Sleep apnoea! Really? Me?
Apparently so, according to a recent visit I paid to a sleep clinic. During five hours of REM sleep, the two dozen probes affixed to various parts of my head and body recorded ninety-two times where I stopped breathing for periods of up to forty-five seconds. Who knew?
Remedies will have to be explored, of course. At one time in my life, I had trouble falling asleep, but no longer. Now, it would appear, my problem is trying to avoid expiring while in slumber-land, because of a shortage of breath.
I waken sometimes with my wife hovering anxiously over me, checking to see if I’m still inhaling and exhaling.
It’s all so bothersome.
When I used to lie awake for hours after going to bed, my breathing was perfectly fine—ranging from slow and regular to quick and fitful, depending upon the thoughts and images running through my hyperactive brain. Given that I had to rise early for work in the morning, it was the wakefulness, not the breathing, that was the problem.
Along the way, a wise (but somewhat snide) friend offered me the perfect solution to those sleepless hours. “Pretend you’re interviewing yourself for a TV talk-show,” he suggested. “As the host, ask a series of questions, and then, as yourself, answer them.”
“How will that help me get to sleep?” I asked, unmindful of the wicked gleam in his eye.
“Because nobody, including you, could stay awake if they had to listen to you being interviewed!” he cackled.
Despite his merriment, I thought the idea had possibilities, and so I set about trying it whenever sleep proved elusive. At first, it had the opposite effect, however; I was so busy thinking of questions to ask myself, my brain went into overdrive.
With practice, though, the questions began to come more easily, and the answers flowed. And sure enough, listening to myself proved a soporific boon. The veils of Morpheus descended on me much more rapidly than ever before. I don’t recall that I ever made it through an entire interview before falling asleep. Insomnia was banished!
But now, in addition to the vexation of sleep apnoea, I am bothered by the fact that, as my friend predicted, even I cannot last through an interview with myself! Can I really be that boring?
So, I determined to find out. As an avid reader of the magazine Vanity Fair, I always enjoy the quick-hit interviews with people of renown that are found on the final page of each edition. It occurred to me that, if I could be asked those same sorts of questions, perhaps I would prove to be a stimulating subject. Surely, I reasoned, listening to myself would not be a sure-fire cure for insomnia.
But you may be the judge of that. Here are the questions, with my answers—
When and where were you happiest? I’m very happy now, but my fondest memories are of the years when we were raising our two young daughters.
What is your greatest regret? I don’t have many—life is too short—but I suppose it would be that I didn’t listen more carefully when my parents were talking about their hopes and fears. I could have been more attentive and receptive.
What is your greatest fear? Living beyond the point where I can be mentally engaged and productive.
What talent would you most like to have? Playing the honky-tonk piano…well!
What is your favourite occupation? Writing.
Who is your favourite character in fiction? Travis McGee.
What quality do you most like in other people? Two—integrity and a sense of humour.
What quality do you most like about yourself? An ability and propensity to see others’ points of view.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Certainty.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Impatience.
Which living person do you most admire? Stephen Hawking. I don’t understand most of what he says, but I admire his courage and strength of will.
Which living person do you most despise? Any fundamentalist or ideologue, of any political or religious persuasion, who would seek to take away someone’s liberty, personal dignity, and sense of self-worth.
What is your motto? It changes from time to time, but a recurring favourite is ‘Don’t believe everything you think!’
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Spending eternity in the loving arms of my wife.
How would you like to die? Quickly…but not soon.
What is your current state of mind?
Mr. Burt? What is your current state of mind?
Mr. Burt? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…..