The sleep of the just

Ed
Ed Smith
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Some time ago I met a man who suffers from sleep apnea. So do I, which was why I was interested in his case. Many people have this problem, but his was a particularly sad story.

Because of the snoring that often accompanies this condition, he lost first a girlfriend of several years' standing, and after that a wife. To make matters worse, he lost both within a week of each other.

The view from here -

Some time ago I met a man who suffers from sleep apnea. So do I, which was why I was interested in his case. Many people have this problem, but his was a particularly sad story.

Because of the snoring that often accompanies this condition, he lost first a girlfriend of several years' standing, and after that a wife. To make matters worse, he lost both within a week of each other.

Sleep apnea is no laughing matter. I know people who have died from it in the prime of life. I know people who suffer from it every night without doing anything about it. They are living on the edge.

One of the problems associated with sleep apnea is that the sufferer tends to talk a great deal in his sleep. I use the male pronoun here because that's the gender for which this activity holds the most danger. Evidently the talking comes from the person not being able to sleep soundly.

A simple glance across your bed at your Significant (or Insignificant) Other should be a reminder of the dangers associated with that activity. Would you like the soundtrack of your more lurid dreams to be played in stereophonic sound over a loudspeaker in your bedroom every second night?

Anyway, this particular chap I know of had the misfortune to call out the name of his new paramour (girlfriend) shortly after she and he had begun the activities associated with paramours. Actually, he said nothing except her name, but he repeated it over and over. It began with the gentle whisper of paramour foreplay and continued with rising decibels until it reached a crescendo of passion, more or less, and fell away into satiated paramour afterglow.

The Significant Other allowed this dramatic presentation to go on until the bitter end. If you're thinking the word "bitter" isn't appropriate, you haven't waited to hear the lady's reaction. She slipped out of bed and tip-toed to the kitchen in search of what most of us would call a weapon.

She returned to the bedroom with what males would regard as the foulest of intentions, but made the mistake of waking her beloved to explain exactly what she was going to do and why. He didn't wait around for the full explanation and departed the premises in some haste, thankful to escape with the family jewels intact.

The whole sordid mess ended up in divorce court and he moved in temporarily with the paramour in question. "Temporarily," because she soon went back to an old boyfriend and left him in a rather lonely bed where talking in his sleep wasn't a problem. I'm told the missus wanted him back, but he's afraid to go. Wonder why.

Anyway, I talked to another man at some length to see if had tried anything new. His answer was that he had tried everything new and a few things that were not. I listened carefully.

What drove him to the technology involved in prevention of sleep apnea was a sore side, especially in the morning. He puzzled about this for some time and tried to establish a causal relationship between the apnea and his side. In desperation, he went to see his doctor who ordered X-rays. This confirmed that he had badly bruised ribs.

Under close questioning by the doctor and a local judge, his wife admitted to digging him hard in the ribs with her elbow every time his uvula started to quiver. Her elbow was protected by an NHL-style elbow pad lined with fighter jet fuselage aluminum, or seemed like it.

My friend heard of a contraption called a C-PAP machine. This is a machine that pumps air through a mask fitted over the nose and supposedly keeps the mouth closed and the nose open. In this way, air bypasses that stuff in your throat that makes you snore and lose your breath and causes your heart to do funny things to wake you up.

That sounded good, until he told me that for him it worked about as well as a vasectomy on a eunuch. Then they told him about a larger mask that covers mouth and nose and, in theory, should do the job on both mouth and nose much more efficiently than the smaller thingy.

It didn't. Perhaps it would have, had the sleeper or sleepee not taken to tearing off the mask during the night hours. This had two direct results.

First, his face looked as though it had been through a meat grinder, what with the wearing and tearing and rough edges. Second, as the mask loosened around his face the air rushing in and out would make very loud and sometimes vulgar noises. This would awaken his wife who would often be tempted to go to the kitchen to search of a knife in order to perform rough and somewhat painful surgery.

In vain would my friend protest next morning that he hadn't been fooling with the mask last night. His face, unfortunately, would give him away.

So, where does that leave me? I'll 'fess up and tell you. I went and got one of those full-face masks, larger than the one worn by the Toronto Maple Leaf goalies and hopefully more effective. The Leaf goalies can't see through theirs.

The equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane blows through my mask when it goes over my face. It makes more racket than a tornado parked directly over the house. To my surprise, my kindly neighbours have not yet demanded the removal of the machine or me or both.

I'm told I don't snore, but I talk non-stop, recite poetry at length and sing a blue streak - sometimes all three in one night. I tell her she's blessed to have a husband who sings to her in bed! For some reason, she doesn't look terribly thankful.

I'm fortunate I don't have a paramour.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Organizations: NHL

Geographic location: Springdale

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