3 years of being awake and awaker and awaking

It’s coming up on that time of year where i get to reflect on the changes my life has undergone since i began being treated for sleep apnea. In a few days, it will have been three years since i began sleeping with a bi-pap assisting my breathing at night.

When a stroke patient [that survives], receives an MRI, the damaged and necrotic tissue in the brain can be seen and quantified. The reason i bring this up is because of a conversation i had with my otolaryngologist. For years i felt stupid. I was unable to grasp basic concepts, follow instruction and was prone to being moody [not to mention my insatiable hunger and continual drive to sleep]. The first morning i had after using the bi-pap was a turning point in my life. I’ve written extensively about this. What i couldn’t understand then that i have since realized is that i believe that after 15-18 years of being oxygen deprived at night [to recap: my hypoxia index was at 53% and continuing to fall during my initial sleep study], it’s entirely within the realm of possibility to consider that a prolonged lack of oxygen would have an impact on my brain. Brain tissue wouldn’t be necrotized, as is with the case of stroke victims.

I ran this question by my otolaryngologist- Is it possible that i endured brain damage of some sort with more than a decade and a half of low oxygen at night? I dreaded asking the question for fear of the answer.

His answer was that it is entirely possible but unquantifiable. I believe he said it would be difficult to not believe that i could have gone that long with my level of apnea [112 stoppages/ hour] without it having an impact on my brain.

My first two years of assisted sleep, I spent that time just marveling at how the quality of my life improved. I wont recap this experience other than to say it was like shedding a desiccated husk from my mind and body [reference: The 15 Year Nap]. It was a life changing experience to say the least. I also spent those two years taking stock of all the destruction i brought into my life and wrought upon others.

And while i continue to do those things, i have spent the last year becoming more and more aware of the changes going on in my brain. I continue to feel changes happen. I can’t quantify it, i can’t prove it but i also know nerves are capable of healing, albeit slowly. I know that the neural paths that brains create for basic motor skills as well as higher cognitive thought can, over time, be rerouted.

The immediate changes to me are a clarity that continues to grow. This is what creates the second change- my growing restlessness with what my life is right now. I spent so many years simply surviving. Years of unemployment, a brutal break-up that left me broken, six years of isolation, declining health and an increased weight [both results of apnea] fostered an environment where it was all i could do to survive. Thriving became a foreign concept; all that mattered was survival. Compound those with a broken sense of esteem and you have a scenario where i spent all my energy just surviving because not only was it all i was capable of but i began to believe i deserved nothing better.

I enjoy my job- i honestly do. On the other hand, i really don’t want to be considering retirement and still being just the “help desk bitch”. I have squandered potential like a drunken sailor on a whore run and now the bill has come due.

I’m not sure what i want to do when i grow up, so to speak. I work on computers and enjoy helping people. But if you were to ask me if it makes me happy, it does not. Part of that is because my concept of happiness changed so drastically after November 1998 but there’s a sober reality about technology that marketers and advertisers don’t want you to know- computers and technology will not make your life better. You will not become a better person because you have a laptop with flame decals striped down the side.

I’m going into a tangent here but there’s a serious self examination i have to make. I love my computers. I love playing video games [and especially my new addiction to Minecraft], i love playing TF2 with my clan, {PM} and i love bullshitting with them via Mumble. But if i were to weigh the satisfaction of all those things versus getting a painting done or having a new, positive experience, the former will always lose. Unfortunately one is easily accessible and the feedback loop is small. To create a new painting or work on a story requires an investment in time and has a longer feedback cycle.

I live with a sober reality that for my age, for my skills- well, rather for my potential, i’m a long ways from where i should be. I can’t incur a huge amount of debt for a profession that might not open to me once i’m done going back to school but i can’t remain the help desk bitch forever either. I have become stagnant in my profession but i’m not sure where to, or how for that matter, go from here.

I still have my voice and the urge to do something with it [for financial gain] comes and goes. I don’t think i’ll ever be rich off of it but it’s something i really need to sell more of. Maybe i can do a movie trailer that begins with ominous music and has me chime in… In a world where stupid people breed stupider children…