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Below are the 3 most recent journal entries recorded in forest_pool's LiveJournal:

    Friday, August 13th, 2004
    7:52 pm
    How strange is it that I never have crushes on female actors, but rather, more often on male actors typically from the UK, like Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy) in Pride and Prejudice, and Billy Boyd (Pippin) in Lord of the Rings? Crushes, well, I don't really know what else to call them. Maybe it's a desire to emulate. Is there a word for that completely innocent, non-sexual "I just want to watch this guy who makes me smile" sort of crush?
    Saturday, July 31st, 2004
    7:12 am
    Sleep apnea
    I have severe obstructive sleep apnea. That means, or at least before I received treatment it meant, that when my throat muscles start to relax during sleep, I stop breathing, and I'm forced back into a lighter sleep. My body literally wakes me up hundreds of times during the night without my realising it. Deep sleep, the healing sleep that leaves you feeling refreshed in the morning, is something I didn't get. Not only that, I didn't get REM sleep, which is the most common stage in which dreams occur. That's what they told me when I had my sleep study done in January or February, and it was true, when I thought about it: I hadn't had many dreams lately.

    I have a big neck, and I'm a bit overweight. Both of these issues can contribute to apnea, especially the weight, since as few as ten pounds can make a huge difference, or in some cases, make the apnea go away completely. I knew that treatment would help me sleep better, and maybe I'd require fewer hours of sleep, but I really had no idea the effect the apnea was having on my life.

    Some of the many symptoms of apnea are:

    • Unrefreshing sleep that leaves you feeling unrefreshed no matter how many hours of sleep you've gotten
    • Constant daytime fatigue and lack of energy
    • Anxiety, mood swings, social problems (inability to maintain or establish social links), lack of motivation
    • Depression
    • Changes in personality
    • Poor judgement, memory, and concentration
    • Getting in arguments much more frequently
    • Morning headaches
    • High blood pressure
    • Low sex-drive
    • A host of other medical problems

    As for the personality changes, a woman named elfwench in an apnea community on Live Journal told me this: Your brain gets deprived of oxygen and when the frontal and temporal lobes, which affect personality, are affected... well, it's often not a nice thing. Plus, just being exhausted can make anyone a grumpy depressed mess because you're not getting your proper REM sleep.

    Yep. That's pretty much how I felt for a while. It's like this: I look back at myself, and the horrible decisions I made, especially in my relations with my ex-fiancee, Crystal, and I don't know how to reconcile the person I see there with the person I actually am. It couldn't be me, because it's nothing like me, and I could criticise that person to no end for all the stupid things he did, but wait -- it was me. How does that work? I don't know. That's the big thing I'm struggling with: finding a balance between taking responsibility for hurting someone who meant more to me than it'll ever be conceivable to express, forgiving myself, and accepting that it's not completely my fault. I don't know how to find that balance. I'm not going to blame the apnea -- it's not that easy to get myself out of those 3 am guilt sessions -- and you know, I have learned a lot through all this, lessons that will help me get through life, with or without apnea. I know that even if I dealt with symptoms twice as bad as that, I would be more responsible, less argumentative, use better judgement, and be more caring and sympathetic towards those around me, and even myself. Maybe that's what it means to take responsibility... learning from whatever plight you're given.

    In my case, doctors suspected I had a condition called polycythemia, which had me very worried about my mortality, but thankfully it was a rise in red blood cell levels due to the apnea and lack of oxygen at night. Two or three months ago, I got the CPAP machine, which is a mask you wear over your nose, that treats the apnea. Since getting it I've had the most refreshing sleep I remember getting in the longest time, my energy levels are way up, my irritability is gone, and my personality is back to my normal self. The first night I tried it, in the sleep lab, I noticed right away how wonderfully refreshed it made me feel in the morning. I wouldn't get my own CPAP for a couple months after that, and that made me feel really bad, knowing what I was missing. When I was going through all that, I wasn't the kind of person anyone wanted to be around!

    Someone wrote a post on usenet which really made me think of my own situation and I wanted to share it.

    Well... the mask is a pain in the face at first... but I got used to it real quickly... [It's really not as bad as it sounds. I still get aches with it, sleeping in certain positions, but generally it's worth the experience I have the next day.] I have been using cpap for about three years now I was amazed how that machine returned my life to me... and it was overnite!!! The morning nap was eliminated right away, and a week later after being on cpap the afternoon and after dinner nap was gone too!!!

    I was tired of:
    Falling asleep behind the wheel and at red lights... [I never really fell asleep like that, probably because I used caffeine and such to keep me awake.]
    Sleeping for long periods and never feeling rested..
    Being depressed, iriatable, cranky, frankly I was to the point I couldn't even stand being me... [oh, how I relate! I hated myself for treating people I love so horribly, I hated myself for not understanding why I did it, and then I hated myself because I suspected I was going to do it again! In short, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!]
    I had memory lapses
    I would mildly hallucinate before falling asleep (color cartoon stuff) that was kinda cool though...
    My kids were afraid of me...
    My personality had mutated into some type of monster!!! [yep.]
    My sexual drive was down
    I couldn't complete tasks or remember anything...
    I had no concentration abilities
    and I once slept for 25 hours and still woke up tired... [but you get used to it, and don't realise how bad it is...]
    Well, my wife was watching an OPRAH sow and they were addressing the snoring-apnea problem when she called me into the room and I watched some guy describing my life... OPRAH??? Oh my god, I was helped by OPRAH... well at least it wasn't Richard Simmons!!!!
    I lost my teaching position... as a direct result of an altered personality directley related to sleep apnea. Well, I never got the job back but I sued the school under the Americans with Disabilities act and they settled out of court... I did want the job back, but I did get some gratification instead. I had the sleep study while I was employed there and informed them that I was feeling great now and apologized for my behaviour for the past few years... 2 months later I was fired... oh well...

