FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Current Essays FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Contributors FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//About FRESH YARN FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Past Essays FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Submit FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Links FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Email List FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Contact


Pap and Circumstance
By Anthony Del Broccolo

During the 3 hours I was studied, I experienced one hundred and eighty-seven of these heart-pounding, brain-taxing, breathless episodes.

Holy shit.

No 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."

My 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.

The 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.

This was the better of the two options.

The second would have involved a surgeon literally carving out a hunk of my soft pallet to make nighttime breathing easier. I opted for the C-Pap.

Once 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.

Then I made a huge mistake: I looked in the mirror.

After 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.

I mean 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?!

Sure, 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 sleep.

Deciding 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.

I hated 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.

The 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.

After 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 Allen.

This 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.

It 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.

Now 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 else.

PAGE 1 2

-friendly version for easy reading
©All material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission

home///current essays///contributors///about fresh yarn///archives///
submit///links///email list///site map///contact
© 2004-2005