Friday, 27 January 2023
Thursday, 26 January 2023
Doctor appointments, like the 3 I had in 2 weeks. (Mostly it’s because I emotionally freak out about it. I don’t like that but that’s what my body insists on right now.)
Medical tests, like the ultrasound I had during the same 2 weeks. (See above.)
Doing more physical things around the house, which for me includes more than 1 load of laundry or changing the sheets or carrying in a Costco run. (These currently take a lot of spoons.)
How about you?
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Tuesday, 17 January 2023
Like, on stilts. Marketplace – the NPR show that became a favorite commute listen and eventually a favorite podcast commute listen – discusses how a woman who spent $97.5k on her house ended up spending $100k (mostly from a FEMA grant) to raise it more than 8 feet.
Marketplace also has a podcast series on adapting to climate change called How We Survive. Season one is on making better batteries for electric vehicles and improve the electric grid; season two is on rising water levels, especially in Florida and the Gulf Coast.
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Monday, 16 January 2023
Thursday, 12 January 2023
Last week I noticed my jaw was hurting a bit. Always in the same place. Was something wrong? It went away over the weekend, but came back on Monday. It was bad enough on Monday that I called the dentist.
I soon had an appointment for Wed afternoon.
In the meantime, I took a Tylenol (which helped my jaw) and kept my GYN appointment.
Yeah, GYN. Mostly we’re monitoring some perimenopause-type things and treating uterine/fibroid bleeding with a hormone – progestin.
(Funny how “your hormones are a bit weird, let’s supplement” is old hat when you’re cis but Very Very Suspect if you’re trans but Oh Well…)
Anyway, visit went well, prescription renewed, request to schedule another ultrasound to see if the fibroids are growing, all good.
Tuesday night I realized “Hey, my jaw doesn’t hurt. It didn’t hurt at all today. Huh.”
Wednesday morning I was very conscious that (a) my jaw kept clenching and starting to grind my teeth and (b) I shouldn’t do that. I DO sleep with a night guard aka bite guard, and I DID remember to take it to the dentist with me. So we checked that it fits, it isn’t staring to crack, and so forth. Verdict was that the pain was probably due to stress and I should check during daytime that I’m not grinding my teeth.
Oh and I need two small filling that are completely unrelated to the pain I’d been having. Appointment in February. Joy.
Finally I have an appointment to do a brief blood check Thursday to confirm my blood thinner is at a good dosage for me.
- I really really tend to stress about medical stuff and I need to plan how to destress besides drinking coffee.
- I have time to do relaxing things.
- I don’t have to worry about everything in the news.
- It’s OK to spread these things out so I don’t have to do it all in one week.
Anyway, time to see if the imaging center has the info to schedule my ultrasound.
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Wednesday, 11 January 2023
These days I use the blow-dryer on crevices and wear tummy liners instead of baby powder. (Yay not getting baby powder everywhere.) I continue the use of antifungals as needed, usually in other crevices.
Ah, the morning shower. Warm water to get the kinks out, bright overhead heat lamps to help wake me up, and the daily question: shampoo & condition or just rinse & condition?
To explain: I have naturally curly hair, which is also naturally fragile hair, which I’ve made more fragile by coloring it. Some recommend that you don’t use shampoo at all, set it with clips, airdry, use a diffuser, et cetera. I could spend time and money straightening it, but frankly I don’t have the patience. My hair is a bit like my body in that it takes some specialized care, and I’m working with it instead of trying to negate it. ;)
But back to my shower. How does being very fat affect showering? My belly doesn’t just stick out – it also droops. So do… [hm, perhaps I should warn you that this is another frank post that may be a bit, oh, too much information for some folks…]
My breasts droop too. I do have a handheld showerhead, which makes it easier to rinse under my belly & the girls. Using fixed showerheads when traveling does take a bit longer to get everything positioned and rinsed correctly.
After showering and toweling off, I lie down on the bed, lift up my belly “overhang”, and make sure the underneath is dry. Then I sprinkle some talcum powder in the fold and brush it about to cover the skin. I usually brush some powder under my breasts and where my legs meet my torso, too. I try not to use too much – I still blush at memories of powder falling out on the bed with a new beau – but I definitely want enough that I can move freely without causing chafing.
