Thursday, December 29, 2016

Some Non Trump News on Apnea, Overtime, Ponytails and Slow Cooking

Enough about Donald Trump, already! You’d think the world revolves around him (okay, he believes that but there’s no reason for the rest of us to acquiesce in his egotism). 

So here’s a few of my non-Trumpian thoughts. 

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream: I dream a lot. A person dreams during shallow sleep prior to waking up. Which means I wake up a lot at night, for two reasons, one being an aging man’s health issue and, second, I suffer from sleep apnea.

Some may recall a blog post from two years ago about my visiting a specialist on sleep apnea testing at Mount Sinai Hospital. I never followed through on remedial treatment. Naturally, my condition worsened. As a result, I am perpetually tired while awake.

“Sleep apnea,” according to the National Institutes of Health, “is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.

“Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. When your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, you’ll often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep. As a result, the quality of your sleep is poor, which makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.”

My recent apnea test revealed that while sleeping on my back I experienced about 48 interruptions in an hour, waaaay more than acceptable.

Sleeping on one’s back also contributes to snoring, of which I am a champion practitioner. 

So what’s the upshot? My new sleep doctor specialist prescribed I sleep on my side. That’s how I usually start out, I told him, but I eventually end up on my back. He suggested I pin a bag of tennis balls to the back of my night shirt. The discomfort of landing on the tennis balls would startle me into returning to my side position. 

It worked but was quite awkward so I opted for a different Rube Goldberg approach—I placed a laaarge, firm pillow between Gilda and me to prevent my rolling over (it prevents more than that, but that’s another story altogether). Gilda reports my snoring has dramatically decreased, I am now sleeping in three to four hour bursts before awakening, roughly double my previous time periods, and I’m not as tired as before.

Next week I’m to meet my doctor to review my progress. He doesn’t recommend another alternative, wearing an appliance in my mouth to project my lower jaw forward to create a wider airway. But he might suggest a CPAP machine to blow air into my nose while I sleep. A friend who has used one for several years says he now finds it hard to sleep without it.

You might be wondering why I have told you about my apnea status. It’s because The New York Times ran a story Thursday on several initiatives to combat insomnia ( Interestingly, though it noted “insomnia and other temporary and recurring sleep disorders affect 50 million to 70 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health, and the effects only worsen as people grow older,” not once did the article make specific reference to apnea. 

As The Donald would say, “So sad.”

Death by Overtime: The Business section of The Times was chock full of articles I identified with Thursday, including one on “karoshi,” what the Japanese call “death from overwork.”

When our family visited Japan back in 1991, we heard about “karoshi.” The Japanese economy was booming. Workers paid the price. They labored long hours. It was not unusual for workers to die in their tracks, while walking or driving to work. Passersby would simply shake their heads from side to side and whisper knowingly, “Ah, karoshi.” 

The economy in the Land of the Rising Sun is not as vibrant as back then, yet companies still demand excessive hours from their workers, often without added pay. A woman employee of Dentsu, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, committed suicide last Christmas, ostensibly from working more than 100 hours of overtime each month. On Wednesday the president and chief executive of Dentsu accepted responsibility for her death and the corporate work environment. He said he would resign in January ( 

Here in America, overtime pay for salaried employees has become a political football. President Obama signed an executive order that raised the salary threshold for most salaried workers to receive overtime from $23,660 to $47,476 per year. But a federal court stayed the December 1 implementation of the rule, which Trump may well rescind especially since his designate to be secretary of labor is a fast food tycoon and many of those who would benefit from the rule work in retail and the foodservice industries.   

Pony Up: My wife wants me to grow a ponytail. It wouldn’t be the first time Gilda influenced my hair style. Some 40 years ago she convinced me to let my naturally kinky hair grow out into an afro.

Now, after watching one of the lead mobsters in the really absorbing Italian TV series Gomorrah sport a ponytail, she is lobbying for one for my unruly follicles. She is undeterred by my argument that the actor had jet black straight hair.

So if you see me looking rather unkempt do not think my extreme look is due to financial hardship. It is just another manifestation of my love. Or insanity.

Slow Cooking: Help! Anybody out there use a slow cooker crock pot? I’m looking for some kosher meat recipes.

I cashed in some hotel loyalty points before they expired for a 6-qt. crock pot. I love stew. Gilda doesn’t. So I’m more or less on my own. If you’ve got a winning recipe, send it to me.