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…..

Who Am I Kidding?


As a slightly past middle aged woman, I know what it is to deal with insomnia. Sometimes I lie down at 9 pm and I’m asleep at 9:03. Of course, on nights like that one I wake up at 10:30, 11:03, 1:35 and 3:40 before getting up at 6:30.

But there are other nights where I toss and turn from 10 to 2 and finally fall asleep at 3, only to wake up at 6 with a headache.

So why in the world would I even consider sleeping with not only my aging husband of 40 years, but also our two dogs?

Why?

It. Makes. No. Sense.

This is my typical night, just so that you understand the pressures at work here.

I go to bed. Paul is in the living room, watching sports. The dogs, Lennie and Bentley, are beside him on the couch. I settle into my bed, ice pack in place on my lower back. I sigh. I settle back. I curl up on my left side.

And I hear the inevitable “ticky-ticky-tick” of Lennie’s claws as he comes down the hall. I lie still on my pillow. Lennie jumps nimbly onto the bed and settles himself into a tight curl somewhere around my legs. I fall asleep to the sound of Lennie’s gentle, rhythmic breathing.

I come awake again around midnight. The covers are now tight around me, and my butt is exposed to the cool night air. I can tell, as I roll over, that Paul has come to bed and is sound asleep beside me. Lennie is still at my feet, on top of the covers.

But Bentley is stretched out to his full length on top of the covers between Paul and I. He is happily dreaming and is totally at peace.

I roll onto my right side, slightly annoyed that I am lacking coverage on my chilly old bottom. I try to pull up the blankets, but find that I am thwarted by the two dogs who are snoring on top of the quilt.

“OK”, I think, “This is ridiculous. I need to sleep. I need my blankets. I need my bed.” I get up, thinking that I will go to the bathroom and then come back to dislodge the hounds and reestablish my human superiority.

I walk back to the bed, my phone in my hand for light. I see Lennie, curled up and sleeping like a baby at the foot of the bed.

Lennie

Gah! Why are you waking me up???

I decide that he’s OK. I mean, he’s only at the foot of the bed. He isn’t really impacting my sleep. Much.

So I turn to the other guy. To the soft, sweet, silky puppy who insists on sleeping so close to me that we seem to be fusing at the spine.

“You need to move!”, I hiss, as I slip back under the covers. “I am really REALLY tired!”

I push him off of me.

He softly and silently turns into everyone’s favorite stuffed animal. He melts. He becomes totally inert. He shloops himself onto my chest.

Benney

“Ugh”, I whisper. “Get OFF!”

He snuggles just a tiny bit closer. He lifts his soft, silky snout up toward my cheek. He lays his head against mine.

“Sfhshshsfsh” he breathes into my ear.

I try to resist. I do. I straighten my spine. He straightens his and continues to breathe into my ear.

I want to be strong. I want to move him off of the bed and onto the floor. I mean, seriously! What kind of badass woman lets herself be pushed around by a puppy?

I wait for just a second. The warm, soft fur lying against my neck feels good. The gently repetitive breathing on my cheek is oddly reassuring.

“I’ll get you guys off in a minute.” I tell myself.

Then I curl onto my side, feeling Lennie’s warmth against my feet. I sigh, and pull the covers up over my shoulders. As I do, I realize that Bentley is under those covers, his softly sleepy head resting next to mine on the pillow.

We all fall asleep.

I’m a soft touch. I’m a jerk. I’m an aging old lady who loves waking up in the middle of the night with both arms around a warm little body.

Yeesh.

Who am I kidding?

I’d rather sleep with these snoring, shedding, gassy little guys than without them. And that’s the honest truth.