By the time she met me, my wife had already put up with her fair share of snoring: Her late mother, bless her heart, sounded like the devil’s motorcycle.
I never knew I had a problem. I assumed I was tired, cranky, and forgetful because I was a parent, not because I was snoring. My wife, however, informed me I’d become a menace when I slept on my back. For two years she’d roll me onto my side and build a barricade of pillows so I wouldn’t topple back down. I’d topple anyway. She’d send me to the couch, or—and this is what broke my heart and made me seek help—she’d stagger off herself, trailing her blanket like Linus in “Peanuts.”
I called a clinic I’ll refer to as the Crystal Dreamery. Turns out, there was a whole industry waiting to determine if my snoring was benign (that is, harmful to my marriage but not my health) or a sign of sleep apnea (scarier because this would mean I stopped breathing repeatedly).
The first step was a consult with an ENT doctor. He gave me a home sleep monitor so I didn’t have to spend the night in some weird pod, like Michael Jackson. My diagnosis: apnea. I needed either a Top Gun–style mask to force air down my throat or a pointy, custom-made mouthpiece to nudge my lower jaw forward, widen my airway, and make me look like an inbred vampire. Either way, Crystal Dreamery would charge my insurance company about $5,000, though my out-of-pocket costs wouldn’t top $300.
I went the vampire route. I could have bought a generic guard for $50, but I like a medical professional in the loop when I contemplate the flow of oxygen to my brain. Still, it felt like a shakedown of the insurance company. The snore guard worked, but it broke three times.
It was around this time that I noticed a similar device at my son’s orthodontist, nestled on a shelf next to casts of terrifying tween teeth. The doctor told me he could make me a quasi-bionic mouth guard for $350. We’re still waiting to hear if insurance will cover it, but I’m not losing sleep either way. It works like a vampiric charm.
My wife’s only complaint is that the guard makes me lisp. So I don’t talk when it’s in. She’s the love of my life, and she deserves some peace and quiet.
Jeff Giles’s novel, The Mercy Rule, will be published next year by Bloomsbury. You can follow him on twitter @MrJeffGiles.
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