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Do you need a CPAP device for sleep?

Photo on 4-28-17 at 11.22 AM

August 6, 2017

At 8:30 p.m., through the St. Vincent emergency entrance I carried my pillow, my pajamas, and a book (Adrian Mole:  The cappuccino years).  I had instructions to take elevator A to the hospital third floor, then turn left, well, I knew I would be close. Signs pointed the way to the sleep study department.  Through a door and into a short hallway a friendly black face greeted me through a half-closed door.  I greeted a nurse, “I’m Dan Struckman.  I’m here for an appointment.” She answered, “You sure are.  Here’s your room.”

I expected a hospital bed.  Instead, there was a queen-size bed with the covers turned down and four long wires with electrodes in an array.  The bedside table, a standard issue hospital kind, had too many wires and electrodes to count, various colors.  Hanging on the wall was a 5-inch plastic device shaped like a head sporting an array of holes — to accommodate the electrodes, I thought.

The nurse returned and invited me to change into my pajamas, then I was to crack the door of my room to signal my readiness.

I sat in a bedside chair and waited.  And waited.  I read my book.  I lost interest in my book.  I spied a questionnaire on a clipboard labeled “Pre-sleep questionnaire.”  I filled it out completely.  Then I waited.

Then an amplified, mysterious voice from an unseen speaker asked me to look to my left so she could take my picture.  She asked me to smile.  I didn’t disappoint her with my million dollar smile, as I turned my face toward a black ball on the ceiling.

After waiting another interminable time I moved the wires and got in bed, kicking my feet between the sheets.  I decided she had forgotten me.

When the nurse re-entered the room, finally, she invited me to sit back in the chair and she attached electrodes to perhaps six or eight places on my head, right on my hair, with a longish piece of tape holding.  She attached wires to my jaw to detect jaw clenching, she said.  She attached a device into my nostrils to detect mouth breathing, she gathered all of the wires and made a pigtail of the lot with a plastic sheath.  Last, she fastened electrodes to each leg, she said, to detect leg movements.

She chatted amiably the whole time she worked.  At last she had me lie down in bed, she turned off the lights.  The disembodied voice asked me to look up, down, side to side, wiggle my feet, open and shut my mouth, and make a snoring sound.  Then she asked me to simply speak to her if I needed to use the bathroom or anything.  It was dark.

I’m used to sleeping in a straight line, so I lay down and thought about girlfriends, old and new.  I think I fell asleep and woke up with cold legs and feet, so I asked the nurse out loud for another blanket.  Instantly the door opened and she brought in a blanket.  She fastened a device to my nose that blew air constantly.  If I opened my mouth air blew out, so she wrapped an ace wrap under my chin and over the top of my head to keep it shut.

After a long time I had to use the bathroom, so I told her aloud.  Again, the door opened instantly and she unhooked the wires.  She offered to let me stay up because it was 5:30 and wakeup time was 6.  I opted for the half-hour of sleep.  I was surprised the night was nearly over.

She told me that I had snored and was prone to shallow breathing.  She said they would fax a supplier a prescription for a CPAP nose contraption to correct my sleep time breathing.

The nurse said I would need a CPAP if I was prone to snoring, if I had periods when I stopped breathing, or if my sleep was disrupted by another trouble breathing so that I couldn’t sleep soundly.  She said astronauts and pilots have to have sleep studies, such as I had.  Poor sleep is associated with strokes and heart attacks, she said.


Crooked Creek Road in the Pryor Mountains


Crooked Creek Canyon

August 3, 2017

Today drove 80 miles from Billings up to the saddle between East and Big Pryor Mountains.  Took about two hours via Sage Creek Rd.

We checked feasibility of driving Crooked Creek Rd to return to Billings.  En route, stopped at side road called “Mill Hollow” and walked up about half mile.  Then we nearly lost our dog Gunther on an offshoot when he chased some angus and disappeared into the woods.  Ultimately, he responded to loud whistles and calls.  Returned, tags jingling.  Crooked Creek road was relatively well graded and wide, but man!  It was long.  I’m talking about 20 miles of crude dirt.  Of concern were several low places where rainwater may wash across the road, blocking it.

