Observations and Ramblings from a Cranky Old Guy
Written by Jeff Spaulding on April 29, 2021
Let’s call this a cautionary tale.
That said, it’s certainly nothing to lose sleep over.
Opening question, do you, a loved one or a friend snore?
When I say snore, I don’t mean the occasional “I got wasted and passed out” snore.
No, I mean the loud as Penn Station snore.
The kind that can shatter walls, cause the earth to open up, and lead to sleepless nights
to anyone in the bed, or (potentially), in the rest of the house.
As I learned years ago, that kind of snoring can prove deadly.
I know, I found that out over 20 years ago.
And while I thought I was over the problem; it appears to have raised its ugly head.
It’s called Sleep Apnea
As defined by WebMD:
“Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep.
People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep,
sometimes hundreds of times.
This means the brain, and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.”
I first started noticing “something” in the early 90’s, when on occasion I would fall asleep while driving.
Problem is, my eyes were COMPLETELY open, and I just started to drift, I was lucky and “came out of it” in time.
In the late 90’s it got much worse.
I would wake up in the middle of the night and COULD NOT BREATHE!
It was like getting punched in the gut, I could not inhale OR exhale.
I had to “chill out and namaste” so I could breathe again.
I talked with my doctor, he told me about Sleep Apnea, some of the signs:
Being male (check)
Being overweight (double check)
Being over age 40 (triple check)
Having a large neck size, 17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women (quadruple check)
Needless to say, I was screwed.
The doctor says there were two options, minor surgery (which COULD have affected my voice, and since I make my living WITH said voice, I chose option B.
A device called a CPAP machine, you wear it at night, air is forced up the nose, opening
things up for better sleep, no/less snoring, and hopefully, no death.
Took a couple weeks to get used to wearing it, and I’m here to tell you it WORKED!
There are different kinds of masks to wear, one covers both the nose and mouth, which I started with.
The other covers just the nose and I absolutely HATED it, it seemed to cause a “vacuum” in my mouth, and every time I opened my mouth, it was like I was vacuum sealing a can of Green Giant peas.
This started for me in (I think) 1998, for the next 15 years or so I wore it faithfully. My only issue was in warm weather, when it felt like I was getting hot air blown directly on me.
Then one day I tried an experiment and slept without it.
Did pretty well, so I kept going “maskless.”
I had lost a bunch of weight, and overall, my health had improved.
Then sometime last year my wife began complaining of the “freight train” snoring coming back.
Back to WebMD, if Sleep Apnea is not treated properly, here’s what can happen:
“High blood pressure (yup, runs in the family)
Stroke (not yet)
Heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks (see 2020 heart attack and bypass)
Diabetes (see high blood pressure)
Depression (right now only when I see my paycheck)
Worsening of ADHD (I have been accused of being very “Rain Man” like)
Headaches (see depression)
In truth, I have been ignoring the inevitable.
I did try a mask that kept my jaw in place.
I did try a little “thingie” that I put in my nose to “open it up.”
Unfortunately, I am 0-2.
To help my wife, I decided (she decided for me?) to spend my nights on the back-bedroom bed, or (if the grandkids stay over) the couch.
As of this writing (April 15th), next week I see a pulmonary expert for a consultation,
which will probably lead to another “sleep study,” where I go to a clinic and get “wired up” and attempt to have a peaceful night’s sleep, after that, results will (probably) show I need to get back to the mask.
It’s a pain, but consider the alternative.
SO, back to the initial question about snoring.
At minimum, do some web searching on Sleep Apnea.
It won’t hurt to check with your doctor.
It may actually hurt if you don’t.
Now, I’m tired, and need a nap.
With luck, it won’t be a dirt one.
Be hearing you