Oh, Dear Lord, Who Am I?


I am a middle aged Italian woman. I know myself.

I make meatballs.

I serve chicken soup to kids with colds.

I have dark brown eyes, I used to have dark brown hair, and I have a big nose.

Yes. I do. I have grown up with the realization that I have a lovely, prominent Roman nose.

This is my identity. Italian woman, big nose, big heart, big piles of pasta. It all goes together.

Because this has been my image of myself for some 60 years, you can understand how upsetting it would be to be informed that this is not actually the real me. You can imagine my moment of disorientation when the very core of my personal belief was shaken.

Holy panic attack, Batman. It was terrifying.

This is what happened.

I went to have my CPap fitted this morning. I talked to the lovely, intelligent, articulate cPap using woman at the home care facility. She fitted me with just the right hose to force my throat open and thereby stop my snoring, snorting, gasping, death inducing nighttime routine.

I have been reading about the incidence of sleep apnea in women, and have come to feel pretty much at ease with the realization that a whole lot of us women suffer from this disorder.

I am OK with that. Sorta. I am accepting of the fact that the sleep issue does not mean that I am old and fat. I am accepting of the idea that I just need some help to keep myself breathing while I sleep. It’s just a little medical issue.

All of that is cool.

But.

While i was meeting with the lovely woman who introduced me to my machine, something happened that has shaken my entire belief in myself and who I am.

Part of the fitting today included taking a measurement of my nose.

My big old, honkin’ Roman Italian schnozzola. I needed to be measured so that the nasal mask would fit me.

I sat back for the measurement. I breathed out. I was sure that the measurement would come out as “big” or “huge” or “Italian” or “Holy shit”.

When the friendly woman held up the measurement and said, “You have a small nose”, my entire world came unglued.

What?????

WHAT??!

I mean. OK. I gasp and choke and have a fat neck and can’t sleep and I need a stupid giant machine…..but my NOSE IS SMALL???????

That was the moment when I realized that I no longer have any idea of who I am.

In all of my most fragile moments, it has never occurred to me that I might have a small nose.

Never. Ever.

Look at this picture.

Do you see a small nose????

Big. Big nose. Not small.
Not a little nose. Nuh, uh.

I don’t either.

So….who am I? What has become of my entire view of myself?

If in fact I am a woman with a small nose, might I not also be a woman with a boatload of patience? (Nope.) Or a woman who struggles to put a decent meal on the table? (Nopie, nope, nope).

I am my nose.

I am my internal view of myself.

OK, fine. I’ll give the stupid CPap a chance. But seriously?

A SMALL nose??????

These medical people have no idea what they’re doing.

The Man is a Freakin’ Saint


So. Some of you read my post about having my sleep study. Some of you even asked me to update you on the results.

Welp.

You know what they say, right?

Denial is more than a river in Egypt.

They were right.

I have been denying the obvious for a lot of years now. I mean, I’ve told you, I could NOT get my mind around the idea that I might be suffering from a sleep disorder that I associated with overweight men. Honestly, I was too embarrassed to even entertain the thought that I might be snoring, snorting, gasping, stopping my breathing and endangering my life every time I went to bed.

Yeesh.

I am the daughter of a woman who is pretty much totally healthy at 89. Her Mom died at 99 and a precious half, but only because her parts wore out. She was healthy as a horse until she died.

So.

I did NOT want to be sick. In any way.

Then I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I tried to ignore that one for a while, too. Until I couldn’t. Then I decided to accept the medication, but not the limitations.

I mean, here’s the truth that I know about me. I am not stoic. I am not strong and brave. I do not shake off pain.

In fact, if I must be honest, I am a wicked big baby. I gripe, I moan, I complain.

I have always assumed that when/if I get a terrible diagnosis, I will be the worst patient ever. I don’t see myself as having the grace that my Dad had as he navigated the last few weeks of his life.

But here I am. Not exactly going into that “dark night”. But sort of forced to accept some facts.

One: I have fibromyalgia. I can’t rake the entire garden in one day and expect to walk the next.

Two: I have wicked wicked bad sleep apnea. Holy crap. I read and reread my sleep study report.

