Public Eye 01.18.13

(Jan. 18, 2013) A recent blurb on television promoted the so-called amazing feat of a European diver who could hold his breath for more than 22 minutes. Big deal, I say, since I can do that anytime. It’s called sleep apnea.

Although I have never actually timed myself, I am told that hours might pass before my subconscious, or the sharp point of a tiny elbow ruthlessly applied by a nearby concerned citizen, informs me that breathing would be a good thing.

Being the argumentative type, I rejected the notion that I might suffer from the curse of sleep apnea. Maybe, just maybe, I contended, I’m a highly efficient breather who doesn’t need all that inhale-exhale-regularly stuff to function at my unusually high level. Or, for that matter, maybe I like oxygen deprivation. Besides, many people swallow their tongues just for the fun of it.

As would be expected, the counter-argument would be to say that oxygen/sleep deprivation might explain why, on more than one occasion, I have risen early in the morning and attempted to make coffee without the pot.

The real reason for not wanting to acknowledge this sleep disorder, my argumentative nature notwithstanding, is the contraption that apnea suffers have to wear.

It’s called a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), which in many of its configurations is nothing more than an athletic supporter with an air hose that you wear on your head.

I’m not saying that strapping one of these things (fresh out of the box) on your head and saying, “Look at me, I’m Martha Washington,” never happened in seventh grade, but you do reach a point in life where you would prefer to maintain a little dignity. Going nighty-night with scuba gear on isn’t one of them.

On the upside, however, wearing one does prevent you from waking up at 2 a.m. or so while trying to spit out your own tongue, which apparently has gone even more nighty-night than what is good for you.

I am happy to report, though, that breathing at regular intervals has turned out to be a positive development, which is why I’m just not interested in people who can stay underwater for extended periods of time.

Sure, they can do that, but can they make coffee when they emerge?

I wouldn’t hold my breath.

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