Monday, April 25, 2016

Sleep Apnea

About 15 years ago I was diagnosed with sleep apnea.  In college, about five years before that, I saw a psychiatrist about my depression, and he suggested I had sleep apnea and was all set to have me be tested in a sleep clinic.  The last thing I wanted to do was to look like Bane from the bast Batman movie.  He also said that if the CPAP machine didn't work, they could do a tracheotomy.  When I heard that I almost leapt out of my chair and ran out the door.  I did leave, and never went back.  Besides having a CPAP, having a tracheotomy was worse.  How could I possibly attract a man looking like Bane?  Forget about it.

But  five years after that I couldn't forget about it.  I started wetting the bed.  I guess I was so tired that I couldn't even wake up when I had to pee.  So I went in for the sleep test.  I  had the wires glued to my head, and tried to sleep in a strange place.  I told them I couldn't breathe through my nose, but they didn't seem to believe me for they used a mask that only covered my nose.  Needless to say, I don't know what was worse, my snoring or the weird gurgling sounds coming from my nose.  

I brought home a CPAP machine.  My first one was so loud it sounded like a tornado ripping through my apartment.  After fruitless attempts at sleeping, I switched it for a bigger, yet quieter one, and finally convinced them that I needed full face mask.  

I have been using this contraption for 15 years.  I got a smaller one about 7-8 years ago, but still use a full face mask.  I really don't like wearing it.  But I keep telling myself that it keeps me alive.  

I know people who have CPAP machines but don't use them.  I wonder why.  Maybe they are just not used to having contraptions on their bodies.  I guess I'm used to that.  I had a Milwaukee brace as a child, used a muscle stimulator on my back as a teen while attempting to sleep, had hearing aids since junior high, and braces for 4.5 years and a retainer for one year.  So I'm used to having various strange objects on my body.  I didn't like it at the time.  I hated it actually!  My braces always hurt my teeth, and gave me headaches.  But in retrospect, I am glad I had these things done.  My spine is not so crooked as to require surgery.  My teeth are relatively straight, I can hear things I never heard before, and I finally get the sleep I apparently have needed for years without irritating others with my snoring.

And no, I still haven't attracted a man.  The way I look at it is if he really loved me, he would want me to do what I had to do to be healthy.  Having sleep apena can put a strain on your heart, as you are stopping breathing hundreds of times a night.  You won't realize it or notice it, but it happens.  This puts an added burden on your heart.  Why would you want to do that?  

CPAP machines are much quieter and smaller than they used to be.  And you can get supplies on amazon.  There are other treatments now for sleep apnea that might work for you.  My case is unique as I have it as a side affect from my second cleft palate surgery.  But without that surgery, my speech would be unintelligible.  So since I only have one mouth to speak but two ways to breathe, it's a doable deal.

I guess I have been wanting to write this for a while, to share that life goes on.  It's not the end of the world.  At least now there is something that can be done for sleep apnea.  Just give it a chance.  There are lots of options now, and no excuse to not at least try.  What have you got to lose?

Monday, April 18, 2016


I am Brussels.

When this attack happened only last month, I was saddened, but not surprised.  They had warned of further attacks in Europe, so it was just a matter of wait and see what happens.

When it did happen, I kept expecting Facebook to give me a chance to change my picture to the Belgian flag.  But none was forthcoming.  I felt sad as I wondered if it was because of the kerfuffle that ensued after the Paris attacks last year, when some people were complaining about others who had changed their picture to the French flag, when so many other attacks happened around the world as well.

I think I can explain why.  Most Americans have not been to those other places.  Most Americans are descendants from European countries, so we feel a stronger relationship with the Europeans.  It doesn't mean we don't care about the other continents, or the people within them, but that we feel a stronger brotherhood of man with Europeans.  

This also made me sad as at first I felt united with my fellow Americans in standing together with them in grief for the Parisians.  I was even there during 9-11.  Now they were experiencing their own 9-11.  And I felt sad for them as I remember how deeply 9-11 affected me, and still does.  Then people started creating this rift between us.  And that unity was broken.

Why do we feel the need to attack each other?   Why can't we be the United States of America?  Why can't we get past the divisions between north and south, left and right?  Why do we feel the need to attack others on social media, thinking since we have freedom of speech, it is OK to hurt others?  It is OK to spread whatever lies we may believe as long as we believe they are the truth.

There are so many hack sites out there that spread lies.  They have no journalistic integrity.  I usually don't comment or share unless it's a site I am familiar with, it has been verified with other sites, and I am relatively sure that it is something my Facebook friends would be behind.  Facebook is a way for me to connect with my friends that I hardly ever see.  I suppose people could say don't read it, don't look at it.  But after reading so many postings that continue to drive a wedge between us all, I wonder if we will ever get past this.  

Friendships should be able to respect each other, respect each other's opinions, and not try to change each other.  I'm an adult, I have a brain, I try to see both sides.  I try to think how would I feel?  I am not always successful.  Sometimes I lose it and let fly.  But I am working on it.  I don't want to contribute anymore to this division.

We need each other now.   We need to be united against the outside forces that want to destroy us and kill us.  We need to stand together for this great country of ours.  It's not perfect.  No country is.  But I am thankful for the opportunities that this country has afforded my family and I.  My ancestors came here in search of a dream.  Let's hold on to that dream, and not let it slip away because our enemies want to destroy us.  Don't make the sacrifices that our military men, women, and families have made be in vain.  