Why do I do this? For years I had horrible yeast infections & jock itch in the folds of my skin. Especially under my belly, but also under my breasts and in the crotch. Not only were they icky and smelly, but at their worst they’d provide a constant level of pain whenever I moved, which resulted in me limiting my mobility. I do keep Lotramin spray & powder on hand to deal with the occasional flare-up, but the talc is the best preventative I’ve found.
After ensuring that my underbelly will remain dry, I wash my hands and get out the moisturizer. I’ve had dry skin since I was a child – one of my earliest memories is feeling a parent’s warm hands rubbing moisturizer into my back. Wiping moisturizer onto my arms, breasts, belly and legs not only prevents itching (ick!) but is an act of self-care. (I also massage moisturizer into my feet before putting on socks. My feet work hard & I like them!)
Then it’s time to start fiddling with my hair. :)
Updates and more info:
In July 2009, Well-Rounded Mama posted a much more in-depth discussion of jock itch, skin yeast, and related infections and their treatments.
On the more serious end, Skin Integrity in Critically Ill Obese Patients discusses the care of skin, wounds, and so on when immobilized due to critical illness or surgery.
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Tuesday, 10 January 2023
Since I wrote this there’s been a bunch of changes.
I got an adapter that let me feed video from VHS to my computer. I made digital video copies of the various segments from the VHS tape. This lets me customize things a bit, such as doing a segment multiple times to work out more. Also reduces wear on an already old tape.
After I had a blood clot block blood flow to my lungs (pulmonary embolism) my cardiovascular ability decreased greatly. My main aerobic exercise has been on our treadmill at home. Post-hospital, I started walking around the house. Then I’d walk on the treadmill for an episode of The Hidden Almanac podcast – about 3 minutes. It’s been a slow recovery but I am getting more energy and stamina.
I don’t do this every day. But if I’m doing it, it’s before my shower. I use a copy of the Women At Large: 30-Minute Workout I picked up years ago.
I do make a few modifications. Such as:
- I often sit during the first few starting stretches. This is because I’m not exactly a morning person and usually am dragging my feet on starting. Sitting while doing the opening arm and shoulder stretches lets me indulge my inner foot-dragging 4-yr-old while I wake up a bit more.
- The instructor’s hamstring stretch doesn’t really stretch mine, so I usually do other stretches then.
- The second song has the instructor shifting weight from one side to another with lots of arm movements. I tend to step from one foot to another to get my heartbeat up faster; this also puts less torque on my knees.
- One move involves leaning forward, which would sometimes irritate my back. Now that I do more abs/back exercises, I don’t have this problem.
- The third thru fifth songs are all faster-paced. I tend to do these just like the instructor.
- The floor work tends to relax me and leave me ready to go back to sleep…so I skip it.
Why do I do this?
- It wakes me up. (Remember: Not exactly a morning person!)
- It gets the kinks out of my arms & shoulders.
- It’s enough of a workout to get my heart into the “aerobic range” and make me feel more alive, but not enervated or hurting :)
- It’s good for my health in general & cardiovascular health in particular.
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Monday, 9 January 2023
Saturday, 7 January 2023
Grocery shopping is simply a part of life. No matter what is going on in the world or. your own life, you will eventually need supplies and food. Growing up I didn’t really have grocery shopping modeled for me in a normal way. My father worked at Gemco, which had a grocery department, and would do the majority of our shopping on his paydays before leaving work. When Gemco shut down entirely, my dad worked for a grocery store and then a grocery outlet. This is when I first got a fuller grasp of what grocery shopping actually was. My family was poor and it was the eighties so there were a lot of yellow generic boxes with black lettering. Brand names rarely made it into our cart or home. My parents didn’t take any sort of pride or enjoyment in cooking either, it was all simply necessity.
Years later when I met my abuser, and after I had dropped out of school, he would force me to go grocery shopping with him and make him steak dinners and such, I was 14 years old (he was 21). He expected and demanded that I act a certain way in public with him. I hated every second. Because public restrooms are gendered, he would never let me use them, lest I try to escape his clutches. This created a lot of stress and tension. He forced me to write bad checks a few times as well, it was humiliating when the grocery store finally caught on. We didn’t have cookbooks in the house and the internet was years off from being in homes, so I mostly relied on McCormick seasoning packets for recipes and preparation instructions in general.
