Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Flatulent Warnings

My father, normally fairly polite, if a little antisocial, and almost never out-right rude, stared across the table at me. He smiled, his aging handsomeness rolling up into a smirk just before he closes his mouth and his cheeks puff out. O no…
The belch rocked the walls, literally shaking the chandelier as it swung above the dining-room table and causing a cat out back to reow! with surprise and indignation as it started and fell, thudding on the ground outside our window and scurrying off. I chuckled, trying to keep it low, while my sister outright burst into laughter. My mother, however, did not share our amusement at Dad’s gaseous exploit. It turned out, neither did our neighbors, who thought our oven had somehow managed to backfire.
My dad produces some other rather…unique sounds as well. If you’ve ever run over a brick with a lawn mower, you have some concept of how my father sounds when snoring. Like some fantastic thunderstorm rolling over a town, his nightly concert starts out slow, with low rumblings and baritone whispers, and eventually reaches a crescendo loud enough to wake himself on most nights. This is not a unique trait; my grandfather has a mighty snore, my sister a rather unique machinegun-esque ripping, and even I apparently produce some distressingly loud midnight noises. Dad’s are unique in another, disturbing way though:
After reaching that apex of snoring, he stops breathing.
Not for long, only for a few seconds each time, but enough that it worried my mother and he had it checked out. The first doctor said it was sleep apnia, a potentially fatal condition caused by relaxation of the muscles in his neck and head that aid in breathing during sleep. My dad wanted a second opinion, whispering “quack” to me after we left the office. But the second doctor agreed. And the third. And the fourth. So my father went in for a study, to help get his sleep pattern down, got a few treatments, some physical therapy, a breathing mask and the like.
So now, instead of his muscles relaxing too much, they become even better at their nighttime occupation: snoring. My mother, who is, by the way, hard of hearing in a fairly noticeable way, now wears earplugs to bed because the sound keeps her up. My neighbors re-insulated their walls, since our townhouse walls allow through so much sound and they were being kept up too. The big problem was fixed but…not the other ones. They just…changed.
Oilei undergoes a similar issue. He goes to white doctors, dottore, even Ah So, but the problem has only altered, lessened in some ways, not gone away. The gas still comes, in waves violent and noticeable. So maybe it’s a sign. My father’s snoring was his body telling us that something was drastically wrong with his throat; maybe Oilei’s gaseous escapades are his body’s way, or his heart’s, or his mind’s, of warning Oilei that trouble is on the way. Or already here. Relieving the symptoms will not necessarily remove the cause; our flatulent friend must find out WHY he farts and belches, not just try to make it stop.

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