By Kristine Laco
Sleep apnea has created more than just sleeping problems; it has created a unique worry for those people who don’t suffer a sleep disorder. An alarming number of Americans have sleep apnea — more than 22 million American adults, and that number is increasing rapidly. The number of people who wear a CPAP breathing apparatus to sleep is growing as well. I personally don’t know anyone who doesn’t sleep with a CPAP, but I was surprised to learn that maybe I have been lied to.
“I feel ostracized,” a bright-eyed, clear-skinned mother of two-year-old twins told us. She preferred not to be identified to avoid additional stigma. “I’ve been pushed out of playdate groups, I’ve been uninvited to coffee hour after yoga, and I get shushed in conversation in the schoolyard,” she told me in a whisper without a hint of a yawn. “I wish I had never mentioned my good night’s sleep.”
I found a new support group in a dark, musty church basement on the outskirts of town. It felt very clandestine, and I was uncomfortable immediately. They call themselves the RPAPs — Resting Peacefully Anonymous People. Each of the members smelled of lavender oil and contentment.
The leader of the group legally changed her name to Apnea to avoid ridicule. “I tried to fake my way through conversations about how poorly I was sleeping, even learning how to yawn at an acting class,” she confessed. “But it didn’t work. I was outed when I failed to panic when the drugstore ran out of distilled water.” She shook off the memory. “We had to switch school districts as our daughters were complaining that they were never invited to sleepovers. I know that was my fault.”
Apnea tells me her toddlers would drink coffee right before bed so they could be tired and fit in at school.
When Apnea moved her family 50 miles away, she took the opportunity to change her name. “Now I can freely talk about sleep apnea, and no one knows I am talking about how well I, Apnea, sleep,” she added with a giggle. Her kids have assimilated to the new neighborhood with ease and have graduated to Red Bull before sleepovers.
This week’s meeting was entitled: How to Wake with CPAP Lines on Your Face. Next week is How to Complain About Cleaning Your CPAP.
“This group is really a community service,” Apnea explained. “We have sessions planned on how to distill your own water, how to fake the sleep clinic test, and even how to breathe plain air,” she told me with pride. “My goal is to have secret meetings all over the world first thing in the morning when we are all well rested.”
About the Author
Kristine Laco shares her stories at AdultingInProgress.com with a splash of sarcasm and a pinch of bitch. She lives in the Toronto area and is a stay-at-home mother of two kids aged 17 and 15 and a fur-baby. Her middle finger is her favorite. You can find more from her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.