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Jason Thayer


Oh, I’m doing okay, which is what people say when they aren’t doing very okay—mainly it’s a fatigue that’s been clinging to me, keeping my brain stuck like one lost sandal in fresh poured concrete, because, you see, in the last couple months, the very mild sleep apnea I’ve had for a while has progressed into pretty bad sleep apnea so that now I’m forgetting to breathe for long swaths of the night, drifting in and out of shallow slumber and, come morning, I’m finding myself perched on the edge of the couch in the living room zoned out before summoning enough focus and energy to stagger to the kitchen to mainline some instant coffee—which does help, and I know that a CPAP machine would also help, would get me more sleep, would force oxygen into my blood and ease the strain on my heart—would quell my low grade anxiety that the apnea will accelerate my genetic heart condition, tearing my faulty aortic valve, killing me in the middle of the night—but I don’t want this to be a sob story, I swear, I’m not looking for pity or concern because this isn’t about me—it’s about us, we the people who have been referred to overnight sleep clinics to get diagnosed, to get the right CPAP machine ordered, who have been told by our Molina Marketplace insurance that our doctor’s request for a polysomnography test has been denied, who are calling our primary care physicians to see what they can do, who are calling the insurance companies pleading, trying to jump through all of the necessary insurance company hoops, trying to expedite the process because the sleep doctors are already booked til mid June, and in the meantime we are strapping a basketball-stuffed Jansport to our backs while we sleep, to keep from rolling into the positions where we’re most vulnerable to the apnea, to the shallow breathing, to the non-breathing, and this isn’t a ‘poor us’ rant, but a fucking jeremiad because isn’t it so late-capitalism, isn’t it so America that someone is sleeping with a backpack strapped to them in the middle of a pandemic not because the sleep clinic is closed due to COVID concerns, but because the private insurance that conservatives and neo-liberals pray to is a deadbeat dad, dodging child support, living in Vegas with a younger woman and a new phone number?

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