Dead Asleep (#296)

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.”

“Really? Why?”

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.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

28 thoughts on “Dead Asleep (#296)”

  1. I have a lot of experience with CPAP machines.

    I, too, snored. Grew drowsy and couldn’t keep my eyes open during the day—at work, while watching TV, and worst of all, when driving. It got so bad that Tara wouldn’t let me behind the wheel for any kind of extended trip. A home sleep study confirmed I had severe sleep apnea, so I was issued a machine and it literally saved our life. Probably our marriage, too.

    The next year I had a serious health scare and was diagnosed with diabetes. Like, off-the-chart blood sugar numbers. I was in danger of kidney failure. Suffice it to say, this was a wake-up call; after spending a few nights in the hospital, I made a dramatic change to my lifestyle. Altered my eating habits and started walking 4+ miles a day. I dropped a LOT of weight, reversed my diabetes, and no longer needed the CPAP machine. I still snore a little, but nothing like before…and I don’t fall asleep at work anymore.

    Bet you didn’t know all that about me!

    1. Good job! Way to turn things around. Did you

      Andy works out and does weights and his health is good, but he definitely snored a lot more after we both gained pregnancy weight. Even after he lost it, the apnea remained. Design flaw exacerbated by aging, I guess.

      No doubt it’s getting worse now that there’s no gym!

      1. Thanks! My doctor once called me a poster child for diabetes, lol. I was very militant in the beginning but have definitely loosened the reins over the years. I still mostly avoid sugar but will allow myself indulgences.

        Happy to answer your unfinished question, btw. 🙂

  2. I had the apnea test and hsted it. Couldn’t sleep at sll so they got unusable results. I don’t snore at all and sleep 7 to 8 hrs a night. Glad it worked in your house though and here’s hoping you will both sleep well.into the future.

  3. I sleep with a snorer. I have not been successful in getting him any program though. Recently he bought a wedge so he would sleep with his head higher and that has helped, but not eliminated, the problem. I understand why a lot of older married couples have separate bedrooms.

      1. My brother and his wife started sleeping separately in their 40s. He’s asthmatic and can have a ruckus night. I too thought it was sad. Then I grew up and thought it was wonderful. Privacy and a girly room! My SIL has dolls in her bedroom! 🙂

    1. A lady friend of mine who snored very loudly, got a mouth piece from the dentist and it helps. It pushes the mandible forward. If you try to mimic snoring and then push forward the mandible, you’ll see that you can’t snore. In the morning she has to wear another mouth piece to make sure that she doesn’t get a permanent misalignment.

  4. I honestly cannot see any difference in how I experience the world based on using a CPAP, except maybe a slight decrease in sore throats. I’ll never stop using it, though, because someone else sleeps a TON better because my fat, freight-train-snoring ass has one.

      1. I’m happy to take one for the part of the team that’s a light sleeper. If my previous comment sounded annoyed, it’s because of the fat, freight-train-snoring ass part, not the preventing myself from snoring so my wife can sleep part.

  5. Why is it that everybody who snores always swears they don’t snore?? Hehe. One of our couple friends sleep in separate rooms because the guy snores like a bear. When he goes on business trips, no one wants to share a room with him. When I was a student in Beijing, one year I shared a room with a woman who snored very loudly and I got used to sleeping with earplugs. But after a few days in a row, my ears hurt…

    My husband snores when he has been drinking and when he wears his retainer…

    1. I don’t know why snorers insisted they don’t snore, but you’re right, so many of them do it. I had a roommate who talked in her sleep and then got mad when I told her what she said. I guess she was offended that I listened, but it wasn’t like I was eavesdropping on purpose…

  6. I have heard of CPAP machines and that they can be annoying at first because it’s like sleeping with something over your face.I wonder if you people who have claustrophobia have issues with it. I could never wear ear plugs like you when I sleep. Just too annoying.

    What I don’t like about snoring is that it can be so inconsistent throughout the night. My dad snores and as a kid, I heard that all night long. Always woke up throughout the night and the next day my dad would ask if I had a good night’s sleep.

    Oh, didn’t know TSA would be quick to pick on the next white woman in line after Andy. Sounds like they want to put on a good front.

      1. Oh yes, Everyone in my family told dad he snored. He just shrugged it off. It was annoying. I was a heavy sleeper as a kid and remember always waking whenever he started snoring.

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