Thursday, February 4, 2010

Leave it to Wheezer

Hi kids, today we're going to talk about a sleep disorder commonly known as sleep apnea.  Due to obstructions in the air passage (normally caused by excess neck flab, which is a pleasant thought) sleep apnea sufferers (or "apneapolitans") stop breathing as many as thirty times an hour, all night long.  Not just snore, mind you, they actually STOP BREATHING for up to a minute at a time.  When the breathing resumes, it is usually accompanied by a loud "schnock"-like sound, a gasp, or mild-to-moderate choking. Needless to say, this symphony of snoring often infuriates those who are sleeping within the same ZIP code.

But it's not all fun and games.  As you'd imagine, people who suffer from apnea don't sleep very soundly.  Since they are jolted awake every time their lungs frantically gasp for air, they never settle into REM sleep, the deep sleep in which our dreams are accompanied by the song "Losing My Religion."  This leaves the apneapolitans exhausted all day long, and as a result, they often doze off while reading, watching TV, or typing on the compufdsoias;vl;/./..............

:::snort...hack...SCHNOCK!:::::

Sorry.  Where was I?

As you may have guessed, I suffer from this disorder.  That is, I used to until I decided to go to the doctor for treatment, the word "decided," of course meaning "went to the doctor because Theresa threatened to set me on fire in my sleep if I didn't."  Threats like this, by the way, are not uncommon.  While sleep apnea is known to create health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease, most apnea-related deaths are caused by a sleep-deprived spouse or significant other murdering the apnea-sufferer in a fit of homicidal rage.  Historically, the courts have considered this type of murder "totally justifiable."

The treatment for sleep apnea is a device called a CPAP machine.  The CPAP (or as I affectionately refer to it, "Wheezer") is a pump, connected by a flexible plastic tube to a face mask.  The mask is similar in appearance to the one worn by Maverick in the classic film Top Gun.  In fact, the first night I wore it I rolled over, looked at Theresa, and said, "Tower, this is Ghostrider, requesting a fly-by."

"Negative, Ghostrider, the pattern is full."

After the first night with Wheezer my life was changed.  I wasn't tired during the day anymore.  I didn't doze off, I had more energy, and I wasn't quite the insufferable prick that I usually am.  The change happened, literally, over night.  Sleeping with a mask on takes some getting used to, and it's not always comfortable, but it's a hell of a lot better than being woken up by acid reflux and gagging on your own bile (another fun side effect).

All kidding aside, sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder and if left untreated can cause severe health problems.  I waited far too long to get it taken care of and as a result spent two years functioning at a significantly lower level than normal.  If you know someone with sleep apnea -- the guy sleeping on the couch making sounds like a constipated water buffalo, for example -- talk to him about going to the doctor.  It'll be one of the most important things you ever do for him.

And if he won't listen to reason, just threaten to kill him to death.  It worked for me.


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26 comments:

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Actually, a very well written health post. Thank you.

Jenn Thorson said...

Gee, funny-- AND a public service message. We KNEW you cared about us, Knucklehead! :)

PS- How have you resisted the Darth Vader jokes with that mask?.... Or have you?

Suldog said...

Think you may have already seen this, but if you haven't...

http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com/2009/03/fartball-anyone.html

The greater portion was written by my swell pal, Cricket (then going by the pseudonym of Donatello.) Also about C-PAP.

And now I'm on my way to tell HIM about YOU!

Eva Gallant said...

My husband uses a C-Pap machine also. He's had one for around 15 years. Before he was diagnosed, he used to fall asleep everywhere; even on the john. I used to worry when he was driving. It has made a huge difference to him and the quality of our lives.

Moooooog35 said...

If you rub the machine on your face is it called a CPAP Smear?

Thank you.

I'm here all week.

Sadly.

GoingLikeSixty.com said...

Welcome fellow hoser.
Going on 18 years for me.
Still hate it. I've dropped a bunch of weight in hopes I can get rid of the damn thing.

But you will feel better and have more energy.