I am in deep trouble.

I seem to stop breathing more than 80 times per hour. My blood pressure and my pulse rate jump around like crazy all night long.

According to my sleep study report, I have “SEVERE sleep disordered breathing.” Yikes.

It also says that I snore (are you ready for this????) 42% of the night.

And that (ahem) 35% of the night my snoring is “extremely loud.”

So.

My husband is a freakin’ saint. He still sleeps with me. And he says, “Once I fall asleep, I don’t hear a thing.”

I suspect that he’s lying, because he knows that I feel completely faked out about this whole thing.

So.

I am now awaiting the home delivery of my CPap machine. I hate the whole idea of sleeping with a mask on my face.

But I do like the idea of living for a while longer. And I really love the idea of letting my poor husband get some decent sleep for a change.

So.

Better living through modern medicine. I am more than willing to embrace this new part of my life.

Who knows?

Maybe I’ll be shocked at how good I feel after sleeping with a plastic mask over my face…..

To Sleep or Not to Sleep


Maybe I snore a little…once in a while…..

OK, fine. Sure. I snore.

I know. Snoring means that you have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea means that you’re gonna die. Real soon.

Fine.

I finally gave in to the gentle hints from my husband, the shrewd observations from friends who’ve been forced to sleep in the same room with me, and the evidence from my own tired self.

I talked to my doctor and I was scheduled for a sleep study.

I was not a happy old lady, but I went ahead anyway. I went to the appointment with the very, very, very sincere hope that I will not be diagnosed with apnea.

I don’t want to have chubby older man disease. How humiliating that would be!!

I am, after all, a chubby older WOMAN. I believe I should be immune to this particular problem.

A CPAP machine is my least favorite wish for my aging self.

But, I went ahead. I drove to the sleep study place. I met with the chubby older man in his scrubs, and filled out the questionnaire about my sleep. I listened as he carefully described how to put on the torture device/sleep study machine. I took notes.

That night, I got ready for bed. Paul and I had decided that I should sleep all by myself in the guest room. No chance of the talking torture device waking up him up. No chance of the dogs deciding to chew up the plastic tubes or plastic headset or plastic chest wrap.

Because I am a very good girl, and because I would rather drop dead tomorrow than do this again, I carefully followed all directions. I placed the forehead sensor on my forehead. Eager to be a good patient, I tightened the shit out of it. There were plastic sensors embedded into my temples. I let them stay.

Next, I stuck the nasal cannula way up into my nostrils, then carefully tightened it so it wouldn’t fall out and ruin the whole study.

As for the chest strap…..gentlemen, please look away. Ladies, picture this: You have to sleep in a sports bra, only its been rolled up above your breasts so you feel it all night long. There’s a lovely plastic clasp in the back that will dig into your ribs, your vertebrae and your neck (what the hell…) all night long.

The next step in this lovely adventure involved pushing a tiny button on the top of my headset. A woman’s voice instructed me about what to do. “The Unicorder has been turned on. Lie on your back, look at the ceiling and DO NOT MOVE.” Beep…beep….beepie beeples….. You may now go to sleep.”

Sure.

I laid on my back, but the squeezie rolled up bra device dug into my spine. I rolled to my left side, but the head set was on so tight that my left temple started to throb.

Try the right side. Ouch.

Try the stomach. OUCH! Bring back my nose, please……

Left side. Ouch again.

This went on for quite a while, but eventually my old body won out and I fell asleep. All was well until at some point….somewhere between midnight and 4 AM….I woke up to hear the same calm woman scolding me: “Adjust your forehead sensor. Adjust your forehead sensor. Adjust your forehead sensor.”

Holy bitch. “I did!” I snapped. I adjusted. Everything still hurt like hell, so I figured that all was well.

I dozed. Had nightmares. Tossed. Turned.

I might have snored, but who knows?

Eventually, I woke up. Filled with relief that I’d managed to wrangle with the torture device and still get some sleep, I reached up to turn off the recorder.

And this is what I heard:

“”The Unicorder has been turned on. Lie on your back, look at the ceiling and DO NOT MOVE.”