Turns out Crooked Creek adds significant milage (20 slow miles) if used to dismount from the Pryors.  We ended up at Cowley, Wyoming.  On the other hand, Crooked Creek road had scenery into the C.C. canyon that caused me to grip the steering wheel all the more tightly.  At one point I thought I was looking at a forest of castles of gigantic size.

The best use of the Crooked Creek access might be if Sage Creek  becomes impassable from heavy rainfall.  Part of that road has deep dusty dirt that can turn to gumbo given enough water.  A web place says that even four-wheel drive wouldn’t be adequate.  I believe that.  Another time P. and I had to turn back because a farm’s irrigation water made a muddy lake on the road.

The good news:  camping is permitted everywhere except at the Big Ice Cave picnic area. If need be, one can camp at Sage Creek campground, but the only shade is man-made shelters.  There is water, though, and vault toilets.

The better news:  in the saddle between the two Pryor mountains are a number of primitive campsites.  They are separated by an adequate amount of woods, yet close enough to be neighborly.

Gunther became dirty from wallowing in muddy tire tracks.  We washed him in a kiddy pool when we returned, using shampoo that smelled like bubble gum.

Kalispell, Montana, was young like Carl Bonde


August 1, 2017

Information is partly from Wikipedia:

With his own money, Charles Edward Conrad, a businessman and banker from Fort Benton, Montana, formed the Kalispell Townsite Company with three others.  Conrad may be called the daddy of Kalispell.

While spending part of my childhood with my grandparents I heard the Conrad name often.  Conrad National Bank.  The Conrad mansion.

Anyway, Conrad and his partners began selling lots in 1891 and  Kalispell was officially incorporated as a city in 1892.

Twenty-three years later in 1915, Carl Bonde Jr.’s father moved his wife and daughters from Buffalo, Montana, to Kalispell. Well, not exactly.  While Carl Sr. established their home in Kalispell he sent his family to live in Nerstrand, Minnesota, at the Bonde farm where he grew up.  Carl Sr. rented a house in Kalispell for him and his family while he worked for the Kalispell Wholesale Company.  Carl Sr. worked for the same company from 1915 until shortly before his death in 1958.  That was 53 years.

Since that time, according to the boastful article in Wikipedia, the city of Kalispell has continued to grow in population reaching 19,927 in 2010. As the largest city in Northwest Montana, Kalispell serves as the county seat and commercial center of Flathead County. The city is considered a secondary trade center with a trade area of approximately 130,000. 

The city also is home to Kalispell Regional Medical Center, which boasts a 150-bed facility.  My mother would have died there in 1976 if we hadn’t flown her to Salt Lake City.  Turns out she was moribund and we could have saved the trouble and expense of moving her.  Hospice services weren’t available then.

Nestled in the Flathead valley, Kalispell is 31 miles (50 km) from Glacier National Park and 22 miles (35 km) from Hungry Horse Dam. Skiers have access to Whitefish Mountain Resort on Big Mountain and Blacktail Mountain Ski Area each 17 miles (27 km) away. Flathead Lake is 7 miles (11 km) away.  Buffalo Hill Golf Club, designed by Robert Muir Graves,  serves the needs of golfers.  Elsewhere, in a Kalispell Chamber of Commerce website, someone describes Kalispell as a golfing destination with seven golf courses.  I can just see someone landing at the Glacier International Airport with his or her bag of golf clubs with a gleam in the eye.  “Free at last…”

Go see School of Rock at NOVA

I recommend seeing the local production of School of Rock at NOVA theater downtown Billings.  According to Dan Nickerson, a guy who builds sets and runs the summer theater camp, it has 27 youth.  Of course this could account for the ticket sales, robust.  You know, lots of parents, uncles, grandparents, like that.

You’d never guess the talent is local.  A little boy plays electric guitar like a pro.  A girl handles a Fender bass like she was born with it.  A remarkable drummer blasts away with combinations ending in the crash of cymbals.  I don’t know where they got Ned, the show’s star, but he, in his words, “kicks ass.”  Jordyn Armstrong was cast perfectly as the private school principal, cool, poised, sharp tongued.  She can sing.


