I have sleep apnea. You’ ve likely heard of it before, and are maybe aware of what it means. I snore. That’s what most people believe apnea consists of. It also ensures that I get no more than about three hours of sleep in a row on any devoted night, and I also have extremely high blood pressure and a host of other complications. My physician once took my blood pressure five times in a row with three different machines, before calling in a second physician to check with yet another machine. The reason, I was told after, was that they’d ever seen a living person with blood pressure like mine who wasn’t experiencing a severe cardiac episode. My blood pressure is that high. Every day.
Needless to say, I don’t enjoy this, so I’ve endeavored to help myself out. It’s a bit of a process, but the prize for success is not succumbing, so I’m motivated.
# 4. There’s A Laundry List Of Problems
Ever since my doctor’s fostering diagnosis that I was a living heart attack, I’ve been trying to find ways to fix myself. In order to be diagnosed with sleep apnea, however, you need to do a sleep survey and then have your doctor prescribe one of these preposterously expensive machines that force you to breathe at night. Voices easy enough at first, but getting into a sleep survey, at least for me, took ages.
Or, if you work for Cracked, you just have one of the unpaid interns give you mouth-to-mouth all night .
In the meantime, I was enjoying the insane list of complications one gets to experience with sleep apnea and high blood pressure. For instance, I can’t sleep. Pretty much ever. So if I sit still for too long during the day, I tend to find myself abruptly waking up 20 minutes later with a road of salivate operating from my face to my shirt. That’s the funny side effect. It also means I need to do twice as much laundry, because I have to change my shirts all the time so that I don’t have to come up with an excuse for the big off-color spot on my left shoulder.
Hypertension also puts me at risk of heart attack and stroke, and the apnea itself can help me get fatty liver illnes, heart disease, coronary artery illnes, heart failure, diabetes, weight gain, irritability, memory loss, and acute lycanthropy. It’s basically a nightmare — except not, because you can’t sleep long enough to have really decent nightmares, as you keep waking up and peeing and swearing and whatnot. It’s a wakemare. A shitty, fully-conscious experience wherein you realize that having too much salt or a couple more chicken wings could cause you to collapse in a spasming heap. All because you can’t fuckin’ sleep right.
And there are no educate montages for your thalmus .
You can get drugs to manage the various symptoms, but none of them will attain you feel more rested during the day. So basically, you need to address the apnea. And there’s really only one decent way to do that.
# 3. You Require Machinery
The sleep apnea machine is the closest science has now come recreating the experience of trying to nap with an foreigner facehugger porking your throat with a pressurized air dong. My particular machine comes with a mask that includes a stabilizing foot on my forehead, a spider’s web of elastic headbands, and a nose cone. Once I have it affixed over my nose in an airtight way, I can turn the machine on and it literally only shoots air at my beak. The notion is that it forces-out my airway to remain open so it doesn’t collapse while I inhale, which is essentially the problem with sleep apnea.
Tom Hardy voice modulator sold separately .
Shooting wind down your snout is a weird thing to get used to, as is finding a way to breathe upstream. Inhaling out against resistance is not a normal part of life, so trying to relax while forcing air out of your nose is not especially restful. At the same day, at least if you’re me, once you reach that semi-conscious nation between sleep and wakefulness when you’re not sure if you’re dreaming or not, having a pressurise air mask on your face is basically fodder for a million and one comedy routines. I’ve woken up convinced a cat was eating my face, that someone was sitting on me and farting right up my nose, that a spider was trying to merge with my head, and a variety of other ridiculous things that ended with me rending the mask off and throwing it away.
And no chestbursters! Yet !
If you fit everything on correctly, it’s not entirely obtrusive. When the audio is barely noticeable and the hose hangs off to one side, then you’re good. Unless you roll the wrong way and dislodge the nose piece only a little bit. At that point, every breath sounds like a high-pitched fart is targeted at your eyeballs. You’ll be forced to adjust the mask at least a dozen periods, in the dark, until you get it lined up again.
# 2. You Can’t Do This Yourself
For a while, I tried to figure out a way to deal with this myself, because sleep apnea sounds like baby shit. I can’t sleep properly? Fuck that. Sleep is so easy that it’s literally the only thing you can do when you’re not awake. If I can fuck up sleeping, how can anyone trust me with money, autoes, or pointy objects? So it was a shot in the pride to suggest that I’d somehow bunged up my ability to lay still for eight hours.
“I’m gonna go take a nap, babe.”
“OH, JUST RUB IT IN MY FACE! ”
Initially, because the biggest objection anyone had registered against my sleeping was snoring, I bought one of those dumbass plastic mouth pieces that attain you look like you plan to box the Sandman. I had to put it in simmering water and then insert it into my face so it could mold itself to my disgrace and always be there for me.
