Hypnos: Epilogue

Hypnos - In Greek Mythology, the personification of sleep (By user:shakko (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
Hypnos – In Greek Mythology, the personification of sleep
(By user:shakko (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Last night was sleep study number two. If you’re just tuning in, you can read about night one and the morning after here and here, respectively. The point of last night’s study was to test my breathing on the CPAP machine. For you laymen out there, CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Essentially, when the wearer inhales, the CPAP machine assists by forcing an amount of pressure and air into the airway, thereby preventing apnea-or more specifically in my case Obstructive Sleep Apnea. When a patient experiences OSA, his/her airway collapses, preventing oxygen from traveling to its natural habitat inside the human body, the lungs-and ultimately the blood and other organs. Hypoxemia (lack of oxygen) can effect the human body in numerous ways, including but not limited to sleep deprivation, fatigue, weight gain, seizures, heart disease, organ failure, and death. To name a few.

I went to the hospital last night expecting the same as before, electrodes and wires and sticky things stuck all over and around my body. I was fitted with these contrivances by an all too giddy therapist, taking a shot in the dark here by assuming she’s with respiratory. While attaching all these wires and whatnot, she explained the benefits and importance of using a CPAP machine when one has OSA. She described the mask to me, how it works (of this I was already vaguely familiar as my son Robot Boy is ventilator dependent). The CPAP machine I’ll use is much smaller and less complex than his vent, and I will only require it during sleep. RB is on CPAP mode during the day, but he is on the rate at night, meaning the ventilator is giving him breaths instead of simply giving him a small amount of pressure support.

After being fitted with all these niceties (used with extreme sarcasm) and taking my sleepy time medicine, I lay on my back -per the instructions of the overly giddy Paula Dean-esque therapist. It wasn’t long before I fell asleep. First there were some exercises to perform. “Turn your eyes to the left and the right,” Paula Dean said over a monitor. “Leave your eyes open for thirty seconds.” This is more difficult than it seems. “Open your mouth for ten seconds.” Breathing (and talking) while wearing the CPAP mask with the machine on is quite strenuous. Imagine having extra air pushed into your lungs while you inhale to say, ” Yes”, “That’s comfortable enough”, and “I have to go to the bathroom.” That is what’s happening.

I know I was in REM sleep for a while before I started to drown. I was underwater, a whale-shark with its gaping maw inhaling seawater instead of oxygen. My mouth was open, and I was gasping for air, but with the CPAP machine administering positive pressure, breathing through my mouth became arduous. I was suffocating. My brain told me to remove the pulse/ox on my finger to call the therapist. I did, or rather dreamed I did. Twice. Before finally waking up, chugging air down my partially collapsed airway against the positive pressure that was, at the time, less of a help and more of a hindrance.

I tore the pulse/ox from my left index finger as the therapist was coming in the door. She explained she should increase the pressure. I agreed. The thought of having more air in my lungs was splendid. Paula Dean adjusted the machine, and I lay back down, trying to recover and relax. As a lifelong insomniac, it’s not a simple task for me to wake and fall back to sleep on a dime. So for about an hour I lay there with my eyes closed trying to sleep and trying not to concentrate on the air being forced up my nose.

My back was hurting. I turned my legs to the left with my torso straight. Paula Dean came back in. “What’s the matter, darling? You’ve been awake a while.” “My back hurts.” “I thought it was your back. Do you want to lay on your side?” I said yes, and turned onto my left side with my legs pulled up. I had to pee, but I didn’t want to with all those attachments. Hoping I could ignore the need, and everything else involved, I closed my eyes hoping for more sleep.

The new position meant the mask shifted, and I had a strange farting noise resonating off my cheek and into my right ear. I adjusted my face, and the farting stopped, but it was followed by a leak of cold air that, when blowing across my face, aggravated an old cheek bone injury I’d incurred several years ago when I fell flat on my face, knocking myself unconscious. This went on for another length of time before I decided to try to adjust the mask. I did finally and closed my eyes trying to sleep again.

The sound of the machine, with its pressure forcing air into the mask, sounded like ambient ocean background noise. I imagined waves coming onto the beach and sweeping back out again. I imagined torrents crashing into high rock walls. Nothing made a difference. After however long, Paula Dean came back into the room and asked what was going on again. I admitted I had to pee. She obliged, but all the wires had to come with. After taking one of the most careful pees of my life, I returned to bed. I decided to lie on my back, assuming the corpse pose.

Corpse Pose via Yoga Journal (http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/482)
Corpse Pose via Yoga Journal (http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/482)

It worked. After just a few minutes, I fell back to sleep. I dreamed odd and vibrant dreams for about three hours before Paula Dean came in to wake me. “I let you sleep an hour later than usual since you were finally sleeping so good.” I stayed in a deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep for over an hour. “That’s a really long time!” exclaimed Paula Dean.

After brushing my teeth, using the bathroom yet again, and  filling out some paperwork, I was escorted outside to the parking lot. I said goodbye to Paula Dean and went to my car. I rolled down the windows and turned on the windshield wipers to remove the overnight condensation. I plugged my cell phone into the charger and checked Facebook (priorities!), and then I turned on the radio. Low Rider was playing. I raised the volume to an unacceptable decibal level, put on my eye patch, and drove home.

