In which I’m not there yet

If you have never seen someone wearing a CPAP mask, be aware that it is impossible to overstate just how completely fucking ridiculous they look. Prince couldn’t look cool in one of these fucking things. Bowie couldn’t look cool in a CPAP mask. It’s just impossible, and it’s driven home by the fact that if you Google the masks you get a bunch of pictures of attractive people and models and they still look completely ridiculous– none of them are dressed for bed, and critically, none of them are giant, hairy fat men, which by my understanding are the main clients for these things, as our bodies are tired of us and thus try to strangle us in our sleep.

Anyway, you might be wondering why I haven’t given an update for the CPAPpery yet, and the reason is that I haven’t got one to give. I’ve got my machine, but the mask they sent me … isn’t working. At any size. It is absolutely impossible (I’ve said that a lot in this post already, but it remains true) to get the mask they sent me, at any size, to seal properly– my unit will work for no more than five to ten minutes before stopping because of a “major airflow leak” and tell me to reattach my hoses, which have never been detached and do not have any holes in them, nor are they attached improperly.

We’re trying a different mask of another style, one that is close to the diagram to the right but I think doesn’t feature the idiotic top-of-the-head air tube attachment, and I fully expect to find out when that gets here that there’s something wrong with my machine. Looking forward to it, even, because when you try three different versions of the same mask with three different people, two of whom do not have beards, and remain entirely unable to achieve a proper seal even once, it’s probably a sensor issue somewhere and not the mask’s fault.

I get the new masks on Thursday next week, supposedly, because they are apparently being sent by camel. I feel like given that the insurance company is already hassling me for “noncompliance with my therapy,” which I currently can’t do because my shit doesn’t work, and my respiratory therapist was supposedly going to take care of this exact problem, they maybe could have shipped the equipment faster. Maybe just, like, a guy, on foot. He could have gotten it here before next Thursday, I’m certain of that.

Anyway, if I ever get to attempt to sleep in one of these things, I’ll tell you all about it. It hasn’t happened yet.

On that sleep study

I didn’t write about the sleep study on Sunday like I meant to, mostly because it kind of ended up fizzling as an entertaining story, but a couple of people have asked me about it from Real Lifetm so why not. The thing I was most prepared to be annoyed about was that I was expecting to be told to go immediately to bed upon returning home with the equipment. I believed this because 1) when my mother had a similar trial many years ago they wired her up and told her to go straight to sleep at, like, 7:30, and 2) my doctor told me that was what was going to happen. Sleep at 7:30 simply wasn’t going to be possible, so I was looking forward to many hours of laying with my eyes closed in a not-especially-dark room (we have, in 12 years of living in this house, somehow not managed to acquire curtains for all of the windows in our bedroom) and just … existing.

I made sure I was done with caffeine for the day before noon, which is not normally my move, and tried to be a bit more active than usual, hoping that Tired would set in, and indeed I did manage to elicit some yawns while I was driving to the hospital at, oh, 6:30 or so. I had three different shirts with me because I wasn’t clear about my instructions and didn’t quite know whether they were going to be putting any sensors directly onto my skin or, conversely, wanted to avoid putting sensors straight on my skin; instructions to wear a “button-up shirt or a pajama shirt” seemed slightly contradictory, especially for someone who sleeps in a pair of basketball shorts and nothing else on all but the coldest nights. Sleeping with a shirt on was going to make the whole process even more complicated.

Anyway, it ended up all not mattering; the most interesting parts of the actual wiring-up bit were 1) taking my picture, both from in front and profile; 2) measuring my neck for some reason; 3) having to sign a form stating that if I broke or lost any of the equipment I was on the hook for $5300, I hate you America; and 4) discovering that not only did the shirt not especially matter (I went ahead and wore it, because the nurse suggested the straps could get uncomfortable, which seemed reasonable) but that I should go to bed at my normal time. This was mostly good news, although it meant I had to sit around my house all evening with the equipment on.

I did not take any pictures with the equipment on, by the way. I thought about it and then looked at what the straps were doing to my man-tits in the mirror and … nah. I love y’all but not that much. Here, if you want to see me looking ridiculous, check out this post-LASIK picture.