The mouth guard succeeded in stimulating me dream about nachos constantly. Every night, I was sure I was eating nachos, and I’d wake up chewing this stupid piece of plastic before spewing it out then sleeping again. I’d then wake up in the morning with a damp, gnarled mouth bit between my legs or on the floor. Eventually my dog got to it and chewed it up totally. I presume he was also thinking of nachos.
That’s really only a safe assumption for any dog at any time .
My next attempt was to somewhat adjust my pillow. If I slept with my head just so, perhaps that would alleviate the strain on my windpipe, and I’d be exhaling like a champ and sleeping like the dead. At least, that’s what about a half-dozen websites insured me. Just prop that pillow up, Felix. Easy-peasy!
I don’t know what you do at night when you’re sleeping, but for me it’s a constant battle between reality and the forces of inane bullshittery in my head. More than once, I have come awake mid-sentence calling person a shitheel or a douche wagon and ready to fight. Other periods, I’m only on the opposite side of the bed I went to sleep on, semi-cocooned in sheets and sweating profusely. Whatever I do at night, it’s busy shit. I’m a human on the go all the time. So no, positioning my pillow just so won’t work if midway through the night I need to use that pillow to mute a dream-gunshot when I’m trying to dream-kill some snoops in my villa.
“Don’t you mean ‘dream-spies in your dream-villa? ‘”
“You heard what I said.”
Fact is, home remedies for this kind of shit don’t run, unless you’re already dead.
# 1. You Require To Not Panic
If you don’t have sleep apnea, “youre supposed to” don’t take it very seriously. I didn’t either, because as we’ve established, it sounds lame. I can sleep just fine, thanks. Then one day, at about 4 a.m ., I woke up like I’d only been shot. It was one of those movie scenes when someone anxieties awake from a nightmare, only sitting bolt upright, eyes broad, mouth open screaming. Except I didn’t have a nightmare and I wasn’t screaming. I couldn’t holler. My throat had shut totally, and I was wholly unable to breathe in or out. So I was caught there, half dazed from being completely asleep a second before, in a pitch-black room, alone and effectively succumbing. I tried very hard to breathe. I recollect the feeling of trying to force it, to suck in and feel my throat like thin rubber sucking down against the pressure but not giving in.
Another pull and something fluttered, like the end of a balloon when you’re trying to attain fart sounds — only a little bit of air. It squeaked past the seal, but the effort to get onto in there seemed to be expensing me more than I was getting in.
Why is there never a middle-school bully around to sock you in the belly when you need one ?
Two steps from my bed to the bedroom door. I was dizzy. The doorknob was stuck — my door jamb is a little crooked and the door doesn’t fit perfectly right. Some days, you need to give it a good yank. Another pulling to try to breathe. The barest squeal of air. I yanked the door. Too hard. Too fast. It is coming at me and I lost my balance, fell on the floor, and smashed my head on the end of my bed. I recollect guessing, “I’m going to die in a piling of my own dirty laundry.”
I woke up again in the morning. I had a big-ass clump on my head and my breathing was penalty. I don’t know how. I sat up a minute and did the usual “holy shit” thing you do in a situation after realise you didn’t die as much as you thought you were going to. Then I wondered how long it would have been before person find me there if I had died.
Probably Sallie Mae after the first missed pay, if only to loot my corpse for one last late fee .
The next time this same damn thing happened was when I decided I needed one of those fucking machines. But they don’t give them to you right away. The process is so goddamn long. And in the interim, I got to experience what I like to think of as the Junior-grade near-death experience. It’s not quite as awful as waking up totally unable to breathe, but it does have its perks.
The Junior-grade near-death experience woke me up in much the same way as the near-death experience did, only this time I could inhale. It was just harder, and I was choking. Choking on what? Hell, I don’t know. Maybe I tried to eat my pillow. But I was choking profusely and having a hard time catching my breath. I sat up, tried to get all zen and soothe, and then it reached me. During one particularly nasty bout of coughing, I felt something creep up the back of my throat. Nothing so sinister as alien parasites or the hand of a Japanese revenge demon. It was more of a thickness. A sulphurous, salty, meaty presence.
I didn’t even recollect sleeping with Al Pacino .
I built my way to the bathroom, handily next to my bedroom, and lifted the eyelid on the lavatory just in time to coughing forth a slurry of viscous, twilight detest chum. A concoction of all I’d eaten that day, plus a heady garnish of acidic devilry. It savor like chicken porridge and vinegar being pushed straight from my gullet out of my face by a tiny, goat-hoofed detest fury.
So the puke thing isn’t the best, and it’s only happened a few periods. But human is it the kind of thing you don’t want to repeat. So every time you do repeat it, you curse it a little more.
Much like sleeping with Al Pacino .
Basically, you’re going to want to learn how to wear that stupid mask all night, and maybe take some drug for your blood pressure, lose some weight, get more workout, stop sniffing glue, don’t litter — the whole nine yards. Then, maybe you can sleep properly.