Back when America was great, people snored. It was natural, nobody made a big deal out of it. Oh sure, people who didn’t snore and lived with people who did usually complained, but there was really nothing they could do about it.
And then…science. And suddenly snoring wasn’t snoring anymore, it was “sleep apnea.” And while it wouldn’t kill you, it could help lead to your early demise — thorough heart disease or diabetes or your spouse beating you to death with her pillow.
I have been told that I snore. I believe this to be “fake news” because I have never personally heard myself snore. Plenty of people have told me I snore, but they could be lying. Still, I do wonder sometimes why I get up in the morning and The Wife is sleeping on the couch, or why I’ve been banned from camping out with my friends.
But lately I’ve been having second thoughts. I’m tired all the time. If I sit still for more than 10 minutes I black out. Every afternoon I come home from work, sit down on the couch, and fall asleep. I can’t make it through a movie without falling asleep. I now judge whether a movie is good or not based on whether or not I stay awake the whole time.
And so it was that last night I made my way to American Sleep Medicine for a sleep study. They put me in a nice room with a double-size bed. The tech then came in to wire me up — two electrodes on each leg, 2 on the rib cage, 2 on the shoulders, a half-dozen all around my head, a strap around my gut and one around my chest, two diodes shoved up each nostril and a clip to put my index finger in.
How the —- am I supposed to sleep like this?
I decided I’d better use the restroom before lights out, so I carried my box of wires into the adjacent room and did my business, then settled in for a good night’s sleep. It’s not easy to rest when you can’t move your head because of wires all around it and there are wires up your nose and everywhere else…but eventually I did drift off.
The next morning the tech informed me that they had found no evidence of sleep apnea. “Are you serious?” I asked. “Yes. You showed no signs of snoring,” he said.
“Rodney? Rodney? Sorry to wake you but you haven’t been breathing, so we’re going to try the CPAP on you.”
(Honest to God, I was sleeping and dreaming that I had passed the sleep test when the guy comes in and wakes me up to tell me I’ve failed the sleep test)
The first thing he does is tries this thing that he shoved up my nose that pushes air in. It’s the least invasive format but you have to be a good nose-breather to use it. My body was having nothing of that.So we put on the mask, which is uncomfortable and weird but at least I can breathe fairly normally.
Still, how the —- am I supposed to sleep like this?
I decided I’d better take another restroom break since I’m awake anyway. Lying there with the mask on was pretty darn freaky but eventually I did drift off. Some time later I found myself in a daze trying to take the mask off. The tech comes in.
“Rodney, are you OK? What are you doing?
“I dunno. Am I awake? What’s going on?”
The tech politely tells me we’ve still got some more time and puts the mask back on and I go back to sleep. The next thing I know the tech is waking me up and telling me we’re done for the day but I would probably need to come back for a second study so they can get the air flow adjusted just right. He gets me a cup of coffee and sends me away.
It’s 5:30 a.m. and I have this new sensation — like I’m awake. Like I’m not tired. I don’t know what to make of it. I go next door to Dierberg’s and buy donut holes for my son, then stop at McDonald’s for a couple of sausage burritos. Come home to find my lazy, deadbeat family are all asleep.
Go downstairs and eat breakfast while watching last night’s “Late Show.” Put in a load of laundry. Get caught up on all the boring crap my friends have posted on Facebook overnight. Write a blog post. It’s just now 9 a.m.
What the hell has happened to me?