The actual equipment: a nasal cannula with a little attachment that hung down over my upper lip, both designed to determine whether I was actually breathing; a pulse oximeter attached to my left pointer finger; two elastic straps, one around my stomach and one around my chest, both to measure how much they stretched and contracted as I breathed through the night, and a sort of control box that strapped to the center of my chest and I don’t think actually did anything on its own. I suspect the pulse oximeter was probably the single most important part of the system, as I feel like watching that for eight hours will provide sufficient evidence of whether I’m breathing properly in my sleep or not. Either way it’s going to be a couple of weeks before I hear any results, assuming that nothing disappeared after I put it into the drop box at the hospital the next morning.

Here’s the problem, and yes, I’m an idiot, you don’t need to tell me: I really don’t know if I can wear one of those fucking masks if they decide I actually do have sleep apnea.

I am, and again, I know this is stupid, deeply paranoid about people being able to see me when I’m asleep. I was always the last one to fall asleep and the first one to wake up at slumber parties, and even now with a wife and child, one of whom is in the bed with me every freaking night, I can occasionally be weirdly twitchy about it. And while being asleep around my actual family isn’t much of a thing except on my worst anxiety-melting-my-brain nights, the notion that I might have to be asleep around other people while wearing that ridiculous-looking getup on my face offends me at a deep and primal level. Like, this shit is pre-rational; pure lizard brain. I can’t manage it. I’d literally rather have surgery (and yes, there’s all sorts of paranoia about anesthesia, too, but at least that’s only once) than have to wear that damn mask every night. Surely there’s something they can cut open or cut out or put a stent into or something like that? C’mon. Plus, I’m a stomach sleeper, and granted the whole reason I started pushing for this test in the first place was that if I try to sleep on my back I stop breathing, but I’m pretty sure strapping a 2-1B mask to my face is going to make stomach-sleeping pretty Goddamned uncomfortable, and the idea is that I can sleep however I want, not that I trade one way I can’t sleep for another way I can’t sleep.

Sigh.

At any rate, I’ll let y’all know when I know something.

That time again

This year’s big innovation in classroom design is a couple hundred feet of Bluetooth LED lights that I bought from Amazon for like $19 a roll or something. I have decided that this year I’m in a secure enough financial position that I’m not going to worry too much about how much I spend to outfit my room; I know all the arguments about why teachers shouldn’t have to spend money on this shit (and, believe me, I’ve argued from the other side as often as from mine) and this year I don’t care. I’m gonna be spending eight hours a day in there and God damn it I want the place fun and comfortable. The lights can be controlled from an app on my phone and can cycle through a billion colors or something; I really only need eight or ten so we’re all good there. I don’t know how often they’re going to be on, necessarily, but they’ll be a fun option.

I’ve spent a good couple of hours over the last few days talking with the new principal, and while early emails raised a whole lot of red flags, nearly all of them have been put to bed as soon as in-person conversation became possible. I still have no sense of my assistant principal, who is a very quiet person. Honestly, in a lot of ways, the AP’s job is more important, as the AP is the one who handles discipline. You need an ass-kicker in that role. I am not getting ass-kicker vibes. But we’ll see. Two major “not important in the grand scale but a big deal to me” tests were passed; teachers do not have a dress code and I am not going to be expected to submit lesson plans, provided that I’m actually teaching, which is not going to be a problem.

Two more weekends and we’re back. I have an at-home sleep study tomorrow, have I mentioned that? It’s because my eye doctor thinks I have sleep apnea, a sentence that is 100% true and I have no intention of providing further explanation for. I’m expected to arrive at the hospital at 7:00 PM, where they will hook me up to a bunch of wires and diagnostic devices, then go home with all that shit attached to me and, at, oh, 8:00 or so, depending on how long it takes, go directly to sleep. Which, hah. I’m thinking about getting up at, like, 5:00 in the morning tomorrow and then not touching any caffeine after noon just in hopes of a chance that I’m not tossing and turning in bed all night. I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to do any of my usual wind-down shit either; I typically read for at least half an hour before bed and … well.

I’ll tell y’all all about it on Sunday.

So, about that …

Please to be noticing the date on the following Tweet:

Fascinatingly, I am not sick. But my wife is! My wife, who never ever gets sick, who comes from a family where living to 120 is considered underachieving, tested Covid-positive last night. And I, who sleep in the same bed as this woman, remain, as of this morning, almost annoyingly negative. I don’t know how to explain this feeling I have right now. I don’t want to be sick, and I don’t want to have Covid. But my wife has it, and based on all the knowledge I currently have about this disease and its level of transmissibility, spending several days unmasked in the same room with someone who is infectious should practically guarantee that I catch it. And yet I have not caught it, nor has my son, so the possibility of doing so in the near future gets to continue to dangle frustratingly over my head.