When I escaped my abuser for good I would do quick grocery runs with my roommate but that didn’t last either. I soon relied almost entirely on lean cuisine’s frozen entrees, Cuervo Gold tequila (bought by friends until I was of age), Taco Bell’s #1 combo meal, occasional mall food, and the kindness of my grandma who would pack me a lunch for work any time she saw me, no matter what time of day or night. It was the late nineties by then and I was working at a music store in a mall and a music industry magazine on weekends promoting new artists. Food at that time was something I didn’t want to think about. I struggled with anorexia since I was 14 and while I didn’t know it then, it was a way for me to feel some semblance of control in my life that carried on into my late twenties.
When I moved in with B in ’99, I really had to start from scratch and figure things out in the real world so to speak. We figured things out together which was wonderful. We started with lots of frozen things because it was easier to prepare. Looking back I’m really impressed with our early years together, we really were a team. When I would make quick grocery runs on my own I would be anxious but it wasn’t unbearable and I didn’t yet know as much about anxiety and C-PTSD and triggers and stuff. When we went to the store together we would focus on each other and chat and laugh the whole time. On my own I tried to get in and out as quickly as possible. Little things started to happen in those solo trips though, other shoppers would give me death stares and seemed to go out of their way to block my path. Figuring it was just coincidence or folks didn’t see me, I didn’t think much of it. Soon though it all escalated.
I really started to notice an escalation in hate and harassment when I was vegan for five years. This is when I, and my then husband, really learned how to cook. I got real into Alton Brown and Rachel Ray, despite who and what they are today, they really made cooking accessible to me then and I will never forget that. This is also when I first set foot in a Whole Foods. I came home very upset once after going to Whole Foods (WF from now on), a woman had hit my cart with hers and then later trapped me in an aisle with her cart and because of an ill placed pillar I couldn’t get away. She didn’t say anything to me, but it was plain as day that there was pure hate in her eyes. My then husband insisted it was some “psycho” (we used that word so much in the 90’s, how embarrassing) and an isolated incident, nothing to worry about. It was not isolated though. This was the early 00’s and the “Obesity Epidemic” was in the news everywhere, and there I was a size 26/28 just trying to live my life.
Whole Foods became a saving grace for the ingredients I needed for my recipes, but the harassment got so much worse. People would put things in my cart, take things out of my cart, make remarks about things in my cart, even take my whole damn cart. People would make full eye contact with me and then hit me with their cart quite pointedly. And I do mean hit me and not my cart. They would knock things on the ground beside me and then give me the stink eye as though I had done it. They would say things to me in check out their mothers would be embarrassed to repeat! I’ve been hit with strollers and elbows too. Gawd do haters love to throw a fucking elbow, I swear! Not once did any have remorse or offer an apology. I’m sure most if not all assumed they were doing me a massive favor by harassing and assaulting me. At that point in my life I simply didn’t have the self esteem to fight back or speak up. Any time I would share what happened with others they would insist it was a one time thing and not to worry about it.
After my divorce, I worked for a few startups and didn’t do much grocery shopping for myself, preferring takeout or restaurant meals with friends. Then I got maybe the worst job of my life at a startup that refused outside services and instead paid me to go to WF every week (sometimes more) and get two full carts of groceries for the small staff in that office. This is when things took a severe turn. To me it was plain as day that someone who had two full shopping carts with the store employees assisting me in fulfilling my list that it wasn’t for me alone, but that doesn’t matter when you’re a hardcore, WF shopping, fat hater. Once in checkout with my two carts this woman in her late 60’s walked over from 3 checkouts away to stand very close next to me and watch as I pulled each item out of the cart and place it on the belt. I mean she was standing maybe 12 inches from me with the sternest glare you’ve ever seen. This was almost $2k in groceries and this lady really and genuinely thought I was some monster who would belly the lot of it in a few hours time. The cashier was hella confused, but I knew her deal. We all do, right? You know why someone is behaving that way around you when you’re fat or otherwise marginalized in a way that doesn’t suit them. And that’s really all it is, it isn’t about me as a person, it’s about my existence and visibility and how dare I or anyone appear so revolting in the presence of WF shoppers?! The nerve! Ha-ha!
