I have sleep apnea. Essentially, it’s a condition that causes one to stop breathing during sleep. Not good. So, unless I want to snore to death, I have to use a CPAP machine. It’s this breathing device resembling a really primitive, uncool-looking Vader/Bane mask with tubing.
Doctors tell me sleep apnea affects many people regardless of weight, health, or age. They say there’s no cure. Surgery is an option with little chance of success. In some cases, surgery makes the condition worse. The CPAP machine works some nights, but other nights I fall asleep with putting it on, or I can’t keep it on. It’s uncomfortable, gets tangled up around my neck, hisses at me. So, yeah.
Sleep apnea has affected me in some serious ways. I endure bouts of depression, when the thought of living with this condition seems unbearable. I get grumpy. Fast. Sometimes my mood goes from pleasant to curmudgeon-y, “snap,” like that. So I end up isolating myself. That’s affected my relationship with friends and family.
I don’t dream as much as I used to. Apneas interrupt one’s ability to reach and sustain deep REM sleep. That’s where the dreams happen. You know the ones where we can fly, or end up without pants at work, or fall from 75 story buildings.
All of this has made life as a creative harder. I’m an illustrator and designer. I enjoy writing too. But sometimes, focusing on a project or trying to make progress on ideas is almost impossible. Now and then, I catch myself staring into space as if some part of my brain is still chasing the dream world.
It’s a rainy night in some future version of Tokyo. I’m supposed to meet a guy about some secret noodles. He steps to my side out of nowhere. Hands me an envelope. Inside’s a bowl of ramen, squirming around.
“You look like a voidhead. Have you slept much lately?” he asks.
“Not really,” I say. He shakes his head. Looks up. A bat flaps its wings overhead, chasing a giant bug into an alley.
“Apnea’s the worst. You interested in a REM pill?” The messenger smiles with a double shot of sarcasm. “I can get you one. Got a Sleeprunner contact in the underground. It’s pricey though.”
A rain drop lands in my eye. I blink, rub my eye, and ask, “Aren’t those pills illegal?” A bat falls to the ground. It splashes around in a puddle, trying to take flight again.
“Yeah. But you’ll sleep. And no one can work for the Boss without sleep. Not for long anyway.” The messenger disappears down the alley.
Time to go to work.