I’ve always been a snorer, though I never felt as though it affected my quality of sleep. Or, at least, not directly. But so potent are my snores that, even at an early age, I’d often find myself in bed, in the dark, staring face-to-face with a quietly irate sibling or a camp bunkmate as they shook my shoulder and whisper-screamed at me, “YOU’RE SNORING.”
“How can I be snoring?!” I’d think. “I’m not even asleep yet!”
And then there’s the story from a few hockey seasons ago, when the whole team shared a house for a weekend. One night, some noisy neighbors drove me from an air mattress in the living room to the floor of a room where the Harribles were already fast asleep. As Mrs. Harrible tells it—and keeping in mind that Mr. Harrible is 6’5” and not a skinny fella—she awoke, despite her earplugs, to some serious log-sawing. At the moment she realized the ruckus wasn’t coming from her husband, he giggled. I’d woken them both up, but in the morning I felt as though I hadn’t slept a wink. I am a titan of inadvertent unconscious noisemaking.
So about a year ago, I underwent a sleep study. Pa’s got sleep apnea, anyway, and uses a CPAP machine. It’s supposed to be a dreadfully damaging condition, too, and even if it’s mild, it’s bound to get worse throughout the course of your life. Best to address it now.
They noted “some instances of apnea.”
But through a series of missed phone calls and apathy, the issue sat for a year. A month or so ago, I finally got around to jump-starting it and had to schedule another sleep test—this time to “fit” my CPAP machine and adjust it to the proper air pressure. Still not a fun undertaking—especially as I was strapped to the same number of wires and now sporting a scuba-like facemask—but I did sleep a little better, at least. They noted that I “did well” with the machine, and a week ago I took home my very own CPAP.
It took a while—due in part to nervousness and a lack of grounded outlets in our house—but last night I finally gave the thing a go.
Yeah, I don’t like it.
It could be that I went with a nose-only mask instead of the nose-and-mouth behemoth I wore at the study place. The bigger one is more likely to lose its seal as your jaw moves around, but it lets you breathe through your mouth; the smaller one requires you to (and makes it easier to) keep your mouth shut, but I’m still not sure if my pesky sinuses are down for that—especially when you throw in first-night jitters. I managed to keep it on for just two hours before I got frustrated and took it off.And this thing is supposed to be every night, forever.
But I’m not sure if I should admit that perhaps the biggest issue is self-consciousness. If I lived alone, I’d have more patience, but I share a home—and a bed—with CCB, and frankly, I still like being able to say good night to him, being able to throw an arm over his chest, being able to smile at him when we wake up forehead-to-forehead. Last night, I felt like an astronaut—and about as far away, too.
I understand that everyone goes through unflattering medical situations, and Lord knows my snoring wasn’t sexy to begin with. (For the record, CCB has complained neither about my snoring nor about my new nighttime fashion.) It’s just hard that this feels so…optional. Maybe if I try it for a bit and get used to it and actually feel the difference it makes in my sleep, then maybe it’ll be easier to take.
But right now it just feels like a major inconvenience in what’s supposed to be the most relaxing part of my day.
(I did just learn about a dental device that may make major improvements in sleep apnea, in addition to teeth grinding and maybe even sinus issues. That’s a potential miracle I’m keeping an eye on.)