Sleep apnea, sleep apnoea or sleep apnœa is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. These episodes, called apneas (literally, “without breath”), each last long enough so one or more breaths are missed, and occur repeatedly throughout sleep. The standard definition of any apneic event includes a minimum 10 second interval between breaths, with either a neurological arousal (3-second or greater shift in EEG frequency, measured at C3, C4, O1, or O2), or a blood oxygen desaturation of 3-4 percent or greater, or both arousal and desaturation. Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram.

Sounds like a fun time, doesn’t it? I can assure, after having lived with the aforementioned condition, that it is most certainly not a fun time. At all. Sleep apnea is like having someone shake you awake, gently, several times a night, but not to the point of you actually becoming lucid enough to say “DAMN, GINA! Let a brotha SLEEP!” It’s just enough for you to lunge, gasp for air (since you stop breathing), maybe let out a snort or two, fart loudly (Lies. Vicious lies.), and go back to sleep, only to repeat it again in about 10 minutes or so. When you wake up in the morning, you feel as though you were running the Boston Marathon while being chased by Klansmen whose white sheets got washed with a red towel. It’s exhausting, and half the time you’re not even aware of it, except on the few occasions when your snoring is so loud, you think there’s an intruder in the house. Or a heffalump.

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea about 9 years ago, and underwent one of those polysomnogram deals, where you go to a hospital at night, and they put electrodes and shit all over your body, and they tell you “OK, go to sleep now! We’ll just be monitoring your BP / heart rate / breathing / credit score from this little room over here, and nevermind that camera watching your every move. Don’t go scratching those balls, now!” It’s a tad bit uncomfortable, to say the least, ’cause you REALLY wanna scratch your balls then. After the poly-whatever, they told me I had the apnea, and put me on something called a CPAP machine, which I’m convinced stands for “Certified to Prevent your Ass from SleePing”. It’s a machine that pushes a steady stream of air down a hose and into your nose, by way of a jet fighter’s mask attached to your face like the baby aliens from the “Alien” movies. You’re supposed to strap this bullshit on, turn on the machine (which is the opposite of quiet), and go to sleep with a flow of cold-ass air forcing its way up your nostrils. The air is supposed to stop your soft palette from dropping into your throat, which makes the snoring. At any rate, the damn thing works, until your body says “That’s about enough of that” in the middle of the night, and takes it off your face without you even knowing you did it. It’s a pain, but the other options are surgical, and more importantly, not covered by insurance (thanks for nothing, Cigna. Oh – thanks for knocking out that appendectomy bill, though. Mad props). So there’s that.

Anyway, 9 years later, the hoses for the machine rotted out, and I wasn’t about to put that hot mess on my grill. But not using the machine made the apnea worse (I said “the apnea” like it’s the gout. I’m so damn country sometimes), so I knew I had to do something about it. There’s a place in Dallas called The Snoring Center, and from the name, I knew they didn’t sell hotcakes, so I went. In the 9 years since I got my last polywannacracker, some marvelous medical advances have been made to stop snoring and apnea, other than kicking the guy in the ribs while he’s sleeping. Check it:

One cause of sleep apnea is the soft palate that vibrates during snoring and can block the airway. In the Pillar Procedure, inserts are injected into the soft palate to offer support. These three tiny inserts are invisible, and should not be felt or cause any difficulty in swallowing or in talking.

Yeeeeeeah, boy! That’s what I wanted. It’s out-patient, takes about 10 minutes, and you can go back to work afterward with few side effects. Sign me up! The only problem is that (a) it’s not covered by insurance, and (b) it costs $2400. Up front. Yeah, no. What WAS covered, according to Dr. Zzzz, was surgery, where he would cut out the back of my soft palette and my uvula. Fuck that. I NEED my li’l hangy ball! Plus it’s a long, painful recovery, and having just had my appendectomy, I’m not in the market for a long painful recovery again just yet. The last option he gave me, which is indeed covered by insurance?

CPAP.

My old nemesis.

So I went in Wednesday night for another polyperpendicular, thinking I knew how it would all go down. And you know, I’m not even going to talk about it – I’m gonna tell my story…in pictures.

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See all this S&M gear? All that had to attach to me in various spots. And are you loving the pink bedspread? I sure did.

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This, friends, is a CPAP machine. No, not the black thing. That’s something called a “telephone”. That circle on the front of the CPAP is where the hose goes to your nose and flows. Air. I couldn’t come up with another rhyme. I didn’t use that this time – that’ll come next week, when I go back.

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Say hi to the camera, folks. This is the mechanism by which my captors watched me not scratching my balls. Or do other things.

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This lovely contraption is where all those wires eventually connect. I had to carry it around like a new Prada purse. I had connectors all over my face, in my nose, on my chest, on my back, and down my legs. I looked like a marionette.

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Or like this. Unshaven, needing a haircut in the worst way. And looking tired, which I was. This is how I had to sleep, with that long bundle of wires behind my head like a medical ponytail. God, I look rough in this pic. Oh well.

So, finally, I laid down and tried to get comfortable, which was as close to impossible as Micheal Vick getting a humanitarian award. But eventually I drifted off into slumber…only to be awakened.

Tech: “Mr. Damian, I’m sorry to wake you…sensor #3 isn’t working and I need to replace it.”
Me: “Msdpm sap fwkjwkj fwpf?”
Tech: “No sir, it’s not morning yet. Turn your head for me, and I’ll switch this out real quick.”
Me: “Mmds kay.”

And he does this, and I manage to get back to sleep. About 2 hours later, scene one repeats itself.

Tech: “Mr. Damian? I’m really sorry, but we’re having a hard time getting a reading on #3 again. I’ll need to switch it out once more.”
Me: “mkmwk fuck you mlkml;km.”
Tech: “I’m sorry? I didn’t catch that…”
Me: “mmmkay sklejl kl fucker.”
Tech: “Very good – it’ll just take a second.”

He made the switch, AGAIN, and I AGAIN somehow managed to fall asleep without committing bodily harm. The rest of the night was uneventful, except for a weird dream about Pinocchio punching the shit out of weeble-wobble shaped like a nurse. Go figure.

I have to go back next Thursday, this time to be connected to the sinister CPAP and monitor and titrated or whatever. I have no idea what the results were for my first night of the polyamory – the doctor wasn’t in when I rolled out in the morning. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough. Hey, anyone wanna donate to the Buy Damian A Pillar Procedure fund? Just think of the children.

Peace.

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