Thursday, October 30, 2008
First, let's get this established: a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device is the coolest thing since sliced bread (ok, even I at my advanced age really don't remember UN-sliced bread, but I digress). I call it the "Magic Sleep Machine".
In 2006, I thought I was at the end of my rope. I could not lie down in the bed at all. My airflow would be cut off and I would panic. I had multiple panic attacks per night. This, if you've never had one, is a bad thing.
Because I wasn't sleeping, I couldn't perform many of the normal functions of life. I had progressed from sleeping in the bed (like a normal person) to sleeping on the couch, to sleeping on the couch propped up on many pillows, to sleeping in the recliner, to sleeping in the recliner straight-up, to just plain not sleeping. I was in a stupor most of the time.
I finally broke down and let the doctor run a sleep study; it changed my life. I woke up from it feeling WONDERFUL. Why? It was the first time I'd actually SLEPT in over TWO YEARS.
The day I got out of my sleep study was October 31, 2006. I went to the medical supply place and picked up my CPAP machine, and I have spent less than 5 nights without it since (those 5 nights being when I had forgotten it).
Which brings us to the topic: Travels with my CPAP, or, my Magic Sleep Machine.
First, forgetting it is a really bad thing. I literally will turn around and drive back home for it if I am within *100* miles of home and realize it is not in the car. It's that important.
Now, try to take a CPAP on an AIRPLANE----well, all hell breaks loose.
First, it's a rather ungainly device, pictured here. There's this long hose with a mask attached, and (one of my pet peeves about everything electronic) why, oh why must the adapter be the size of a small loaf of bread!??!
Since the thing costs over $1,000, you wouldn't dare check it; you have to carry it on.
When I travel, it's on business. I've got my little plastic baggie (thanks, Homeland Security, I feel all safe now....) full of tiny sizes of deodorant, toothpaste, and other essentials which cost the same as the giant econo-sized versions I have at home; I have my briefcase, with laptop (and adaptor, and air card, and phone charger (wall and car) and all the man-purse stuff I carry like my inhaler and dental floss and tic-tac (spearmint, if you must know). Plus, I'm superstitious enough about the airlines losing my bag that I carry on a change of underwear and one clean shirt.
This leaves me just enough room for the CPAP.
Ok, so i get to the security area, show my ID and boarding pass (to a very suspicious TSA rentacop! He done gradiated the 6th grade, like Jethro Bodine, and he's responsible for my SAFETY!), and get to the staging area.
America is still a wide and varied land. You think the airports are all standardized, but trust me, they are not. Some (like Houston Hobby) have these nice, long tables for your undressing ease. Others, like LAX, have these incredibly tiny little staging areas.
The CPAP has to go in its own little tub. No sharing, nosirree!
When you get the CPAP in its tub, the laptop in its tub, the personal articles including belt and shoes in their own tub, the real fun begins.
A wild-eyed TSA rentacop shouts (at the absolute top of their lungs) "WHOSE CPAP IS THIS!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!" "Mine", I mutter meekly (You will be assimilated; resistance is futile). "SIR, I'M GOING TO HAVE TO CHECK THIS "DEVICE" OUT, PLEASE FOLLOW ME!!!" (I'm standing right here, you don't have to shout it to the entire airport; besides (here it comes, but don't tell anybody) I've traveled before.
After they're done, they throw the CPAP at you and want you gone and like now. The magic happens when you get the hose (which acts like a vacuum cleaner hose) caught in the zipper of your bag and you get a hole (that right there is a new hose, $75).
While I'm on this particular subject, I've figured out what it is I hate about air travel. First, I used to LOVE air travel. I still love the sensation of flight. On our recent trip to Walt Disney World, I couldn't get enough of "Soarin". We did it 25 times or more in a week.
What I hate about modern plane travel, I've finally decided, is the shouting.
From the moment you arrive at the airport until the moment you are safely away, you are shouted at.
MAY WE HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE BAGS UNATTENDED. PLEASE REPORT ANY SUSPICIOUS BAGS TO THE NEAREST SECURITY PERSONNEL.
PLEASE HAVE YOUR BOARDING PASS AND ID OUT FOR THE SECURITY PERSON. YOUR BOARDING PASS AND ID ONLY. PLEASE REMOVE YOUR ID FROM YOUR WALLET OR PURSE.
IF YOU HAVE A LAPTOP, YOU MUST TAKE THE LAPTOP OUT OF THE BAG. SIR!!! SIR!!!! IS THAT A LAPTOP?! (Yes, you freaking moron, I've got it out of the bag and am placing my horribly expensive computer with my irreplaceable data on it on the conveyor for you to throw around like it was a rag doll).
WHOSE BREATHING MACHINE IS THIS?? AND ONE!!! AND ONE!!!!
MALE ASSIST!!!! FEMALE ASSIST!!!!
WELCOME TO TRANSAMERICANAIR FLIGHT 2346 NONSTOP SERVICE TO NOWHERESVILLE. WE WILL BE BOARDING BY ROWS FROM THE REAR OF THE AIRCRAFT. WE'D FIRST LIKE TO WELCOME OUR SUPER GOLD MEDALLION EXTRA UBERSPECIAL ULTRA PASSENGERS ON BOARD, IF YOU ARE A SUPER GOLD MEDALLION EXTRA UBERSPECIAL ULTRA PASSENGER, PLEASE PROCEED TO THE AIRCRAFT (THE REST OF YOU SCHMUCKS STAND THERE UNTIL I CALL YOUR ROW NUMBER AND DON'T YOU DARE STEP OUT OF LINE). YOU MAY PUT YOUR ID AWAY; WE DO *NOT* NEED TO SEE YOUR ID!!! STANDBY PASSENGER GAZINSKY, PLEASE REPORT TO THE DESK.
All this has made me tired. I think I'll go turn my Magic Sleep Machine and drift off to La-La Land.
(Malvie is traveling this weekend, and for the next two weeks, but he's going via Chrysler, which doesn't care if he has a Magic Sleep Machine or not)
Posted by Nick Jones at 6:10 PM