Originals

What You Saw Last Night Was a Natural Expression of Love Between Two People With CPAP Machines

We want you to know that despite how it may have looked, we’re completely fine, and even quite refreshed. We were never in danger, aside from the slight risk of toxin seepage from your father’s recalled Phillips Respironics Dream Station.

The truth is that we would never choose to offer a teachable moment this particular way – a thrash of nude bodies, cords, distilled water, and so on – and all we can do is reassure you that it is completely normal for the initial exposure to a CPAP machine to make you feel like you might asphyxiate. Yes, that’s exactly right! Like you could literally die.

The point is that not only is everything fine, but we think you’re old enough now to discuss something special that grown-ups have done throughout time – which is to adapt nearby resources into their lovemaking routines, whether these are food items, professional uniforms, or prescription-only equipment the insurance company provides for respiratory therapy. Sometimes, couples who share a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea discover that they also share an interest in experimentation with forcing pressurized air through hose delivery systems, thus accidentally revolutionizing their sex lives. We hope that one day you find someone you love this much, and when you do, you can entrust them with your heated tubing. It won’t matter whether you opt for a mask or nasal pillows, only that the pressure is positive and continuous.

We understand that when you first learn that adults regularly blow open more than one of their obstructed passageways, you may feel overwhelmed. That’s normal!  It is totally legitimate to have questions about what you may have glimpsed – the humidifier tubs or the elaborate configuration of Velcro headgear straps. Nothing is off limits. So, ask whatever you want. We’re not embarrassed.



In fact, to be honest, it’s a relief finally to tell you the ways our lives have improved. You probably remember that we used to be exhausted all the time, dozing off at your piano recitals and birthday parties, with no energy to move from the couch at night, let alone to have very special “adult hugs.” Now, if we gasp forty times an hour, it is totally unrelated to respiratory failure, and every orifice feels like a breath mint. If we hit each other all night, it’s not to stop the snoring, if you see what we mean. And what’s more, we still have energy in the morning to clean the garage, do some quilting, and complete a Tae Bo video before work.

When you do meet someone special, we hope you’ll bring up your interest in CPAP machines early and without shame. And please note that we will not judge you if you find yourself in single CPAP relationship. In fact, we know that we will need to be there for you more than ever  — because you’re really going to have so much down time when you’re better rested than your partner.

While you’ll appreciate our candor one day in the future, the level of awkwardness you feel right now seems to have triggered oxygen desaturation. The color has totally drained out of your face, reminiscent of an apnea-hypopnea index over 30. So, yes, we’ll drop it. And certainly, we will entertain your suggestion to put a lock on our bedroom door.

Meanwhile — If you hear a whooshin’, don’t come a-pushin’.

 

by K.E. Flann

K.E. Flann

K.E. Flann has published two award-winning short story collections. Her prose has appeared in McSweeney’s, Points in Case, Defenestration, and other publications. A guide book for movie monsters, How to Survive a Human Attack, is out now from Running Press (Hachette). Currently, she teaches at Johns Hopkins University. A craft book, Write On: Critical Tips for Aspiring Authorswas released by Stay Thirsty Publishing.