Saturday, November 7, 2015

There's Another Woman ......

There have been other women in my husband's life before. His mom. Our two daughters. The women our sons married. But this one is entirely different. Unforeseen. Recent. One who came without warning and whose presence my heart met with ambivalence and fear. 

Zoe. That's her name. 

She's been part of our lives for almost a month now. And I've learned to accept her. Actually, she is all her name says she is ... Zoe means "life," and she is just that to Wayne and me and our relationship. 

Before you call me crazy, let me explain ...

We had a scare in early September, you see. Had the outcome been different, I could be without my husband now. And I know there are many out there who have had to face this loss in their lives, so I am not making light of this reality or taking our own near-brush lightly. No, not lightly at all. 

On September 3rd, Wayne had stroke. It happened in the very early morning as he was waking, rather than when he was driving to work on the 24-mile-long Causeway Bridge, which could have caused a horrific accident and taken many lives, including his own. By God's grace, I recognized what was happening, and we got him to the hospital. 

Doctors aren't sure what happened or why. He didn't have the normal precursors or warnings. So far, tests and labs have proven inconclusive as the the "why" of the event; all the tests merely confirm that he did indeed have a stroke. 

One of the tests that doctors ordered done was a sleep study. This has been the only test so far that has had a positive result: Wayne does indeed have severe sleep apnea, also known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). He actually stops breathing over 30 -50 times an hour while sleeping. I knew he had some serious snoring issues, but....

That's when we learned that we would have a third presence in our bedroom at night, a CPAP machine. It was hard for me to get used to the idea of Wayne sleeping hooked up to a machine which makes him resemble an elephant. The first time he donned the mask, our dog Sugar had no idea what to make of it. She just stared at him, like he'd grown another head ... well, a longer nose, at least. 

I'd heard many horror stories of how difficult sleeping with these machines can be. Noisy. Mask issues. Frustration that could be so bad that it caused the OSA sufferer to choose to take his or her chances without it, rather than to endure the machine. 

And I made up plenty more of my own: 

How will we sleep comfortably with him attached to a tube? 
Will we ever be able to snuggle again? 
What if he can't adjust to it? 
What if he can?
Will life ever seem normal again?

A good friend of ours counseled us, before we even got the machine, to name it, for we would need to view it as a friend. 

That's when Zoe was born.

I am happy to report that there is life after an OSA diagnosis, after the addition of a CPAP machine to your life. In fact, life is really good. That man hasn't snored one single time since Zoe arrived on the scene. We can actually sleep in the same bed, in the same room, in the same house! Wayne isn't covered with bruises from where I've had to elbow him all night long to hush the grizzly! And we have a little peace of mind; we may not know why he had the initial stroke, but we do know that his brain is no longer oxygen-deprived during sleep. 

So I just want to be a beacon of hope and a word of encouragement to anyone facing similar life changes. Life is an adventure! Embrace it!