Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Queen of Air and Darkness

Breathing is good. The older I get, the more I appreciate breathing. I know it sounds a little stupid. Our bodies are marvelously designed so that we can control our breathing and when we're not paying attention, like when we're sleeping, we keep on breathing.


My boss at my Day Job noted more than once that I'm not a Morning Person. Well, no. I'm not. Now, don't get me wrong. I love mornings. Early mornings in California can make you think, at least for a few minutes, that the whole place belongs to you. It's quiet. More and more I like quiet, too.

I didn't realize I was such a fan of quiet until I went to a conference for work recently. I went to DreamForce along with, oh, 160,000 of my very best friends. We all carried blue backpacks and followed trails like hamsters on a camping trip. Seriously, for an empath, being in a crowd of 160,000 of motivated software seekers is like being screamed at by dolphins, locusts and maybe a few jumbo jets. Somewhere in the middle of my days of enlightenment, which WERE valuable for my work experience, truly, I declared that I was no longer an extrovert.

I don't know if it's possible to resign from a personality trait but I was willing to try. I no longer was energized by the frisson of others' happiness. I no longer wanted to talk all night, an extrovert's idea of dancing all night for you non-verbals. I no longer thrilled to the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd. I thought being in a real forest with songbirds, the occasional insect and fresh air was maybe the best thing I could think of--or maybe the beach with the sound of waves and seagulls and the smell of salt and seaweed. Those things were all I craved while I was surrounded by my eager companions from all over the world with their identical blue backpacks and program guides of presentations spread over 14 buildings and several days.

On the other hand, the bicycle rickshaw guys were aces! Better than taxis with the breeze in my face, less sardined than the Muni buses, my dedication to my rickshaw peddlers was something like the euphoria of adopting a kitten at the animal shelter. The separate peace was transcendent, a rolling air-bubble of serenity through the bumper-filled City streets. I could finally absorb some of avalanche of information from the conference with the air blowing in my face. I tipped.

And then recently I saw a clip about a guy who liked to sing Frank Sinatra style. He'd been blinded in the most extraordinary way. It seems that he had a common problem, sleep apnea. It doesn't seem so remarkable except that he had stopped breathing for a long enough to cut off the blood flow to his optic nerve, resulting in blindness.

I was thunderstruck. Well, maybe literally. It would be an understatement to say I snore. One of my friends told me that my husband MUST be a saint to put up with that for so many years. It's embarrassing. My goddess girls have learned practical ways of dealing with it, like putting me in separate sleeping quarters. When I go to Tarot conferences, I tend to pick roomies who are somewhat hard of hearing or all-night partiers. I try to spare them the worst of my nighttime serenade.

After I saw the Sinatra singer's story, I wrote a note to my doctor. Have we ever talked about this? I don't just snore like a freight train. Think 747's or Cape Canaveral rockets. Think super-villains with world-threatening sonic weapons. And I don't just snore. I laugh, talk, whistle, sing, fight demons with mad martial arts skillz, hell, I even talk on the phone--I do just about everything except walk in my sleep. Walking might give whoever is in the room with me a break, you know? Apparently my subconscious draws the line somewhere. I've heard of CPAP machines that might help.

One night's Sleep Clinic testing showed that on average I naturally stop breathing around 79 times per hour. Stop. Breathing. 79 times per hour. It's like an all-night panic attack. One of the questionnaire items was Do you feel more tired when you get up in the morning than when you go to bed at night? Uh. Yeah.

Cue Star Trek's Bones (Doc McCoy) shaking his head saying, "She's dead, Jim."

In Tarot the Queen of Swords is the Queen of Air and Darkness, the recipient of logic, the supporter of knowledge, the disciple of Truth. She is classically the smartest girl in the deck. Often she is unhappy and often she likes to share, not to make people unhappy too, but so they know the truth. She is without romance, but not without feeling. She knows the Truth often isn't pretty. But the Truth is something you can hang onto, even if it's like hanging onto the sharp end of the sword.

Picture Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord
It was time for me to call upon my inner Queen of Swords. I needed more air in the darkness before I lost brain cells or an optic nerve or something I valued.

On the first week with the CPAP machine, I went from stopping breathing an average of 79 times per hour to 7 times per hour. I actually LIKE mornings now. They'd really like it if I got that 7 down to 4 or fewer because, well, stopping breathing is just not good for your heart, your head, your weight, your sanity. It's a long list.

I'm fortunate that I have access to health care so that I can get the right mix of air all night long. My dreams have changed and have become more fun, although I did dream of Leonard Cohen the night before he died. Leonard had never been a guest in my dreams before, so it was nice to meet him on his way out. He was friendly, neighborly, positive, pleasant.

They are still experimenting with the right model of machine is perfect to shove a little more oxygen into my bloodstream. And my nosecone does make me look a little like part of the Borg collective, 6 of 4, I've dubbed myself--not that good at math.

The harsh truth can be like shoving air down your throat. You can fight it with a panic attack or you can treat it like the joy a dog has with his schnozz stuck out the car window. Sniff ALL the sniffs, I say.

Oh, and I'm told I don't snore anymore. Score.

Best wishes.

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