Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sleep Apnea, and Darth Vader


Nothing is quite so boring and depressing than writing a blog about one’s health problems, which is why I usually don’t. But today I will make an exception because the cure for this particular health problem is something that I desperately need to openly mock. Perhaps by heaping upon it mounds of ridicule, snide remarks and sarcasm, I will be less repulsed by the thing. So, here goes.

About 15 years ago, my doctor became convinced that I had sleep apnea. He convinced me to go have a “sleep study”, which involved going to this office building at 10 o’clock at night, being hooked up to ten machines, with electrodes attached to every square inch of my chest, and the being told to relax and go to sleep. While doing so, I was filmed and observed by a guy in a lab coat in some other room down the hall. The next morning, I was given a thick printout and told to take it to my doctor for analysis. It was determined that I indeed had rather severe sleep apnea. Then, my doctor introduced me to the cure, a loud and beastly machine the size of a mail box that would sit at my bedside, to which I would be tethered by a six foot long unwieldy tube. This tube would snake and kink its way from this machine to a Darth Vader look-alike mask that covered my entire head. Pressurized air would somehow be shot through this tube into my nasal passages curing me of sleep apnea and insuring years and years of peaceful sleep. I took one look at this death star device and couldn’t stop laughing. Thanks, but no thanks.

15 years later, I suppose I still have sleep apnea and I’m still alive, so clearly all the doctors were idiots. Only problem is, every morning I wake up feeling as if I have just run a marathon. Pam woke up the other night from a dream and couldn’t get back to sleep and witnessed my feeble and desperate attempts at breathing and sleep at 3 am in the morning and became concerned. This time, my “sleep study” was performed in my home with just a couple of belts around my chest and no lab coated creeper lurking about down the hall. The results were unchanged. I still have sleep apnea, and a pretty serious case of it.

I will here clearly admit that the past 15 years has brought much technological advancement in this area of medicine. The bedside device is now the size of a clock radio. The masks are smaller, lighter and dare I say…more stylish? The air pressure pumping through the tube is quieter, the entire experience much less intrusive and cumbersome, or so I’m told by the slick salesmen at American Home Products, the “industry leader in sleep apnea devices”.

Still, the thought of being hooked up to a breathing machine every night isn’t exactly the stuff of sweet dreams. My brother in law has been a huge help since he has been using the very same machine for several years now and raves about the results ie…feels rested and energetic every morning, no longer snores etc.., doesn’t fall asleep in meetings anymore.

So, I suppose I will give this contraption a try, although there’s no law that says I have to like it. But the first time Pam says, “ssshshshshshshs, Luke, I’m your father. Sssshshshshshshs…”, that’s it, I’ll be done!