50 Shades of Apnea

What exactly does it mean when someone says, “you have a mild apnea”? I mean, seriously, you either have apnea or you don’t. Much in the same way that you’re either horny or you’re not. Yes, yes, I know. It is all relative to the degree to which you have apnea or are horny.

What do you say when you’re asked if you’re horny? Does it go something like, “why yes, as a matter of fact I’m getting ready to start climbing walls and shit.” Or maybe it goes like, “well, I’m a little horny. I could go for some slap and tickle, but it’s all the same to me.” I say, be direct, dammit! Have some intent—or not, but stop being so fucking ambivalent about every fucking little thing…

In a nutshell, I have “mild” sleep apnea (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/basics/definition/con-20020286). Which translates to I have to wear a CPAP mask, the same as someone who has “regular” apnea, or “severe” apnea. Ok, granted, mine means that I’m probably not going to asphyxiate in my sleep. Yaaay!


And today’s CPAP machines, as explained to me, are not as big or bulky or noisy as the old ones (well, goody for technology getting something right!). Also, I don’t get to look like a fighter pilot with my mask on…it only covers my nose, almost exactly like the one pictured above. But so far I’ve worn it for 2 nights and it has not impeded my sleep at all. I did consider the alternatives…

No, I’m not going under the knife unless someone is paying for my sculptural lypo/tummy tuck combo at a posh facility. And I refuse to sleep with a foreign object in my mouth. I already had to suffer through wearing the damned head gear for 1½ years when I got braces in 5th grade. I had to wear the damned thing ALL day long and ALL night long. Nooo, of course I didn’t feel like the village freak at all. Everybody else got to wear their weird shit in private, but not me. I had to have one more reason to not fit in. No matter, that was over 30 years ago, so who cares? But it did influence my decision to go with the mask instead of the bite guard. Make of that what you will.

I am hoping—seriously hoping—that the mask will help to relieve some of the sinus pressure in the long run. If it does, it may relieve the pressure on my optic nerve, and/or the sinus headaches/migraines. I gotta tell you that, more than any MS symptom, is what fucks with my universe. Well, that and the back pain, but that’s a souvenir I got courtesy of the US Air Force, not MS related.

But it really makes me get it twisted that most people assume that when I complain of something it MUST automatically be MS related. It may be, let’s be honest, I did not complete med school…my student loans are nowhere near that bloated. But if it’s a symptom that’s been with me since those 4 years, 4 months and 20 glorious days in the Alamogordo NM desert (minus 6 weeks basic training and about 5 months of tech training), why would I assume that it’s MS related? Unless the military and VA physicians that examined me were so intensely incompetent. But I don’t think that they all were. I did have 2 PCMs in the Air Force and one ARNP in the VA in Florida that were outstanding. The rest…not so much. But whatever, back to the main issue.

Not everything that’s messed up with my health has been caused by MS. I still don’t feel that I need to fight, although I have seen plenty of people who do fight the good fight every single day. I am still not angry about it, and I still don’t blame anyone for it. Yes I know, it runs in my mother’s side of the family (the women get either lupus or MS, the men are only mules), but it’s not like someone deliberately decided to insert that particular sequence into our DNA. I mean, it’s not like when the government kidnapped Puerto Rican “rebels” and infected them with cancer. Or when they spayed Puerto Rican women without their knowledge or consent. But that’s a history lesson that would take a looong time to cover.

So no, I’m not fighting. I still follow my care plan but I don’t see it as a something that I need to beat or conquer. I also don’t see it as something that I am subject to, or powerless against. I’m still just me, living my life the best way I know how. Reawakening my heritage. I am, and always will be, me. 50 Shades of Apnea or none. I am not defined by any condition but that which I choose to define myself by. I Am.

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