When I left that job I swore I would never shop at a WF again. I switched to Trader Joe’s for a time and loved it, but the harassment didn’t subside there, and their parking lots are always a nightmare. There is something about WF and TJ shoppers, and entitlement/elitism that makes me not fit with their vibes I guess. When I moved back to my hometown for a few years I would pass a WF store on my way home everyday. After a particularly exhausting day and train ride from the city, I decided to check out the hot bar at WF and it was glorious! I loved their pot roast, hadn’t had it since my grandma passed away and would never cook such a thing for myself. I ended up hitting up that hot bar at least twice a month for awhile. It was a sort of saving grace when things went south at a job I actually liked. I never got the same harassment at that particular location, but I was usually in and out before anyone could clock me anyway.
After years of anxiety, panic attacks, harassment and more, in December 2018 I finally made the switch to delivery only grocery shopping. I had just moved into my first apartment on my own and had invited friends over for a holiday cocktail evening with lots of tasty treats and bites all made by me. I went bananas, too! I made a blackberry based vodka cocktail thing with lustre dust in nice glass bottles I gave as gifts that year. At that point I simply didn’t have the time to shop but still needed supplies. My little cocktail party was a hit and my homemade concoctions were enjoyed by all. I have a family owned grocery store about a block away from my apartment, but I rarely go in there unless I absolutely have to. Grocery delivery has been such a gift to myself. I would often get sensory overload in grocery stores even without the harassment and it could trigger a panic attack. I had a bf once joke about it because I said the checkout lanes at Target feel like they have heat lamps above them. I really just couldn’t put myself through all that again (or date anyone so rude, selfish, and callous either).
When the pandemic first hit I felt even better about my grocery delivery life. Even when shortages forced some random substitutions, my delivery placed did well in communicating and crediting and such. Then my gallbladder went bad on me and what I could eat shrank down to like 5 single items of food. Knowing I could rely on that grocery delivery gave me such peace of mind. Like, hello, nobody can bully or harass me if I don’t leave my fucking house! It felt like a win when nothing else in the world could. I realize that some may see this as letting the haters win, but I don’t. Even without direct harassment grocery stores were never an easy thing for me to handle. I am glad that I have other options now. I am also very glad that more people have access to delivery options. It really is a huge amount of bullshit and stress off my shoulders and that was all before I had long covid. Now I cannot imagine trying to do a full shop in person, I would likely pass out.
I did recently enter a grocery store for the first time. I had to buy some supplies for a work happy hour. I messaged one of our EA’s in the office to ask her if anything had changed, what should I expect and explained that I didn’t want to look like a weirdo. She misunderstood my message and brought it up in front of my whole team! I was mortified but only briefly as my team is awesome and once I explained they completely understood my concern. And I survived! I didn’t enjoy it at all, like not in any measurable amount what so ever. I had a few moments of near-panic but talked myself through and I didn’t need much stuff so it was a quick trip. I don’t plan on doing that again if I can help it, but glad to know I can manage it still if needed. I think spending so much time literally alone has become helpful in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. I know right away when I’m being triggered now when before I would never have enough time between recognizing a trigger and a panic attack coming on. I think anything affecting my peace is immediately apparent now whereas years ago I would mask and try to be normal or whatever before actually taking care of my need to feel safe.
Having said aaaaallllll of this, the next time someone tries to fuck with me in a grocery store is getting an elbow thrown their way before the words get to leave their dry-ass lips! I’m done! Ha!
I’m here for realness and sincerity, honesty and vulnerability, I’m here for the good and juicy bits of life that shine for me when I know I’m heading in the right direction.
Rad Fatty Love to ALL,
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Friday, 6 January 2023
This post was originally written in 2015. These days I’m much more aware of what I call the “thyroid pause”, the 30-60 minutes that I am wait after taking the thyroid pill before eating or taking other meds. I often wake up, check the time, take thyroid, and go back to sleep. Other times I take the thyroid, run to the bathroom, use inhaled meds, otherwise start my day while waiting until I can take the other meds and eat breakfast. I use a TimerCap bottle to confirm how long it’s been since I took the thyroid med.