    That's most of it, anyway. This guy posted this in 1997 but still I had to try to write him a letter.

    Hi. I'm responding to something you wrote seven years ago, so I have no idea if I'm going to reach you, but it's worth a shot. Your story hit so close to home that I had to try to respond.

    I was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea and got the CPAP about 3 months ago. I haven't yet scared people off because of it, but while I was visiting someone, his dog did try to bite my face off!

    What I really connect to is where you say your personality had mutated into some type of monster. You were depressed, irritable, cranky, and couldn't stand being you. That's exactly what I went through in the year previous to getting my CPAP. My personality changed slowly enough that I didn't really notice it happening. Eventually I started feeling really bad about myself, self-esteem, depression, and hopeless frustration, because the apnea had changed me and I didn't know who I was anymore. I had no energy to do anything that I wanted to do. I didn't understand what was happening to me. I knew I probably had sleep apnea, but I didn't know it could have such a huge effect on a person...

    I started getting really cynical, especially towards my ex-fiancee who I loved with all my heart. I started getting in meaningless arguments with her all the
    time, saying mean things and putting her down, and really basically being a monster, much as you describe. She left me in March when things started getting really bad. I look back on the way I was, and I think, that couldn't be me -- because it was nothing LIKE me -- yet, it was me. I've tried to reconcile the way I really am with the way I was then, but it's like two completely different people.

    It's nice to hear that you got your job back with the Americans with Disabilities Act, because really, I used to think of sleep apnea as an unfortunate disorder that's horribly inconveniencing but just tough luck if you have it. You can't rebuild a relationship with the Americans for Disabilities Act, but still, it's nice to know your personality changes due to apnea were recognised in the courtroom.

    You said there was more, and that piqued my curiousity. If you wouldn't mind telling me more, I'd love to hear it.

    Thanks for writing that. It's helped me understand myself and feel better about myself.


    In early December Crystal and I went to Maine to visit a farm that we were thinking about working at this summer. I hated to tell her, and bring down her hopes, but I felt there was no way I was going to have the energy for that. *I* was disappointed, mostly in myself. The more I thought about it, the more it exhausted me, the more frustrated I felt, the worse I felt about myself, and really, I was a monster much of the drive home...

    With the apnea it was really easy to say and do things I'd later regret. It was even easier to get into these unhealthy patterns of behavior that were really hard to break. Sometimes it failed to be a relationship at all because I fell into these patterns and just wasn't relating. And it's not like me to fail to relate like that, but that's what I did.

    The apnea also seemed to cause writers block, and I don't know if that's because of the anxiety, depression, and poor concentration, or if I just wasn't feeling good about myself, but in any case... how many entries did I write on Open Diary during that period in which I said something like: "I really can't write today, I don't know why. Nothing I write feels right. It's just so frustrating." Over, and over, and over I felt that!

    I do hope that someday Crystal will understand that what I did wasn't because of her, and maybe, just maybe, she'll open up to the possibility of rebuilding trust in me again. I think that both of us in good health and spirits have so much to offer each other. I know I am not ready to be friends with her right now, and I probably won't be, for quite a few months, if not longer. I don't know how to gauge that... but I guess I'll know it when it comes.

    Current Mood: thankful
    6:53 am
    My first post
    I started this new journal to help me put my life together, and also, to give me a sense of privacy from my ex-fiancee and some of the people who might read my other journal.

    Some things in my life could really use some adjusting. I just graduated from university, and I've found myself an aimless wanderer, trying to figure out what to do with myself now that I've finished my study of philosophy. When my ex-fiancee and I were together, I didn't want to be in school; now, I wish I could do it all over again! I may pick up a copy of Barbara Sher's book "Wishcraft" and see where that gets me.

    To keep myself occupied, I've taken up the chivalric art of fencing, which I study through my local SCA chapter. I don't have my equipment yet but they've got loaner equipment and I've been practicing with that. Yes, I'm very clumsy, but that's part of the reason fencing is so good for me. Isn't that how we discover our potential?

    On September 11th, provided my telephone interview goes well, I'll be headed to New York City to work with an organisation called Sprout, leading people with mental and developmental disorders on vacations to places like Atlantic City, US Virgin Islands, and Ireland. A lot of people think I'm nuts going to NYC, specifically Manhattan, on that date, and even the guy at Greyhound commented on it.

    Also, even though I don't like cars, and you can see that Carbusters is one of my interests, I'm going to take some time over the next few months to relearn how to drive. I hardly drove after I gort my license. Now, I'm nervous, and probably don't remember the rules of the road. At least my insurance has gone down due to so many years without accidents. My ex-fiancee and I got in an argument once because she was sick of doing all the driving, and wished that I would help once in a while. I was offended, because it's not as though I didn't want to help, but in all respect to her, I didn't want to kill her by getting behind the wheel.

    Lately I've been riding a sine wave between passion and apathy. Neither one of those stages seems to last very long, and it can be quite annoying when I'm trying to concentrate on something (a book, for example). I am still struggling with having hurt and lost someone who meant the world to me. I'll write a little about that in my next post.

    Current Mood: complacent