As the headline above suggests, I have indeed been a zombie for the past two weeks, if of the non-brain-eating variety. You see, my six-year-old CPAP machine was slowly dying and—with it—my will to live.
Okay, so that’s overstating things a wee bit, but not by much. Like millions of middle-aged men I have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Unlike most of those men, I was diagnosed in my late twenties and have slept with the aid of CPAP for the past fifteen years. My body weight and a “from-the-factory” deviated
septum combined put me in the ranks of those who have the worst form of OSA. When attempting to sleep without CPAP I have “episodes” about 150 times in an hour. This means I stop breathing about two-and-a-half times a minute. It’s followed by my brain waking me so I can breathe. The bottom line is that I am virtually incapable of un-assisted sleep.
I once fell asleep during a Metallica concert. That is what OSA can do to you.
Despite how all of this sounds, I’ve managed to get along just fine with OSA and have travelled much of the world with my trusty CPAP in tow. (It’s made me very popular with the TSA, BTW.) But three weeks ago I had a few “falling asleep at the wheel” scares and have had all sorts of problems just trying to stay coherent. In the mid-afternoons, I would be enveloped in a psychic fog that no amount of caffeine would penetrate. (Believe me, I tried.) It turns out that, after nearly 17,000 hours of helping me sleep, my CPAP was giving up the ghost bit by bit. I was getting the equivalent of two hours of sleep a night. As the machine deteriorated, so did the situation.
This is why I’ve been silent for two weeks. Now, after a Polysomnograph (sleep study), and lining all the medical insurance waterfowl in a rectilinear fashion, I have a new CPAP machine and I am nominally conscious once more.
I actually consider myself very fortunate to have had this happen now, instead of just after Baby Girl Vazquez is born. Can you imagine? It would be just like me to put kibble out for the baby and bottle-feed one of the Chihuahuas.