Monday, April 21

Saliva Boarded

Haven't posted anything lately, so I am cross posting this from my personal blog. I know that there has been a lot going on in the world recently, but honestly nothing has really inspired me to do anything more than make incredibly astute concise observations (okay, let's be honest, snarky comments) on Twitter. You can find me there @tank_demon.

So, what has influenced me to write when MH370, the Blade Runner Trial, Bundy Ranch, Chelsea's Womb, Easter and the Purple Wedding weren't able to?

Would you believe that there is a connection between snoring and water boarding? It is a very personal connection, but there is a definite connection.

I am snorer, like Captain Spaulding the African explorer. Apparently I shake the walls while I sleep. I make sounds that scare small children and attract lovesick moose. My snoring has influenced roommates to find other accommodations (true story.) I am told that it is not sleep apnea, though I have never had a sleep study done to verify this one way or the other. When I last requested a sleep study, the request was denied because, other than snoring loud enough to be used as a foghorn, there were no other indicators of sleep apnea (not overweight, no high blood pressure, decent general fitness.)

Honestly, snoring never bothered me. It sure as hell bothered my wife, and whatever poor bastards had to share a tent with me during field exercises, but being that I was already sleeping soundly by the time I started emitting sounds, my snoring was somebody else's problem. Yes, there was the occasional sore throat in the morning, but physically the worst that happened was that I would inexplicably wake up in the middle of the night. I sometimes thought that was the result of snoring loud enough that the noise of it would wake me, though my wife has told me I have times during the night when I would just stop breathing altogether, so maybe the reason I awoke was to get my respiration back on track. I am leaning toward the latter theory as the proper explanation.

It was the wee hours of Easter morning, around 2:00 am, when I awoke with a sense of unease. I did not startle myself out of a nightmare, but out of a deep sleep, probably phase 3 at that point, yet the sense of unease was there.

Unease escalated to near panic when I tried to take a breath and found it impossible to do so- something was blocking my airway. I tried harder and felt more than heard the gurgle of air trying to pass through saliva. During my sleep, I had rolled over onto my back and, mouth agape, I was snoring. Okay, I assume I was snoring, I don't have video/audio evidence of that, but it does fit with my personal history and the events of the night. So, while snoring, there was a build up of saliva in my mouth, and during one attempt at a deep breath, that saliva filled my throat and prevented the air from getting to my lungs.

I was able roll over onto my stomach and cough it out, which allowed me to immediately return to normal breathing. A few more coughs and all indications that there was ever a problem were totally dissipated. I got up go to the bathroom to see if I could cough out anything else, but it seemed to have all been cleared, so I went back to my bed, turned the pillow over and lay down on my stomach. I tried to avoid thinking of John Bonham, Jimi Hendrix and Mama Cass. I also thought of how embarrassing it would be to choke on one's saliva when stone cold sober. I could just imagine the autopsy and my wife's reaction.

While lying down trying to get back to sleep, it dawned on me what I had just done.

I had just inadvertently waterboarded myself. 

I will imagine that some people reading this will find my assertion ridiculous, but I was scared, confused, didn't feel like I had any control over what was going on, and just wanted to get oxygen into my lungs.  I will concede that what I went through wasn't sustained, and I did have free movement of my limbs and body, but subjects of waterboarding generally have an understanding of what is happening to them and have some chance to mentally prepare themselves for the ordeal. Also, I would guess that they will not be resting their head against the pillow for the next few nights wondering if it might happen again and hoping that they will wake up in time to prevent catastrophe if it does.

I thought about it last night. I will probably think about it again tonight, but I expect that the memory of this incident will be relatively fleeting and I will have forgotten the whole thing by next week. In the scale of life altering events, I don't think this even holds a candle to that time about 11 years ago when the wheels and hood of the Jeep Wrangler I was driving on an icy highway decided to switch places.

I always did agree with the Bush administration that waterboarding, at least the way conducted by our interrogators, was not torture, and having just gone through the experience I did, I am still resolute in that conviction. Was it pleasant? Not in the least, in fact, like I said, it was panic-inducing, but it was not actually painful. It could have been life altering in the ultimate way for me if I had not awoke when I did, but for the prisoners under interrogation that was never even an issue. All effects of the ordeal have completely disappeared, and I am none the worse for wear, just like the few subjects of waterboarding at Gitmo.

This has not really been a hot topic of discussion since it was revealed that enhanced interrogation techniques actually did help in tracking down bin Laden, but if it ever does become a topic of discussion, you can tell anybody who claims that waterboarding is definitely, beyond a doubt torture, you can tell them that you know of somebody who does that to himself in his sleep.
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