Warning: scary pictures included, view at your own risk!
The Lone Ranger had his mask, Zorro wore one. Batman and Robin did, as well. Even the monstrous Hannibal Lecter had a face covering, of sorts, not so much to hide his identity but more to protect his prey, other humans, from a nasty consumption habit.
Now, thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, I have a mask, one that’s a nighttime fixture on my face.
However, whereas the aforementioned fictional characters were crime fighters hiding their real persona, except for Hannibal, I’m just an ordinary man trying to get a good night’s sleep.
Recently, I was diagnosed with ‘sleep apnea’, the ‘temporary cessation of breathing’ (apnea), especially while sleeping. Strong emphasis on ‘temporary’.
Apparently, sleep apnea is a common problem among men and women and the appointment backlog at the local sleep clinic reflects it.
A recent sleep test showed my REM sleep was grossly inadequate, and the Rx for it was a CPAP device, the mask. And herein lies the problem. I’m sleeping better but the physiology of my face appears to be changing.
The symptoms are easily recognizable, fatigue, drowsiness, low energy, especially during times of idle moments. I’m a Senior and whatever idle moments I have left are not to be wasted on fatigue.
Prior to my diagnosis, I wore the customary marks of a maturing gentleman; small creases on my cheeks, slight baggies under the eyes, some redness, nothing too dramatic.
But, alas, now I’m getting furrows on the cheeks, puffiness under the eyes like a prizefighter, and redness like frostbite. What a mess! And it’s daunting to think that the Rx was written for life!
The data shows that the mask is working. So, I’ve accepted it, albeit begrudgingly, facial marks and all.
Odd thing about medical devices, while helpful on the one hand, they can add a whole new persona to one’s character. The massive bandages following shoulder surgery give one the appearance of the fictional ‘hunchback of Notre Dame’. A line of staples on a shaved head remind onlookers of the Frankenstein monster.
I’ve had them all and now, at night, with my mask, I’ve become the irascible Hannibal Lecter. My wife must sleep with one eye open. I wonder if she would mind if I took just a nibble? I wonder…