By Anthony Del Broccolo
the 3 hours I was studied, I experienced one hundred and eighty-seven
of these heart-pounding, brain-taxing, breathless episodes.
wonder I always felt so tired! I stop breathing more than once a
minute every time I sleep! Maybe if I cured this Apnea thing, I'd
stop sleeping so much and start living a productive life! I suddenly
found myself experiencing an unfamiliar sensation -- I believe you
normal people refer to it as "hope."
doctor must have sensed that hope and I aren't very comfortable
together, because I swore I saw a smile creep across his face as
he revealed the two primary treatments for Sleep Apnea.
first is to wear a contraption called a C-Pap. A C-Pap, short for
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, is a machine that forces air
into a person's throat through a mask while they sleep.
was the better of the two options.
second would have involved a surgeon literally carving out a hunk
of my soft pallet to make nighttime breathing easier. I opted for
I was in the privacy of my bathroom, I tried on the C-Pap for the
first time. I started by strapping on the mask. It was a little
tight, but not too uncomfortable. I then inserted the two "nasal
pillows" into my nostrils. This felt a little strange, but
I was glad to see my nose finally get the pampering it deserved.
I made a huge mistake: I looked in the mirror.
my brain was able to make sense of the space-age scuba gear strapped
to my skull, and the nasal pillows jutting angrily from my nostrils,
I was actually able to see my chances of ever getting laid again
evaporate right before my eyes.
think about it, even if I was able to trick a girl into sleeping
with me, what was I going to do afterwards? Is there anything that
could possibly kill the afterglow more than inserting nasal pillows
and strapping on a C-Pap mask?!
I could always take my chances without the Pap -- but then I ran
the risk of subjecting my hypothetical lover to the disturbing sounds
my giant trombone of a schnozz would produce while she tried to
between the C-Pap and my snoring wasn't the most difficult decision
a human being ever faced, but for a self-absorbed, sex-starved dude
like me, this was Sophie's Choice. As I continued to stare
at my reflection, wearing that hideous mask and contemplating my
sexless future, I actually started to hate myself. The mirror turned
into a giant magnifying glass through which I could see all my flaws
projected in very vivid detail.
myself for having to wear a mask to help me sleep. I hated myself
for being depressed. I hated my huge nose and my pale skin. I even
hated my medicine cabinet for being stocked with Lithium and Lipitor
and Effexor and Wellbutrin. Eventually, I started to hate myself
for hating myself so much, and walked away from the mirror.
first nights sleeping with the Pap were awful. The mask's unwieldy
construction made it difficult to fall asleep. And when I was able
to catch a few winks, I got bloody noses from the dry air being
shot up my nostrils.
about two weeks of struggling, however, I woke up one morning feeling
something I hadn't felt in years -- refreshed. And soon, after about
10 similar nights, I literally felt like a new man. I was energized,
and began attacking life with a renewed sense of purpose and vigor.
One might even go so far as to say there was a new cut to my jib.
If one was a douche bag.
Then one morning, I realized something. I had been looking into
the mirror and hating myself long before I ever strapped on a C-Pap.
That switch in my brain had been flipped years ago. I can't pinpoint
the exact moment, but it was most likely around the time my Mom
caught me practicing kissing on her favorite throw pillow from Ethan
particular morning, however, I didn't see myself as a loser because
of my depression, or how many pills I took, or any physical flaws.
I was a loser because I let these problems define me, and an even
bigger loser for simply trying to sleep these problems away. But
mostly I was a loser because I still practiced kissing on pillows.
is now three years later and I no longer use the C-Pap. Thanks to
the discovery of yet another problem -- teeth grinding -- my dentist
designed a retainer-like device that keeps my jaw from going slack
and obstructing my airway while I sleep. It's smaller than the C-Pap,
much less cumbersome, and let me tell you, ladies, it's hoooooottt.
that I no longer suffer from Sleep Apnea, I rarely take naps and
I haven't fallen asleep driving again. But best of all, I've stopped
hating myself. I now channel all my newfound energy into something
much more productive and distinctly more American -- hating everyone
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