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apnea — from the Greek, apnoia, which means breathless.

For those of you who follow my blog, you may have heard that I recently changed job locations; from Soho in Manhattan, to Orangeburg in Rockland County, NY.

I know, right? What the hell is in Orangeburg?

Well, the answer is me… four times a week. My 18-minute commute is now 90… on a good day. Tuesday and Wednesday were not good days. Both days were two hours plus to get home. As I trudged up the stairs to my home, I resolved to quit my job. Then I realized that cat food and high-speed wi-fi don’t come free, so when night falls, I get back in the Sonata and head towards the GW Bridge.

This week, I had resolved to do two things:
1 — Disconnect from facebook for a day to get some writing done —
2 — Do something about my breathing and sleeping issues.

I love Facebook, I truly do. I think it’s a great tool that has allowed me to reconnect with old friends, get to know cousins that I wouldn’t have otherwise known, and it gives me a vehicle to share my thoughts, rants and ideas. This may or may not be a good thing.

But I spend entirely too much time on it. It’s the first thing I do in the morning, and the last thing I do before I go to bed, and god forbid something important happens during the night.

Guess what? Nothing ever happens.

On Wednesday, I resolved to take a 24 hour break from FB and focus on a screenplay that I’ve been working of for the past 12 years. Should be easy, right?

Quitting tobacco was easier.

At 11pm on Wed, I posted a note that I was going offline. That way, if I went online, everyone could call me out on it. By 7am, I was awake and itching like a junkie. I decided that I was going to just log on for a minute, check my timeline, and then go about my day.

A little voice in my head said — “Don’t do it.”
I went to the gym instead.

At 51, I have come to realize certain realities about middle age
– I am still pretty strong when it comes it lifting heavy pieces of iron.
– I have the stamina of an 80 year old woman.

Everyone has to make concessions as we age; for me, allergies, cat dander, asthma and achy joints has left me unable to regularly partake in vigorous aerobic exercise.

That and the fact that I hate it.
That and the 35 extra pounds.
Other than that I’m great.
Except for the snoring.
And the sleep apnea.

Weeks ago, I made an appointment to do a sleep study to see if I could correct some of the problems I’ve been having sleeping. And help my wife sleep better in the process.
And my neighbors as well.

I never thought that my sleep study would coincide with my Facebook exile.
Getting back from the gym, I was faced with certain dilemmas:

– I wasn’t going online to pass the time.
– I couldn’t take my afternoon nap
– I wasn’t going to be sleeping in my own bed that night.

I went to work on the screenplay –

To whom it may concern, is the working title of a screenplay that has been lurking on my computer for quite some time. It’s the story of Nathan O’Dell, a man in his 50’s who is having a difficult time readjusting to life after spending the previous decade in prison.

I’ve never been to prison. I couldn’t handle prison. I can barely handle staying inside for three days when I have the flu, but we all have experienced a prison of our own making. We lock ourselves inside different boxes, and impose limits on what we can and cannot do. We cut ourselves off from love, and freedom and success. Society imprisons us too. We get labeled and placed into bins that we can’t seem to escape from. We’re grouped into races and ethnic groups and economic classes. This past election cycle only made that more evident.

Nathan O’Dell made a mistake; a terrible mistake that cost someone their life, and cost him his family and 13 years of his life. Nathan O’Dell is now a free man, but he’s never been more trapped.

I wrote three or four good pages in the afternoon, and then tried to do a few errands around the house to avoid the inevitable nap that usually comes calling around four in the afternoon. Thankfully, Mrs. McAllen got home early. She managed to keep me entertained for a while until I had to go to my appointment. Entertained being a metaphor for marital copulation. Needless to say, by dinner time, I was ready to sleep. I was scheduled to be at the testing site and in my pj’s at 10pm. I didn’t think I was gonna make it.

Wifey made a lovely dinner of stir-fry shrimp and broccoli. The boys thought it was “meh”, but I thought it was awesome. I was happy and grateful. When I was a bachelor, I was a terrific cook, but somehow, I forgot everything I once knew. If it wasn’t for my wife (and peanut butter and jelly), I’d starve over a 3-day weekend.

I walked over to the test site which was right in the old neighborhood. After filling out the usual mound of paperwork, I was shown to my room. The first thing I did was what every spouse of a former exterminator does —
– Check for bedbugs.

Luckily, it was a rubber mattress with fresh linens.

I got into my pj’s and began texting my wife, and looking for the football game on TV. The attendant came in, and began the painstaking procedure of hooking me up. Three leads were affixed to my chest, two to my left leg, one to my neck, and about ten to various places on my skull. All affixed with generous gobs of dippity-do. I slipped under the covers and tried to get into a sleeping position. This is not the most conducive condition for quality sleep, plus there was a very real concern that one of these wires was going to choke me in the night.

Plus, it wasn’t very attractive to look at –


I scrolled through the channels and landed on Oliver Stone’s Doors movie — I remember seeing it the day it came out. I don’t think I’ve seen it since.

I thought Stone did a terrible job with the movie. I thought it was silly and completely missed the point; the whole thing with the naked Indians and hissing lizards was ridiculous.
I did however, think that Val Kilmer did a good job as Morrision.
However, Kilmer was terrible as Batman.
Plus, Meg Ryan was still adorable when she made the movie.
Plus, you get to see her nipple for a second.
Ok. I’m still a 12-year old inside. Sue me…

Depending on who you believe, Kilmer is going through a rough time right now.
Kilmer gained a lot of weight over the years.
I bet he has sleep apnea.

I could feel myself starting to get drowsy.
Then the itching began. Everywhere a wire was affixed to my body started to itch. I took a deep breath and went to my zen place, trying to ignore the itch.
Within minutes, I was asleep.
After five minutes, the snoring started. I could hear it in my sleep.
Five minutes later, the apnea started. I woke up choking for air.
I fell back off, turning to my side from time to time, trying to find a comfortable spot.
At one point in the night, I kicked off the covers to free my legs.
At some point, the attendant came in the room to check on me.
I woke up many times during the night.
I dreamed that there were people in the room with me.
I dreamed that I couldn’t breathe, which of course was true.
I dreamed that there was a snake trying to wrap itself around my neck, which of course was true.

After a while, I was able to fall off into a deep sleep. I woke at 5:15. The test was over. I got dressed and headed out into the still-dark morning. The last remnant of the super moon hung in the blackened sky. The night air was brisk. I quickly made it home. It was before 6am. The cats were waiting for me. I fed them and was about to head upstairs to wake up my wife.

First I had to check Facebook.