My year in three short essays
My cat’s in love with me. And my shoulder hurts. But at least my snoring is under control.
My cat’s in love with me, and it’s weird. She follows me around all day, and at night, if I happen to be lying in bed reading on my phone, she tiptoes up to my head and lays on my neck. She licks my face until I ask her to please stop because her sandpaper tongue hurts. When she’s done, she rests her head on my chin like we’re sharing a moment. You’re thinking, cute, right? It’s not. Her breath smells like tuna. And get this—her thin hair sometimes gets into my eyes, and I have to pull long threads out of my eye sockets like they do in horror movies.
She slow-blinks at me a lot, which is the cat’s way of saying they love us. Last night she purred in my ear, which seemed weirdly intimate. Then, she licked my ear, and I didn’t like that at all. So I picked her up and put her in her own bed. It’s strange having a cat that’s so affectionate. I wonder who reincarnated their way into this one and why they have such a thing for me.
She sends mixed signals, though. She used to vomit a lot, and one day, she threw up on my favorite blue running shorts that my wife always hated. That seemed intentionally cruel; unrequited love must be agonizing.
My shoulder hurts sometimes, and it makes me wish I understood my body more. It frustrates me that I can’t look inside or inspect all the moving parts, even though I’d be as clueless as when I study a car engine. All I know is when I press down on the knot that powers my shoulder pain, it feels like I’m squashing a grape, and the wine drains down to my fingers.
I went to a chiropractor for a short time to seek some shoulder relief, but he only wanted to fix my posture, which he and I agreed was poor. He said my slouch put fifty pounds of pressure on my neck, which might explain the shoulder pain. He coaxed my posture into alignment, dropping that fifty pounds of pressure down closer to twenty, he claimed. And my shoulder did indeed hurt less. But the good times didn’t last—soon, I was slouching again because that’s sadly how I carry myself. And the shoulder pain returned. But it wasn’t a total waste: the chiropractor had this technique where he twisted my lower body, sending a cascade of pops up my lower spine. Every time he did that, I spontaneously said, Nice!
I tried deep tissue massages and asked them to focus on the shoulder. My masseuse bragged that she sometimes applied too much pressure to her clients, but I thought she was nowhere close. Another lady used a massage gun on my shoulder, and holy moly, that did the trick. But then she held the massage gun against my neck for a bit too long, and as it rattled my skull, my brain informed me I was about to die. Now, I save my money and try to squash it every day with a massage gun that my wife bought me.
I didn’t learn about my snoring problem until after college. I overheard my former roommate telling my fiancé about how he used to tap on the dorm wall a few times to quiet me down without waking me. After a month, my wife gave up on subtlety and resorted to punching my arm when my snoring woke her.
Later, I started waking up to my own snoring and was so, so tired in the morning. I went to a doctor who ran a camera-tipped tube up my nose. It turns out I have a thin throat and a very congested nasal cavity. Common, he said.
He gave me a small widget to tape to my finger during the night to track my heart rate and oxygen levels. It revealed that, on average, my snoring woke me up nine times per hour every night. I told the doctor nine seems like a lot. He told me that’s what he calls “mild.” I asked him if I’d have to get one of those bulky breathing machines to wear at night. He said no, and sold me on a custom-fitted mouthguard instead. It’s a funny contraption that keeps my jaw forward a bit, giving my thin throat some much-needed breathing room. Now I only wake once per hour, max, according to that widget. Also, no more snoring and no more arm punches. I feel like I should tell my college roommate.
It seems like God made two of me: one that sleeps and one that watches me sleep. The latter wakes me when something’s wrong or when my cat lays on my neck. It reminds me that bodies are incredible. And I feel so lucky to have this one.