Imagine, if you will, that you are on a date with someone you’ve been attracted to for ages. The gender of this person is entirely up to you, but you really like them. Maybe you’ve already had a couple of lovely dates, engaged in conversations that have seriously bonded you, and you’re thinking, ‘yes, there’s something good happening here’. You’ve kissed. It was one of those ‘close your eyes and leave the planet’ type kisses, and now you’re aroused just by being near them.
You go back to their house for ‘coffee’. They turn on a side-lamp and not the main lights, so you know they’re creating a certain ambiance for your benefit. They put on some Nina Simone or some obscure recording from Ronnie Scott’s. The mood is enhanced.
You touch their hand as they approach you.
The coffee never gets made.
Just as your eyelids close, a noise like an enraged pig emits from their nose; or is it their mouth? Or both. Your eyes are suddenly wide open. Their snore is gaining momentum. It is getting louder and louder. Outside two cats who have ventured towards the open window to investigate, engage in spitting and hissing; not at each other, but at the snore that is hurting their sensitive ears. A dog howls in sympathy next door. A passing bird is shocked out of the sky and hits the roof of the house. You don’t know about the bird. You couldn’t hear the thud on the roof because of the volcanic snoring right next to your ear.
Then it stops.
It stops because the amazing person with whom you’ve just made love has actually stopped breathing. What do you do? Phone for an ambulance? Practice first aid?
The snore that follows makes up for lost oxygen. It pulls air painfully into their throats, and the concrete foundations of the building vibrates, rattling door-frames and windows.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether they are lying on their back, on their side or even upside down, their snoring is relentless and possibly louder than an elephant, a race-car, a jumbo fucking jet.
As quietly as you can, you slip out of bed and into your clothes. You pick up their cell-phone and find your contact details, erasing them completely. You leave their home, and on the street you call for taxi to come and get you – now!
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what dating me is like. I’m not the one slipping out; you are. I’m the one doing an impersonation of Concorde in bed. But not for much longer.
On Thursday I go into hospital to have my Obstructive Sleep Apnea unobstructed. It means four procedures. The first obstruction is a huge nasal cavity. The condition is called ‘concha bullosa’ (I think). It has caused my nasal passages to be squeezed too narrow to function efficiently and the x-ray showed that the inside of my nose was shaped like a ‘C’.
When I’m asleep, the obstructions in my nose force me to breath through my mouth. Unfortunately I never had my tonsils out, and over the years they’ve become enlarged too, and are another obstruction to night-time breathing. Also, the muscles in the throat slacken slightly with age, making the vibrations that cause a snore more likely.
So, I’m having a tonsillectomy (to remove my tonsils), a palatoplasty (to remove any excess soft palate), a septoplasty (straightening the inside of my nose) and a turbinoplasty (dealing to that enlarged cavity).
Originally, I didn’t go to a specialist because of my snore. I had no idea how bad it was. I went because of the constant sinus problems I seemed to be having. I’d often wake up in the morning with sore sinuses, and a sore throat and that would last for much of the day. I was aware that I was consistently having a disrupted sleep, because I never woke refreshed, but I didn’t pay that much attention to it. The specialist suggested that I record myself at night to investigate my snore, and arranged for a x-ray on my sinuses.
About 11 years ago, my then husband began to complain of a snore developing. It wasn’t until I recorded myself (using a phone app, can you believe) that I found out just how bad it it had become since then. I was mortified. You expect a man to snore; it’s a bonus if they don’t. But being a woman who snores is just humiliating and I hate it. I had no hesitation when the ENT specialist asked if I wanted to go through with the surgery he felt I needed. I joined the public funded waiting list, and waited.
Thursday is D-Day.
It’s the first time I go under General Anesthetic and I’m terrified.
But it’s got to be done. Not getting enough of the right sort of sleep has a terrible effect on your life. In fact, I’m led to believe that it can cut years off your life-expectancy. It dramatically effects your weight, your energy levels and your ability to concentrate. The surgeon tells me that I won’t know myself after the operation. The acts of sleeping and exercising will be new and wonderful. My life will significantly improve.
Apparently I’ll be miserable and in a lot of pain for a fortnight, and then I’ll start to feel better. And then I’ll be able to breath. And then I’ll be able to sleep – blessed, blessed sleep.
And so will the lucky bastard who’ll one day get to sleep with me.