I started taking levothyroxine this fall, and got the standard spiel from the pharmacist:
- Take first thing in the morning.
- Do not eat anything else for 30 to 60 minutes after, including other oral medication.
- Do not take with calcium or iron supplements for 4 hours after taking levothyroxine.
“You CAN have coffee!” the pharmacist chirped happily. I was happier when she confirmed I could have my inhaled asthma meds.
This has been an adjustment. I was concerned it would bring up the anger-rebellion response I usually have had when dieting for weight loss. As it turns out, it hasn’t. This has probably been helped by the fact that this is about a medication which has been showing direct benefits ever since I started taking it.
It also resulted in me forgetting the rest of my morning pills once or twice. Fortunately the vitamin B12 and D I can miss occasionally, but the SSRI can be dangerous if I stop it abruptly. Having a weekly pillbox helps me to know whether I’ve taken them.
I did take the “no calcium or iron supplements” a bit to the extreme by also skipping dairy and meat for 4 hours, which created the concept of “dairy o’clock” for me. I have gradually relaxed that, but continue to adhere to the much more important “no food or meds for an hour”. I have a Detachable Pill Box which I can use to take my other morning pills with me to work if I need to leave before I can take them.
In the first month I took levothyroxine, I felt that I had more energy. According to my step counter, I walked more. Also important is that my focus improved; I was able to complete tasks at work in less time than before. And according to the scale at the endocrinologist’s office I lost 3lbs.
The endocrinologist seemed extremely pleased by the 3lbs. I tried not to pooh-pooh her parade by pointing out that it’s less than 1% of my weight, but damn, I was much more focused on the “able to get more work done” and “able to walk more” parts of the equation.
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Thursday, 5 January 2023
Wednesday, 4 January 2023
I still stretch in the morning and evening, though not this full sequence. Usually I stretch whatever feels stiff and I bend over to touch the floor a few times. Last year we had a plumbing problem under the kitchen sink. Himself knew how to fix it, but didn’t feel up to the bending. I ended up under the sink following instructions because I was flexible enough. Teamwork!
One drawback to the CPAP is that if I move around a lot, it tends to slip off. Not moving much during sleep means I wake up feeling a bit stiff. (I also have some arthritis in my knees, but it’s usually not the knees that are stiff, it’s everything else…..)
So, I usually do 10 minutes or so of stretches I learned in my yoga class. Why do I do this?
- It feels fantastic. Seriously.
- It wakes me up (major muscle movement) in a rather nice way.
- My legs work hard to carry me around all day. This makes them happy. They deserve to be happy. :)
- It helps me maintain enough flexibility that digging the Roomba out from under the couch or pulling weeds in the garden is not difficult.
There are things that are uncomfortable because my belly bulk gets in my way, like tying my shoe while standing with a foot on a step. Flexibility lets me retain other options, like just bending over and tying my shoes, or sitting down and putting my foot on my knee.
Otoh, when my parents were my age, my father couldn’t just bend over and tie/untie his shoes. So he had the opposite problem – he was thin, but less flexible.
What sort of stretches do I do? (Bear with me – the pictures of the leg stretches didn’t turn out. I could re-take them this weekend if I get requests ;)
- Raise one leg straight up, perpendicular to the bed. Let’s say we’re starting with the left leg, so I can give the rest of the directions based on that :) When I first started yoga class I had to support my leg with my hands or with a yoga strap – now I don’t.
- Rotate the left foot around in circles clockwise, 10 times, then the other way 10 times.
- If I feel I could stretch the hamstrings a bit more, I then grab the upraised foot with my left hand to get a better hamstring stretch (left foot with left hand, right foot with right hand).
- Next I relax my left outer hip muscles and let the leg lean toward the left. My yoga instructor’s toe hits the floor when she does this in class. Mine doesn’t. That’s okay.
- Keeping my left leg straight, I move the left foot all the way across my body in an arc, so now the left leg is stretched across my body and my left foot is on the right side of my body.
