A pawn in the rush to prevent the Zombie Apocalypse

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I’ve finally figured it out: The doctors are trying to kill me. They’re in collusion. But I’m onto them now.

Ha ha!

Yes, they’ve repeatedly threaded wires through the veins in my legs and attempted to fry me from the inside. They’ve squeezed my breasts between cold glass plates until they nearly burst and splattered all over the wall, and then zapped them with radiation. And yet, I didn’t catch on. Nor did I when they made me swallow 10 gallons of tasteless goo that turned my intestines into a firehose, and then stuck a camera up where no camera belongs.

It wasn’t until I was sentenced to a lifetime of sleeping with a mechanical octopus strapped to my face that the truth started to emerge. It began when I was diagnosed with (alleged) sleep apnea. The doc told me I’d adapt to the C-PAP in about a week and soon, I’d feel like a new person.

He was right. I certainly do feel like a totally new person: exhausted to the marrow, stumbling through the day in a sleep-deprived, slack-jawed haze, occasionally just pointing at things to communicate because I can’t remember the words, my brain shrunken like a sun-dried tomato, sucking my eyeballs into the back of their sockets.

You say I’ve looked glassy-eyed lately? Seem a bit addled and out of it? Well, now you know why. And here you just assumed I’ve been spending too much time down at Main Street Cellars.


My (alleged) sleep apnea is aggravated by lifelong, hardcore insomnia. My internal alarm clock rings at 2:30 a.m. — if I make it that far, because every little thing wakes me up. A cat’s paws padding across the carpet jolts me awake. The tiny LED light from a cell phone recharger is a glowing beacon. A wrinkle in the sheets feels like a rope under my back. And now, someone thought I’d sleep whilst tethered by my face to a little humming machine that crashes to the floor if I turn over because the hose is entangled under my arm.


I toss and turn, tugging on the headgear, readjusting the mask when it gets an air leak that whooshes like a jet engine and sucks cold air across my face and into my eyes. Bottom line, I feel exponentially worse than I’ve ever felt in my whole life, and told the doc so upon my first C-PAP checkup.

I explained my nightly struggles with Ganesh’s gas mask, and he deduced that my mouth was falling open. With my nosepiece-only style of mask, the machine was just forcing the air right back out my mouth like a reverse jet engine. I was actually getting less oxygen with the C-PAP than without.

That was when the death plot crystallized in my mind and, ironically, if not for a two-month sleep-fast of Vision Quest proportion, priming me with exhaustion-induced enlightenment, I might not have spotted it. I haven’t figured out why they’re trying to kill me, because they make way more money off me while I’m alive, but I will. I’m playing along with their wily plan until I get to the bottom of it.

So. Given that the C-PAP was sucking my will to live for real, the doc said I’d need a new mask that covers my mouth too. Then he started questioning me about my “sleeping” patterns. I told him I’m in bed by 9:30, thrash around in a neither awake nor asleep never-neverland until 2:30, and then rip the C-PAP mask from my face and spend the next two or three hours trying to talk myself down from C-PAP frustration by listening to relaxation CDs and doing visualizations and meditations, and finally falling back asleep just in time for the alarm clock to go off.

“You’re spending too much time in bed,” he declared, and prescribed “Sleep Restriction Therapy.” In order to hit the reset button on my topsy-turvy circadian rhythms, I must stay awake until midnight, and progressively later, until I can find the magic hour that makes me sleep until 7 a.m.

Stay awake longer to cure insomnia? Do they also tell anorexics to eat less to gain weight?

Despite my exhaustion, I’m managing to stay awake by looking at insomniac’s porn — YouTube videos of cute cats. I haven’t found the magic bedtime that keeps me from popping awake at 2:30 a.m., and rather suspect that it’s 2:31 a.m. Cumulatively, I’m now getting three less hours of “sleep” per night, most of it spent wrestling with the hose and picking at the headgear, and fretting because I can’t scratch my nose without creating a wind tunnel in my head. I think I’d have to be dead to feel much worse, which is what I told the technician who called to see how things were going with the C-PAP.

“Wow, bummer” was her essential reaction, accompanied by a suggestion to call my doctor in a few months if it doesn’t get any better. A few more months? I’ll be a total zombie.


Maybe I was wrong. Maybe the docs aren’t trying to kill me after all. Maybe they’re trying to identify the exact point when humans become zombies. And not a moment too soon, because the Zombie Apocalypse is upon us, my friends. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have even issued a statement on it, advising the public on dealing with the walking dead in light of the recent spate of zombie-like attacks in the news.

But maybe they aren’t zombies at all. Maybe they’re just wildly exhausted insomniacs with (alleged) sleep apnea, forced to wear an octopus strapped to their faces and stay awake in order to sleep. Trust me, you become one of the walking dead. I wonder how long it’ll be before a homeless guy’s face starts to look like a Big Mac to me.

— Email Debra at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com, www.edebra.com and www.ipinion.us

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