Low Rider written by Charles Miller and the band War and appearing on their 1975 album Why Can’t We Be Friends? (Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_Rider)

 

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New Old Books

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Shark Week has ended, and I must admit I am having withdrawals. It happens every year. See, I really like sharks. Like, a lot.

I’ve even acquired the moniker “Nell Shark”, given to me by my dad when I was a teen. I wasn’t only given the nickname because of my love of the carnivorous fish, but also because there was a time when I could consume anything I wanted, like a shark, and my dad would joke that I’d probably swallowed a license plate somewhere. This name was also born from a nickname given to my dad in the time of Saturday Night Live’s Land Shark sketches. He’s often called Lan, and so he became Lan Shark. Being his offspring, I suppose it was only natural that I also share the shark title. Over the years I’ve taken on more of an image of a whale-shark, but I digress.

Microsoft Free Clip Art

If reincarnation exists, I want to be a shark. I think it would be wonderful to swim freely in the ocean, at the top of the food chain, not a worry in the world. Except for, you know, commercial fishing nets, shark nets designed to protect beaches, fishermen killing you for your fins, and crazed people hunting you because they think you’re going to chomp innocent surfers and swimmers for fun. Besides all that, I think it would be real nice. I’d even make extra sure not to accidentally taste anyone, which as we all know, could result in maiming or killing them.

Speaking of hunting sharks and sharks accidentally tasting people, one of my favorite movies is Jaws. I love the movie, although I don’t love what it did for sharks. I must make an admission here, as well: I’ve never read the novel.

Used hardcover copy of Peter Benchley’s Jaws copyright 1974 Doubleday & Company, Inc.

I know. I’m sorry for my literary sin of loving a movie for so long without reading the story which inspired it. Truly repentant. My penance will be to read War and Peace twice and recite The Illiad fourteen times. I’ve never read War and Peace, either, but I imagine reading it twice would be quite the compensation for any wrongdoing.

But now, now I can claim absolution! For I have received my copy of Jaws, the novel, written by one Peter Benchley (I understand Mr. Benchley and his wife became advocates for shark conservation after seeing the anti-shark furor created by his novel and from Steven Spielberg’s movie which came out a year later) .

Back cover: Peter Benchley

And I didn’t just buy the novel, I bought a vintage (sure, why not?) hardcover copy. It’s used, not in mint condition, but in good condition. The jacket is a little torn, but the book itself is in tact. It was cheap, and it smells delicious. Ecstasy! Is anyone not excited by the smell of an old book? It’s just me, then? All right.

I was pleased and surprised when the book arrived. When I ordered it, I was under the assumption that I was ordering a used copy of a print reissued in 2005. But no! It’s the real thing, baby. Not some reissued young whippersnapper copy. I’m very happy.

To a lot of people this is a silly thing about which to become excited. Oh well. Not to Nell Sharks*.

Microsoft Free Clip Art

*My son, Robot Boy, is also a big shark fan. Even at his young age, he watches Shark Week programming, and chomps like a shark on the chewy tubes given to him by his speech therapist. Once, before he was sick, Jaws came on television. Fearing he would be afraid, I stood in front of the television as Jaws attacked some folks on a banana boat while blood filled the water. RB saw Jaws’s attack anyway, and instead of crying or getting scared, he started shouting “Rawr! Rawr!” pretending to be Jaws. His nickname is Chompy Shark.

An Undefined Number of Reasons in No Particular Order About Why I Envy Spongebob Squarepants

If I had to pick a number one reason why I envy this yellow and permeable cartoon character it would be because he loves his job so #^$%& much.

- Makin' Krabby Patties

I want to love my job that much. Everyone should be so happy just to have a job. Most of us aren’t, although we’re all quite aware that we would be living in cardboard boxes without our jobs. Even people with good jobs hate their jobs. But not this guy. Considering most of us spend more time at work that with our families, we should all be so damn elated to go there. He flips burgers and loves it. I’ve worked in fast food. I’d sell my body before I’d go back to it. It’s miserable. But somehow he loves it. He doesn’t even care that he’s mistreated by his boss.

-Spongebob Squarepants

I guess number two can be that he is happy about every damn thing all the time. Rarely is Spongebob presented in a bad mood. Except for that once when he got an abrasive side . . . . He is the picture of glee, we should all take a leaf from his book. Of course most of us can’t without the aid of prescriptions-which help, too. Any day is cause for celebration in the life of this sponge who appears to have gone down someone’s kitchen sink and drifted to the bottom of the ocean.

-Not Spongebob

The third reason is he’s a very crafty bubble blower. Yesterday my son and I sat outside blowing bubbles, and between the two of us maybe got five whole bubbles. Mostly we just blew strings of bubble solution at each other.

- Porous Pockets

My final reason: he’s super popular and his career is far more lucrative than mine will ever be!

But I don’t begrudge this sponge. I only wish that I could share his positive outlook, find beauty in simple things, and be so grateful for being alive. Although he isn’t. Because he’s a cartoon. But still.

(Spongebob Squarepants, created by Stephen Hillenburg, is a trademark of Viacom International Inc.)