- My addition: quadriceps stretch. I lay on my side with pillows behind me, lift my left foot up against the pillows, then reach back to grab my left foot with my left hand. If I’m too stiff to do that, I use the yoga strap over my ankle and gently pull the foot up.
- And then…I just stretch anything else that feels like it wants it.
I repeat this with the other leg. I also usually do some shoulder stretches and right and left twists (I do have picture of that :)
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Tuesday, 3 January 2023
This post was originally written in 2008. It’s one of the first I wrote for this blog. And it’s still pertinent! I’ve been using a CPAP for over 10 years now. I have problems falling asleep without it. Not because I snore or otherwise sleep poorly without it – because I’m so used to having the CPAP when I sleep.
On the good side, when I was in the local hospital’s ICU, I put on the CPAP and was able to sleep. Some of the nurses were surprised.
Often I wake before the alarm. Usually I snuggle under the covers until it goes off. The man of the house may already be up, but he knows I’m still “sleeping” until my facemask comes off.
I have moderate “obstructive sleep apnea” (OSA)
I sleep with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine) which is basically a fan with a facemask to keep the airway open. The CPAP is touted as 100% effective in treating sleep apnea among those who actually, you know, use it, and I actually do.
What is sleeping with a CPAP like? Initially it was very weird, breathing with all that air inside my windpipe. Exhaling especially. I felt like I was drowning in air for the first 20 minutes. I coped by reading (fortunately the mask doesn’t keep me from reading) and after an hour I felt fine.
What does it do for my sleep?
- I sleep longer without waking myself up. I generally feel better after 7 or 8 hours of sleep than I used to feel after 9 or 10.
- My mouth isn’t dry when I wake up.
- It’s much rarer for me to have a sore throat when I wake up.
My original mask had a cap on the top of my head – rather like a bike helmet. The air tube connects on my head, then feeds down between my eyes to the nose. Instead of a cap over the nose there are two ‘nasal pillows’ that feed air to my nostrils. It appealed to me because it seemed less likely that I’d roll onto the air tube in my sleep. (You can see a picture of the style here.) This style doesn’t touch my face much, which means fewer zits :) Later I switched to ResMed Swift FX for Her mask, which has less hard plastic to break or coddle when traveling.
Sleep apnea is considered to be “obesity-related”
I went in meet with a sleep specialist expecting be told, “Yes, you have apnea, now lose weight”. I had geared myself up for an argument over the ease of losing weight vs other treatment. I was ready to point out that I KNOW thin people get sleep apnea, because I grew up hearing my thin, athletic father stop breathing between snores.
I found there was no fight necessary.
Going over the intake paperwork, the doc saw that my parents both snored. He asked me about their snoring; mom’s was steady, dad’s was loud but interrupted, and I sometimes heard him wake up briefly before resuming snoring. The man of the house confirmed that I stop breathing, too.
“Sounds like you and your parents have sleep apnea,” he said, “It often runs in families. Me, my brothers, our father, his brothers – we’re all skinny snorers.”
“Skinny snorers?” It was a new term for me.
“Yup. Sleep apnea is related to weight, as a physical thing, becase more weight means the muscles have to work harder to expand the chest. But it is also related to the size of the airway. Both weight and airways are hereditary, so.” He pulled out a flashlight. “Mind if I look at the airway in your mouth?” He peered in, nodded, and said, “You’d probably be a skinny snorer. Lose weight if you want – but don’t expect that it’ll fix the sleep apnea.”
Will losing weight fix sleep apnea?
Imagine my surprise when I saw sleep apnea listed as a justification to have weight-loss surgery by the NIH among those who are otherwise not “fat enough”.
A study on how weight-loss surgery affects sleep apnea recently released its results.
“A new study shows that obstructive sleep apnea often persists after weight loss surgery, but most patients don’t realize that and wind up taking risks with their health. […]
It’s not that their sleep apnea was unchanged. Their symptoms eased to varying degrees, but not enough to end their obstructive sleep apnea.”
You do not have to be fat to have sleep apnea. Before she died, my mother and I tried to get my father in for a sleep test, both before and after I got my CPAP. Dad refused. I hope others out there have more sense.
(And be glad they have CPAPs now. Much nicer than a tracheostomy!!)
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