because after thirteen years of marriage and six children, He has provided smockdaddy and i with perfect "natural and virtuous" birth control. it's called a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for "continuous positive airway pressure," and that is what the machine provides for people with sleep apnea. wearing it looks something like this:
now, imagine waking up in a dark bedroom in the middle of the night next to someone wearing this contraption. you might just jump out of your skin, wet yourself, or both!
of course, there is the sexier version like mine:
okay, maybe it isn't really sexier. unfortunately, it doesn't get much better than this. when i first saw my "mask" (actually it's a small tube that fits under the nose which is made especially for claustrophobes like me) i actually shouted an explative at the poor tech. i'm sorry. but i'm only thirty-five! i can't wear this. jeff, my tech, didn't miss a beat. you wanna see thirty-six? my stats showed that i was only breathing about forty to forty-five minutes of every hour. scary. it may be ugly, but it's better than i'd look dead.
as you may have guessed by now, i was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. apnea can be a very serious sleep disorder that, given enough time, makes you feel like you're always exhausted, cranky, and even worse, you might be afraid that you are losing your mind. i didn't start taking my symptoms seriously until i started falling asleep when i shouldn't, like rocking the boys or waiting in the doctor's office -- any time i was sitting still.
what took so long? i kept telling everyone that i was sleepy all the time and seriously forgetful and the response was usually the same. of course you're exhausted, you have six children!
but it wasn't the crankiness, the forgetfulness, the waking up with heart palpitations, the feelings of fear and paranoia that finally did it. it wasn't until i started to fall asleep while driving that i realized i had to do something about it. i couldn't be responsible for killing someone while driving. my beautiful wee ones deserved more.
i’m listing a few signs and symptoms here. if you think you might have sleep apnea, get it checked out. this isn’t just about being drowsy, it’s downright dangerous. how’s that for some awesome alliteration? here are some signs and symptoms:
excessive daytime sleepiness (includes falling asleep in a nonstimulating environment like reading in a quiet room and falling asleep in a stimulating environment like at a business meeting or while having “well, you know”), nonrestorative sleep, automobile accidents (“drowsy driver syndrome”), personality changes, decreased memory, erectile dysfunction, and depression. many times a person with sleep apnea has a spouse who complains about their snoring or who has witnessed an apneic event.
people with apnea will often wake up with morning headaches and complain that they feel like they didn’t sleep at all. also, if they take a nap, they may feel worse afterwards than if they hadn’t napped. also, if you have insomnia (which i had) it could be because your body is afraid to fall asleep – apnea puts your body in survival mode.
chronic sleep disorders are being linked to hypertension, strokes, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. if this doesn’t scare you into seeing a sleep specialist, it should.
i've been shocked by how many people i know who already use a CPAP. i guess it isn't something people want to talk about because it isn't altogether a sexy subject. but, i don't mind; so, feel free to email me for more information or links to resources.