(The picture accompanying this post came from an internet search.  However, you get the idea.)  Only the kids in the NOVA production were really young to be able to sing so lustily, and together, and to dance so freely in perfect synch.  The amount of work they did rehearsing was obvious.  No wonder the director was giddy when she gave a brief curtain speech.  I don’t remember her name, but I’m thinking people will be looking it up after they see the show.

The set was minimal and dark with a balcony for a “pit of musicians” who also looked young.  They helped round out the sound for such hit tunes as “Stick it to the man!”

There are only two performances remaining.  Tonight and a matinee tomorrow.

Dog and bookcase

July 26, 2017

Gunther usually follows me, but at a distance, first thing in the morning.  Either in front or behind, he always likes to stay 20-30 ft away.  Unless he encounters people with big dogs.  This morning three people walked two dogs across the street from our house.  A boxer and a labrador mix.  They were relatively young girls, so I hurried after G. who was growling and making the “play bow.”  I apologetically announced that G. likes big dogs, wants to play chase, then scooped him up.  The girls seemed relieved.

Moments later, after the girls had disappeared from my view, I put G. down on our driveway.  He promptly turned around and spied a person walking down the middle of the street.  G. barked at the hapless, apparently innocent stranger, so I scooped him a second time.  When I set G. back on the driveway he scurried to our back door.  I think he sees the futility in chasing people and dogs, I thought.

Becky wants me to make her a bookcase.  Seems easy enough, until I visit Lowe’s to check out possible materials.  No way to buy new wood for a bookcase for less than $150.  Of course, one ends up with a pretty nice piece of furniture.  However, I can get a flawless-looking one from Ikea, even larger than one I could make, for about $100.  But then it will have been made of particle board and will be heavy.

Decisions, decisions.  Before I decide, I’ll scope out the places that sell recycled furniture and building materials.

Then I’ll ask Becky to help me decide.

Fields of barley near Dillon


Jim Feathers’ daughter, wife Barbara, himself, and P. having supper recently in Dillon.

July 25, 2017

I confess.  I often nap after P. leaves for work in the morning.  This morning at 10 our daughter phoned me to shriek, “Get up!  Do something!”  Well, she was in Minnesota driving to their cabin to have it appraised for sale so they can move to SD, C.

Whenever I feel especially lazy all I have to do is consider my old friend Wade Hansen, the guy who climbed two mountains last weekend.  Or I consider our oldest son who Sunday completed an eleven-hour ordeal in which he swam 6 miles, bicycled 105, and ran 26.  Makes my trips around the block with Gunther seem like child’s play.

However, these super athletes clouded my vision so that I had difficulty contemplating ordinary athletes, the kind for whom a trip around the block is, well, a hike.

Of course, I am writing about my old friend, Jim Feathers, with whose family P. and I dined at the 50th reunion.  His wife Barb is a union carpenter.  Jim is a college professor at the University of Washington. Their daughter is going to UW next year, I believe.

I was the new kid in town.  In 1962, the year my mother took a job teaching college courses in education at Western Montana College in Dillon, I found it hard to adjust to being tormented by the other junior high students.  I mean, I didn’t torment anyone, but for some reason four or five of my fellows must have felt the need to physically and emotionally bother me each day as we walked home across this huge park.  Such a huge park it was hard for me to run across, even to escape.  It was even harder to run across while getting the “Struckman treatment.”  I don’t recall much more than the name they gave my hazing, but I do remember getting tossed to the ground.

One day in the eighth grade during art class Jim Feathers invited me to sit with him and a few others.  Turns out his dad also taught at Western and since he knew a bit about my family, I guess he considered me to be a legitimate person.  The hazing stopped.

