Hi. My name is John, and I’m a COVID Longhauler.
So before we begin, let me set the scene a bit by saying this: Toxic optimism is annoying. Christian toxic optimism is even worse.
I have suffered for extended periods of time under more than a few clouds without a lining of any remotely precious metal, and God has repeatedly given me more than I can handle (which, by the way, isn’t even in the Bible, and if you try the 1 Corinthians 10:13 argument I will fight you with my ninja skills because you’re misrepresenting the text and that’s just adding to the Christian toxic positivity).
Today I found my stupid silver lining in this stupid Longhaulers journey: COVID might have just saved my life.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, God’s hand is in all things, blah blah blah. Whatevs. I’ll still stab you with a cocktail fork if you take what I’m about to write and say “God used COVID to save you! Glory be unto Him!” because, by that insane reasoning, the Almighty has also used COVID to kill 500,000-plus others and that just doesn’t seem like a good “God’s got this” trade for little old me.
Just. Save. It.
As part of my search for answers as to why I have the Longhauler symptoms I have, I decided it was long overdue to find out why my sleep is so God-awful (see what I did there? See? See?). For basically my entire adult life, I have had trouble sleeping. Sometimes I have trouble getting to sleep. Sometimes I have trouble staying asleep. Sometimes, for a few months or so, I’ll wake up for good at ungodly hours. (God, I’m good).
When COVID hit, exhaustion crushed me. Then, like that annoying relative, exhaustion decided not to leave. Yet there I would be, wide awake at 3:30 a.m., looking up at the ceiling dreading another long day of Longhauler symptoms.
So a week ago I slept like this:
That’s thirty, count ’em, THIRTY different wires hooked up to various parts of my body. As if that wasn’t uncomfortable enough, a really nice young woman named Yvonne told me she’d be monitoring me all night via two cameras in different positions over my one-night bed and a microphone that could pick up any of my often profane sleep talking.
M’kay, sleep well!
I actually did sleep, though I didn’t make eye contact with Yvonne in the morning for fear I had said or done something embarrassing while she was enjoying a 3 a.m. snack and watching me toss and turn like I watch episodes of The Walking Dead.
Then I went to work and waited for the results.
Today, I got them.
Apparently, during the eight-hour study, I stopped breathing or struggled to breathe 53 times every hour.
Now, not breathing once in one hour is something that would have led me to say, “Umm, waitwhaaat?”
“You have severe obstructive sleep apnea,” a voice said through my phone while I sat there with my jaw hanging open like a high school mouth-breather jock. “Your oxygen level dipped to as low as 83 percent during the night.”
Now, 83 percent? That’s something I can get behind. That was a dream score in high school math.
“It should be in the low to mid 90s at night,” said the voice.
So we’re not going on John’s Scale of Math Success here. Got it. Moving on…
What’s coming next is a call from a medical equipment provider, who will schedule me for a fitting for an APAP (don’t you dare call it a CPAP) machine. This is not the thing I had ever hoped to introduce to my marital bed, but, from what I understand based on the fact that I freaking stopped breathing fifty-three freaking times in one freaking hour is something my wife and I are going to have with us as long as she or I keep breathing. (Too soon? Meh. I’ll allow it.)
So let’s get this crap out of the way: Thank you, COVID. Thank you for saving my stupid freaking life. Thank you for providing a stupid silver lining to all this stupid Longhaul stuff and giving some of the stupidly awesome people in my stupid life reasons to spout some stupid toxic positivity. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Seriously, folks, this news has me rocked. I am by no means fit but I am always by no means fat. So erase that as a possible cause for what I shall henceforth call “My Death Sleep.” Though my parents refuse to get their own sleep studies, the fact that both make children from neighboring counties weep with their snores and that I have witnessed my father not breathing while sleeping on more than one occasion leads my neurologist (AKA, Dr. Sleep) to believe this is a genetic thing.
Oh, and she says I have a big tongue, so there’s that.
The APAP slinger is supposed to call me in “one to two business days,” which means I have “one to two business days” of trying to fall asleep knowing that I basically die once a minute.
Somehow, I don’t think this is going to help the whole insomnia situation.