Plus if you like to sleep late, it makes it easy to pull the covers over your head and still snooze.

Quirkyloon said...

"...as a result spent two years functioning at a significantly lower level than normal."

You write this like it is a bad thing.

Lower Levelers Unite!

~jill said...

i first read it as CRAP machine and thought what a horrible name for something you put on you face. i really need to get my eyes checked.....

Cricket said...

Hey Knucklehead -

Lived it to the letter - right down to the homicidal wife. As Suldog said, his swell pal "Donatello" had more to say about it. Donatello doesn't live here anymore, though.

And on a serious note, to any readers who might need this, I second everything Knucklehead has written. Go. Do the sleep study. Get one of these things and use it. You'll never regret it.

Nooter said...

hmmmm, a guy could hook the other end of that hose up to different tanks with, say, various flavored air in it, right? like maybe chocolate chip cookies or popcorn or snausages... hmmm, smells like a business opportunity here...

need a partner?!

Candice said...

I need to get one of these things for my dog. He snores way worse than my husband every thought about snoring.

nonamedufus said...

Glad you did something about it. I have a brother who had the same problem and he's much better - day and night - now that he's addressed his situation. So's his wife!

Me-Me King said...

My ex-husband suffered terribly from sleep apena. There were so many nights when he would stop breathing. As any good wife, I would shake him until he took a breath.

As our marriage began falling apart, I no longer came to his rescue, I simply rolled over and returned to la-la land. Take that you lying, cheating, scumbag!!!

Mike said...

If you get bored with the oxygen you can try a little nitrous oxide.

Homemaker Man said...

How many top Gun jokes did you get ou before your wife threatened to kill you again? I would've gone for 12 and been stopped at 6

Peter Varvel said...

I thought that the song played during deep sleep was "Shiny, Happy People" (well, it is for me, at least)

screwdestiny said...

Thanks for the informative and funny post. I know someone with sleep apnea. Luckily they don't bother me with it, but I'm sure they'd like something to help them.

Jenn said...

Years ago I worked for a company that studied sleep apnea as it related to shift workers and the effects that off hour schedules can have on the body. Never heard of this fancy machine back then though, it probably would have been a far better idea to send this out to the people involved in the study as opposed to the survey they made them answer. the office was cool, we had a nap room with a heated massage chair that I only got to use once when I came in so hungover that lunch involved nothing more than water and saltines. Ah to be young and stupid and probably reeking of gin...

Reeky said...

My kids call mine "the snorkel". When I first got it, my daughter put it on and said, "co-pilot to co-pilot, over" (she was 3 at the time).

Changed my life, saved my life (from my wife), saved my marriage (keeps wife outta jail for not killing me).

When I did my sleep study I was SO afraid of not snoring. I guess it was a weird performance anxiety. When I woke up and asked if I had snored, the room full of technicians started laughing and like a chorus said together, "OH YEAH YOU DID!"

Only 10% of those with apnea get diagnosed. And those that wear the CPAP, it works. I still hate mine (4+ years now) but it is worth all the aggravation. Sleep is nice.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

My brother suffers form the sleep apnia, but I know he has never tried this solution. He has every excuse in the book, deviated septum, congestion, etc. He was addicted to Afrin and when we were kids I always saw those Halls nasal inhalers on his dresser top.

Hmm. I bet this would also help his marriage. While they are very loving, they have not slept in the same bed for years. My brother has morphed into the "couch man" who can literally fall asleep on a picket fence because he's had to for all these years.

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

Hey, I left a comment two days ago and it disappeared! Or maybe I was dreaming......

Theresa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theresa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theresa said...

I was so happy that I didn't have to go through with the whole "murdering your ass" thingy. Love you honey!

Jules said...

True story, the CPAP is why my parents sleep in the same bed again.
(Not a pretty story, nor an appetizing one, but nonetheless true.)

Jeanne said...

I think it was more the threat of separate rooms that finally got to him.

Unfortunately, he's not seeing the big change in daytime energy you had.

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