Jim and I became best friends, inseparable.  Of course, when we went to Methodist summer camp at Flathead Lake the counselor separated us when we announced to her that we were inseparable.  Had one of the best weeks of my life.  I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere that they were liberal with sex education and one of the female counselors had me and the rest of a coed group leaf through a Playboy magazine!  She complained the women didn’t look good to her, but to me they were big and bouncy and thoroughly delightful.  Has to be one of the highlights of my high school years.  I don’t know if they did that with Jim’s group.

Well, I had a summer job moving irrigation pipes for Joe Helle, a major rancher in the Dillon area.  Hell, Joe ran cattle and sheep all the way from Yellowstone Park to Dillon, but he had to keep his barley crops watered with sprinklers.  That’s where me and a couple others came in.  The job meant getting up at dawn, driving five miles to the barley, shutting off the line of 50 40-foot pipes, then moving them about sixty feet.  We moved about three lines apiece, me and a couple other irrigators.  Then it was back home until about 4 p.m. when we’d move the pipe lines again.  We kept the lines straight by aiming them at a distant mountain.  Sometimes there’d be fish or a snake in the pipelines.  At the beginning of the summer we watered dirt.  By the end of the season the barley was so tall it was hard to walk through.

About the summer before our senior high school year I invited Jim to fill a job opening moving the pipes.  We got about $10/day, quite a lot in 1966.  Trouble was, Joe paid me a bonus for being in charge of teaching Jim the ropes.  Joe let me drive the truck and tractor when needed.  When Jim learned about this he grew angry, since we both did the same amount of work.  In fact, Jim slept in our basement and every morning I’d wake him at 4 a.m. and we’d eat cereal in silence.  I think the strenuous work, the getting up in the dark, the cold cereal, and the fact that I got paid more than he did, put our friendship on the rocks.  We didn’t speak, until at one point we were practically punching each other out.  Jim was so angry he threatened to burn down Joe Helle’s by-then golden fields of barley.

Jim and I didn’t speak our senior year until Jim extended his hand to me and suggested we mend our friendship.  I took it and promised to be his friend once more.  That was more than 50 years ago and we’re still friends.

Mountain Climbing


Best Western Paradise Inn, Dillon, Montana.

July 22, 2017

At my 50th high school class reunion my first impression was to encounter Wade Hansen.  Well, not exactly.  Two anonymous looking old women looked through their pre-printed name tags for my name, but couldn’t find it.  I didn’t tell them my name because I wanted to know if they recognized me.  Wade was talking to an ancient woman and hadn’t noticed me.  To my surprise the aged woman was the same age as I was.

Hard to find enough superlatives when talking about Wade Hansen.  At the ten-year reunion he had the most children.  Yesterday, Wade and I enthusiastically shook hands.  His hand seemed about three sizes larger than mine and made of steel coated with … with whatever fingers are coated with.  Finger material, I guess.  You see, in 1966 Wade and I set a mountain climbing speed record for climbing Mount Torrey in the Pioneer Range about thirty miles, or so, from Dillon, Montana.  I told Wade it was my principal claim to fame.  We were about seventeen when we — Wade, actually, got a wild hair to race to the top of the mountain and invited me along.

“Do you remember how long it took us?” he asked.  I replied two hours.  “One hour, forty minutes,” he said.  Then he added that he and his kids were going to climb two mountains this weekend.  He invited me along.  Scared the hell out of me.  I told him I had to work (I did).  Later, I got an idea for an excuse that would sound plausible.  “No thanks, I can’t climb the mountain.  I’ve got to get a colonoscopy,” I would lie.

Wade wore bib overalls and a straw hat and exuded great physical strength.  I couldn’t seem to evade him, even though I wiggled into and through knots of my classmates.  I eventually parked myself near a couple of intellectuals, Ed Mooney and Jim Feathers and his family.  Wade caught up with me, still with boundless energy.  He got my name and address and phone number and promised to call me when he got ready to climb the nearly thirteen thousand foot mountains in the Bear Tooth range.  Didn’t help that I protested that I’m so out of condition I can barely hike two miles on the flat.  I tried to fog the issue by changing the subject to our oldest son who is an iron man athlete.  “I’ll get a hold of him so he can climb too,” promised Wade.