heartbeats, developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and abnormal results on liver function tests. Not to mention loud snoring that can keep anyone who sleeps near you from getting good rest as well.
Who would have guessed?
So based on being a little stout (overweight), constant sinus drainage, and calling hogs (snoring), I had a sleep apnea test and passed with flying colors.
Actually, so far all is well and good. I had two decent nights’ sleep and adjusted to my octopus apparatus fairly well, considering. Although last night I must have moved it around on my face too much that it was loud enough to sing the song of my ancestors to my dog.
Somehow my vision of nocturnal beauty is shattered by this proboscis protruding from my face.
Remember the movie Alien? Remember the spider-like creature that attached itself to a crewman’s face, the creature with eight finger-like legs, and a long tail that tightly wraps around the neck?
Okay. Okay. Being a creative writer has its disadvantages as well as advantages. It’s easier to find a special way of describing the mundane, the ordinary, the necessary.
And sleeping well through the night is necessary. If you snore, are restless, overtired, sleepy during the day, talk to your doctor. Take the test. Take the mask.
You’d rather be wearing a breathing mask than the The Masque of the Red Death (thanks, Edgar Allan Poe).