Pleasant dreams

February 25th, 2018 by John Morris

In September 2017, the Coatesville VA Hospital Doctor suggested I’d be tested for sleep apnea.  To me, my symptoms didn’t match his suggestion but I reasoned, he’s the Doctor, and it would be just another test in an nonending stream of tests.

The sleep test will be done at the Michael Crescenz Veterans Affairs Hospital in Philadelphia.  Turns out they have the VA’s regional Sleep Study.

At my first appointment, I was given an apparatus to circle my chest with stylish matching devices for the hand and face.  I took these machines home and hook them up.  The results of my sleep test would be transmitted directly to the Sleep Study folks.  Note: I love technology.

Despite the technician’s simple directions, I got the hook-up chore wrong, and it never recorded my sleep.  I discovered my misstep in the morning and called the Sleep Center.  I guess this must have happened enough for them to react with saint-like patience.  “Try again tonight, Mister Morris.  You seem to understand how it works.”  And so I did.

The result came back quickly.  “You are waking up at night at an average of 19 times an hour”.  Note the accepted average for older adults is 5 to 10.  These little shocks of wakefulness were robbing me of quality sleep and making fatigue a way of life.  A new appointment was next for a CPAP machine fitting.  Oh what joy is this?

Things can happen slowly with the VA, but this was not one of those times.  In two days, I travelled back to get my new gear.  But first there was a classroom lesson to endure.

I sat at a computer and watched an instructional video about the workings of CPAP machines and a cartoon-like rendition of how to put on the mask.

Amy, the sleep technician took me to her work station to explore how to set up the my new machine.  This took me back to my days at Fort Gordon, Georgia when I was learning now to operate radio teletype machines.  Except Amy was a better instructor than those “I love the Army” type I had then.

Amy tried on a small number of CPAP masks, and we decided the best for me was the full face mask due mostly to my tendency to be a “mouth breather”.

A lesson on how to clean the machine was drilled into me in a way that showed Amy did this routine a lot.

With this behind me, I was good to go; so I did.

That night, I set up my new sleep buddy and fully expected to have a major improvement in my condition in the morning.  This did not happen.  As the weeks passed, I reached out to others using CPAPs.  I was told it takes a while.  Weeks, maybe months before I would feel the positive effects.  Everyone said to stick with it.  The results are worth it.

My journey started in October 2017.  I have steadfastly stay with the CPAP program.  On February 22nd, I experienced my first night of restful sleep and my first high energy day.

Four month of sleeping with a plastic cup strapped to my face with its attached air hose forcing wind into my face has finally paid off.

The difference is easily measured.  After a poor night’s sleep, I can push myself to do chores, but I need to take rest breaks.  Following a good night’s sleep, I am active and do chores more effectively.

If sleeping with a CPAP machine can give me a better day, I’m all in.


The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.