My Chinese-American husband snored. I woke at the slightest disturbance. For years, it was a miserable combination. I survived on earplugs and every sleep medication known to man.
Then my ear canals got infected. The doctor told me I couldn’t wear earplugs anymore.
I told Andy we had to do something about his snoring. Like many snorers, Andy didn’t really believe he snored.
“And if I do snore occasionally,” he insisted, “it’s not loud.”
“I can hear it when I try and sleep in the living room,” I argued. “Sometimes it’s not even a snore—it’s like a snarl!”
“You’re just a light sleeper.”
I made a video of Andy snore-snarling with my phone. He refused to watch it. It took weeks of arguments (and an increasingly psychotic spouse) to get Andy into a sleep study.
The night he spent attached to various sensors at the Sleep Center was bliss—for me. I had the whole bed to myself. In a quiet room.
Andy’s night was terrible. He snored as usual. He woke up multiple times every minute, even though he didn’t realize it. He learned that a) every night’s sleep was terrible for him, b) he was in serious danger of a heart attack, and, worst of all, c) his wife was right AGAIN.
The sleep specialist issued Andy a CPAP machine, a device that forces air down a sleeper’s throat. The CPAP comes with a mask, which many people have trouble sleeping with. Not Andy. The man was such a heavy sleeper that he had no problem falling asleep and staying asleep.
The CPAP machine was a lifesaver many times over. With proper rest, Andy’s immune system improved. All the respiratory colds Baby D brought home no longer turned into bronchitis in Andy’s crappy lungs. He stopped having to use an inhaler. He no longer fell asleep at work (except in exceptionally boring meetings). He was less grumpy. He drank less coffee (11 cups instead of 12, but still an improvement).
Best of all, Andy no longer snored. His risk of being murdered by his sleep-deprived wife decreased drasticaly.
The CPAP machine did have few downsides. It made a whooshing noise that wasn’t always consistent. Sometimes it was a near whistle. I once woke up certain I was listening to Russian organ music.
When Andy got rear-ended so badly it broke his tailbone, he had to wear an electric belt that stimulated bone growth at night. If Andy moved in his sleep and detached the device, it beeped incessantly.
After one delightful night of beeping and whooshing, I moaned to a friend, “It’s like I’m sleeping with Darth Vader!”
The C-Pap machine was a pain while traveling. It had to be carried on the plane. Many TSA ageants had never seen one. Andy was already likely to get pulled out of the airport security line, especially after vacationing in very white New Hampshire and growing a beard. His unusual electronic equipment made extra screening inevitable.
We developed a routine. Baby D and I would send our carry-ons through x-rays and go through the detectors first. Behind us, Andy and his machine would get selected for extra screening. Baby D and I would then follow Andy and the TSA agent, projecting “wholesome white non-terrorist family.”
I could count on Baby D to ask questions like, “What are they doing to Daddy?”
“They are profiling him because he’s the only non-white guy in line, sweetie,” I’d answer loudly.
The TSA would hurriedly grab whatever blonde woman happened to be next in line in order to not look racist. (Which is why I made sure Baby D and I went ahead of Andy.)
These white women generally threw a huge hissy fit: “What? Me? You think I’m a terrorist?!”
TSA: “It’s just random screening, ma’am.”
Random White Woman: “This is outrageous! In all my years, I have never! No, you don’t touch me!”
Usually the white women were still making a scene by the time TSA had finished with Andy and we were on our way to the gate.
But the travel issues and noise were minor irritations, especially when compared to the end of snore-snarling.
Andy’s machine and mask never failed to impress Baby D’s preschool playmates. When D and his best mate Nate took a break from tearing around the house with blasters and light sabers, Nate pointed at Andy’s machine and mask and said, “What’s that?”
“Oh, that’s something Mr. Wong wears at night.”
I lowered my voice to a whisper and said, “Don’t tell anyone, Nate. But I sleep next to Darth Vader.” Nate gulped and nodded, wide-eyed.
Some moms complained that D’s classmates were holy terrors during playdates.
Strange. I always found them well-behaved when they visited our house.