I did not go to work today, as I had a slight sore throat (which I have had for several days) and I already had a doctor’s appointment scheduled this morning. I woke up, took a second test– negative again– then went to my doctor’s office, where they redirected me to the back of the building and into a “respiration room,” which was more or less the same as a normal room except with an enormous air filter in it running at high speed. They gave me a third test, which was negative again, then confirmed my plan to stay home as a good one. I went through my checkup, had a blood draw and a pneumonia shot (I replied “I will take all the shots” when asked if I wanted the vaccine) and went home. I spoke with someone from HR who also confirmed that staying home had been the right move because of the sore throat and told me that my Official Instructions from Downtown were to take a fourth test tomorrow morning. If I remain negative, I go to work; if I’m positive, I stay home. Friday is an inservice day, so no kids, and Monday is MLK day, so this would actually be a pretty good weekend to be sick in terms of not missing a lot of school.

Also, if I’m positive, I have to take a selfie of myself with the positive test and send that to the HR lady I talked to, which I find kind of hilarious.

Also possible: that sore throat has been with me for a minute now. It’s not exactly an unexpected thing for a teacher in January to have a sore throat for pretty obvious reasons, but it might be that I actually had covid last week and was so asymptomatic that I didn’t realize it, or at least my symptoms fell so in line with what I was expecting anyway that it never occurred to me to take a test. It’s not entirely unreasonable to theorize that I might have infected her. Another fun possibility that I didn’t think about until after the pneumonia shot was that that could also have side effects, and I do tend to get a day of gross out of vaccines, so it’ll be fun to try and sort those out from potential covid symptoms.

I have been instructed to monitor myself for headaches and diarrhea. Both of those are known symptoms of Omicron and not symptoms of a pneumonia vaccine.

One way or another, it’s gonna be a fun few days around here.

In which I am falling apart

I had my first dentist appointment since before the pandemic started yesterday morning, and while I don’t have any new cavities or anything worth talking about– it was just a cleaning, after all– it was a cleaning after about a year and a half when normally my hygienist likes to see me every three months so that she can keep an eye on my gums. She did not quite resort to a circular saw to clean my teeth, but it bloody well felt like it, and then I fucked around and had a chicken sandwich for lunch that ripped up the roof of my mouth, so I spent all day yesterday with my teeth and the inside of my mouth aching in a way that wasn’t necessarily bad— like, on that 1-10 scale they like, it’d have been a one or a two– but in terms of sheer persistence was making me absolutely nuts. I had cottage cheese and some loose deli meat last night for dinner last night because the notion of eating anything I’d have to spend much time chewing just seemed entirely unacceptable.

Today I had an eye appointment; those I’ve stayed current on, since they don’t require people to stick their hands in my mouth, which seems safer, but I’m starting to think that I need to go back in time and prevent myself from getting LASIK. The punch line is, at least according to my eye doctor, who was the person who did the LASIK, this was probably coming anyway, and at best might have been faintly aggravated by the LASIK, but I’m having annoying issues with keeping my tear films properly hydrated, despite the fact that I spend half my day every day pouring liquids into my eyes. She flat-out admitted that she doesn’t quite understand what’s going on with me right now, because my vision is varying widely depending on, well, something, but we don’t know what. Like, on one visit I’ll be corrected to 20/10, and then on this one I was at 20/40, and I was at 20/30 on the last one, and the only things that seem to be consistently different are the tear film thicknesses. Today ended with me walking out with two new sets of eyedrops (one medicinal in a fashion that I’m not 100% clear on, another simply an upgrade to the artificial tears I was already using) along with a heat mask that I’m supposed to wear for 15 minutes before bed every night and tiny little plastic plugs inserted into my tear ducts, which were supposed to help me in some way that she explained perfectly clearly at the time and I can no longer repeat. So all day today my eyes have been bugging me.

She was also horrified that my insurance company turned down the sleep study, which … yeah, that’s a whole separate other thing. I feel like I’ve got enough medical issues going on right now without tossing sleep apnea on top. (And suddenly I’m wondering if you can just buy a CPAP, and how expensive such a thing is.)

Anyway, my point is that my everything aches right now and maybe spending all day staring at screens isn’t the smartest move I could be making with my life right now, but, well. We all know how good I am at making decisions.