Big Brother is reading the radio signals

By Carolyn Marsh | Dec 18, 2009

I'm having a hard time feeling sorry for Tiger Woods, formerly the face and now the farce of professional golf. I wonder how he'll sustain body and soul on less than $100 million a year.

But not to worry. I'm sure John Boehner will step up to take on the role of the lynx of the links. After all, he's spent more than $82,000 on his golf game to date this year. I can't remember the level of skill he has attained -- something like scratch 7, but how should I know? -- and he's played at some mighty fancy golf clubs. I do wonder how the people who contributed to his PAC feel about his use of those funds, however. I don't think I'd be awfully happy. I mean, I'm not happy and I'm not even a Republican!

Speaking of Republicans, how long must we wait for someone to put Joe Lieberman out of our misery?

I got a call from the CPAP Police the other day. Having recently been diagnosed with mild sleep apnea (and was I glad to know why I slept so poorly! I'd about gotten to the point where I thought that if this was the kind of sleep that comes with getting older, then I'm not interested), I've been trying to use the CPAP machine, which forces air down your nose in case your airway collapses. Which it does on a regular basis, if you have sleep apnea. It was late afternoon, as I recall. Mr. Iceman was helping me ice my knee. I didn't recognize the number in the Caller ID, but the person on the other end greeted me as though we were old friends. Which in a way, I guess, we were. Hi, Carolyn, he said chirpily. This is (call him) Tom with (call it) Health Care. You were doing really great with your CPAP machine for a while, but you haven't been using it the past three or four days. Is anything the matter?

I can't say I was flabbergasted. There is a little antenna attached to the machine, and when it was bestowed on me I was cautioned that it was sending radio signals somewhere. I got the impression Medicare was keeping an eye on me, and that if I didn't use the machine for at least four hours a night it was going to be ripped from my arms. As it happened, an allergy had made it impossible for me to breathe with the CPAP mask on, and frankly, when it came to choosing between breathing or making Medicare happy, Medicare was simply nowhere.

I told (call me) Tom as much, and he said he would note it on my chart. There was a slightly admonitory tone to his voice, so I hastened to tell him that I was determined to do better. And I have. Liberally laced with a nasal decongestant, I can breathe and do CPAP at the same time. I can even sleep with it, though the tube, which is about 5 feet long and for which I bought a forest-green fleece cover, tends to turn up in some really astonishing places. And at the great risk of sounding completely politically incorrect, I will tell you that I now have an inkling of what waterboarding must be like. I was awakened one night from a sound sleep by a noise. (Probably a cat being sick. Why don't people say "sick as a cat" instead of "sick as a dog"? Cats are always sicker than dogs.) And I leapt out of bed (well, leapt is a little strong; crawled is more like it), completely forgetting that I was tethered to the CPAP. The machine fell off the shelf and landed upside down on the rug. I didn't tell you that it has a water reservoir so the air that is being forced down your nose is moist. The air was still being forced through the tube, but it was accompanied by a lot of water that also got forced down my nose. That's when I panicked. The mask is attached to the face by a complicated series of rubber webs, and it is impossible to get free unless you are paying a lot of attention. I don't think it took more than a few seconds to extricate myself, but they were mighty unpleasant seconds, believe me.

I have a suggestion for the Maine Department of Transportation. I think it's great that you have to take an eye test to get a driver's license, but it might help if a reading test were required too. Widespread illiteracy is the only reason I can think of for the sublime disregard with which people treat the new-ish traffic sign at the corner of Elm and School streets. For people driving north on Route 1, it reads "Traffic turning right and opposing traffic does not stop." (I think it says "right." It's actually left if you're the traffic but maybe it defers to the people who are supposed to be stopped at the stop sign. Then again, maybe it says "traffic turning left." I checked it out a minute ago, but my memory doesn't last but a few seconds anymore.) It does not say stop and then go, and there were several occasions last week when I had to speak very sternly to the people who were trying to sneak through in front of my turn. You know who you are, and so do I. Let this be a warning.

I will not bore you with the details of the promotion that won me a trip to Central Florida. It afforded me a glimpse into another world (and I don't mean Florida), and the salesman who was assigned to me was a darling (when I wished him better luck with his next client, he said it couldn't be worse), but it is something I don't need to do again. Which is why I stopped at the supermarket on the way home and ordered four dozen bags of kitty litter. Maybe I won't have to do that again either, at least for a little while.

Carolyn Marsh is communications director for the Picker Institute in Camden.



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