Friday, April 15, 2016

Getting Something off my Chest

I think it was on this day in 2010 that my mom and I were at the airport, embarking on our excursion to Europe, where I saw something unique on the TV.  Thousands of people had started a new political organization called the Tea Party, and were protesting taxes, since it is tax day in America. For some reason, I found this to be encouraging.  I remembered when I was working making about 23,000 a year and 1/3 of my salary went to taxes.  Before my dad retired, half his salary went to taxes.  I don't remember what he made, but my parents do have money, so I guess the government thought they should have to pay their "fair share."  That was why I was encouraged by the protesters.  Finally, people had had enough of big government.  And they were doing the incredibly unpopular thing and making some noise about it.  

I am writing knowing that some people will be angered by my post.  But I truly believe in the rights of our country, the only country with these rights.  Right to free speech.  No other country has this.   This was a new and radical idea that our forefathers were determined to make sure that we had, for they came from a land where no one had free speech.  You were persecuted if you practiced a different religion from the state.  You were arrested if you spoke against the state.  People had to do what the government told them to do, there was no freedom.

That's why so many still come here!  That's why we are still the greatest country in the world!  Our Constitution!  Without that, there would be no anchor to hold us, nothing to keep us from folding like a stack of cards to popular opinion.  

I have never been popular.  My family has never been popular. We were seen as somewhat eccentric, my dad tooling around in his '32 Fords.  My parents never acted like they had money, but people somehow found out.  They still do.  We still get grief about it.  So it irritates me to no end when some people lump all rich people together as selfish and greedy.  That is just as bad as saying all poor people are lazy,or any other stereotype you can think of.  Why is this OK?  It is not OK!  I am tired of people judging us because of my parent's money!

They earned every cent.  My mom was poor growing up.  When they married, they didn't even have their own place to live, they lived first with my dad's parents, in a little rambler, then with a relative in the Twin Cities.  Their first home was a trailer in a trailer park.  Neither got to go to college (my dad did for one semester).  But they worked hard, saved their money, and committed themselves for provide for my sister and I a better life than they had.  

My parents are generous.  They do give.  They've helped out many people over the years.  Even my friends.  Even their bachelor neighbors.  Even strangers.  They donate to many causes, including vets and homelessness.  

I'm not saying all this thinking my parents are perfect and have no faults.  We all have faults.  But to judge a person solely based on one thing, is stupid.  Just because they are successful in this arena, doesn't mean that they don't have problems in any other arena.  No one is without problems.  No matter how good they look, how much money they have, or how talented they are at something.  

I was talking with my Bible study members the other day about how I found what I am passionate about, through trial and error.  I volunteered at a homeless shelter and food shelf for a bit, but I hated it, and I had a bad experience.  I guess I thought that's what good Christian does, help the poor.  But then I realized, every body needs God, even the rich, beautiful, and successful.  My point was I needed to find what I was passionate about, what I was good at, and what I enjoyed doing.  

I've been wanting to write on this for a long time, knowing that some people have issues with wealth.  I don't even like to say rich.  It's embarrassing, as some people judge right away and assume the worst.  What those people don't realize is that without business people like my dad, there would be no jobs and economy.  Granted, there are some really bad business owners.  My dad was one of the good.  He was fair, honest, rewarded his employees, and helped them whenever he could.  He just found something that he was good at, and worked hard at it until he got it.  He earned it.  I know some people might think well he is white, it's easy for him.  No, it wasn't.  I don't delude myself into thinking minorities don't have problems, I am a minority, I know I have problems!  But to blame those of whom don't have disabilities is ridiculous.  Although my parents are white, they had their own problems growing up, of which I won't state here as it is their private lives and not my mine to write about.  But they had nothing when they started.  Only a dream.  

I am proud of my parents.  They are the most generous people I know.  They have compassion.  They have always been there for me.  They are committed.  They didn't give up.  They persevered.  And I am blessed to have such parents that taught my sister and I the value of family, morality and money.  They are good people, and I love them.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My Sister

My sister, Lisa, my dad, and me.

Last night I was watching Modern Family, and it was about the younger daughter, Alex, graduating from middle school.  Her older sister, Haley, was trying to encourage her to not give the speech that she had planned for the commencement exercises, which would have alienated her from everybody the rest of her grammar school life, but to give a common, popular speech.  Alex was a smart girl but not popular, while Haley was the opposite.  Even though they seem to fight all the time, Alex's older sister was still looking out for her, sharing what she had learned, and not wanting Alex to suffer any more the pain of loneliness as a socially awkward teen.

This show makes me cry sometimes, because it is so true to life.  My sister and I fought a lot too when we were teens.  We were so opposite of each other, I think we couldn't understand each other.  Even so, when my sister was severely ill, I worried so much for her.  When our parents were mad at her for breaking a rule, I felt for her, and took her side.  

I know that she worries about me.  Like when I felt my breast lumps, she worried I had breast cancer.  Whenever I struggle with anxiety and depression, I know she worries and wishes I could have it easier in life.  I know she wishes that I could live a "normal" life, whatever that means.

I chide her in her "blissful ignorance" and extreme optimism.  She believes there is someone for everyone, although I know this not to be true.  She believes the best about people until proven wrong.  She is the most giving person I know, so generous with her time and money, even though she has little of either.

Sometimes I worry she gets taken advantage of, which she does.  But I guess in the whole scheme of things, I wouldn't want her to change.  This is who she is.  Generous to a fault, not worrying about things that she can't control, doing whatever she can for her little girl, to make her as happy and successful as she can.  She is the most devoted and dedicated mother I know.

She is like her mom and her mom's mom, Grandma Lila. She is a beautiful person, inside and out. 

We are still so different.  I still am an obsessive-compulsive, she is still a free spirit.  She gives of herself freely, even though she has been burned many times.  I think she sometimes thinks she should "wise up."  But I think we need people like her in our lives.  We need people who believe the best, give the most, and shine brightly.  

I love my sister, Lisa.