Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Making bedrooms safer across the land

A device that may end the kicking and screaming

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There's an exciting new medical device I want to tell you about, but first I need to explain these ugly purple bruises on my legs.

I got these bruises from a woman I sleep with every night in my bedroom.

It's possible this woman is my wife, but I can't swear to it because whenever I climb in bed and look beside me, all I see is a massive, misshapen lump of blankets, sheets and pillows, under which is some manner of life form that, throughout the night, emits a symphony of snorts and snuffles.

The main thing this anonymous wife-shaped lump does is kick me whenever I manage to fall asleep. This happens every night. I will nod off and start dreaming about scoring the winning goal in the Stanley Cup final in front of a crowd comprised mainly of the Swedish bikini team, and the next thing you know -- KICK! KICK! KICK! -- I am being forcibly awakened by a series of well-aimed, under-the-covers kicks directed at my unprotected shins by the Lump, which apparently is extremely angry about something.

"STOP IT!" the Lump will snarl in a voice that sounds eerily like my wife's, though, again, it is impossible to say because it is muffled by blankets.

I always try to reason with the Lump. "Stop what?" I will ask, adopting a tone that is far more polite than it should be, considering the force of the blows I have just endured.

Which is when we will have the following conversation, which I present here in a slightly sanitized version:

The Lump (angrily): "YOU'RE SNORING!!!"

Me (deeply offended): "I don't snore!"

The Lump (indignant): "Do too snore!"

Me: "Do not snore!"

The Lump: "Do too!"

Me: "Do not!"

The Lump: "YES!"

Me: "NOOOOO!"

It will go on like this for some time, but I think you get it. The medical point I'm trying to make here is I do not snore. I can tell from the sensitive way you are reading today's column that you do not snore, either. In fact, I have never personally met anyone who snores.

Here's a startling fact: If you talk to 100 randomly selected people, all 100 will swear on a stack of Bibles they do not snore. But they will go on to complain the person they sleep with -- assuming, of course, they sleep with another person -- snores like a (bad word) runaway freight train.

Here is another startling fact: Scientists have found that playing an Australian aboriginal instrument called a didgeridoo can strengthen the muscles of the upper airway so it won't collapse and lead to snoring.

It's clear that, next to watching those home-renovation shows on TV, snoring is the biggest threat to modern marriages. For example, my best friend, whose name I am unable to reveal because I do not want him to fire me, will often flee the comfort of his bed and sleep on a couch in the den because his wife -- who has informed me this story is a complete fabrication -- snores at a decibel level that could shatter apartment windows in downtown Grand Forks.

Which brings us to the exciting new medical breakthrough I mentioned in the first paragraph -- a tiny device, called Remede, that can be implanted under the skin to combat chronic snoring caused by a form of sleep apnea, wherein people temporarily stop breathing as they sleep.

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is one of those icky medical masks that delivers pressurized air to keep a sleeper's airway open, but I know from personal experience wearing one of those things makes you look and sound like James Earl Jones -- "I am your father, Luke!" -- portraying Darth Vader in Star Wars.

In contrast, according to news reports I found on the Internet, the Remede device is the size of a matchbox and, after being surgically implanted just below the collar bone, works to regulate your breathing throughout the night.

I am sure there are pros and cons. On the upside, you will stop snoring and continue breathing through night. On the downside, you will have a device the size of a (bad word) matchbox implanted just below your collarbone.

For the moment, I have decided against having the surgery, because, as I may have mentioned earlier, I don't snore.

I have no idea what my wife will think of this decision, but I'm confident the Lump will get a kick out of it.

P.S. It turns out it's impossible to sleep while playing the didgeridoo.

 

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2014 A2

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