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Wellness Wednesday for February 15, 2023

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

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I've been long providing semi-solicited medical advice online that people who experience chronic fatigue, sleepiness and tiredness should get assessed for sleep apnea.

And now that I've finally decided to take a dose of my own medicine, the results are in: I've got severe sleep apnea, especially the positional variant which is much worse when I sleep on my back.

I stop breathing approximately every 2 minutes while asleep, and have had my oxygen saturation drop to as low as 70% for prolonged periods. No wonder I feel like shit during the day!

There are a bunch of potential therapies, ranging from using a CPAP machine to keep airways patent through the night, surgical removal of tissues in the throat, mandibular splints, and even ensuring that you lie on your side so that you're less prone to apnea.

Has anyone ever been treated for it? I'd love to hear your experience so I can decide on what to do for myself, it's rather frustrating to find out that I've got it at such a young age, especially since I'm not obese. Even more annoying if it turns out that I took antidepressants for so many years only for my symptoms to not actually be due to depression :(

So CPAP machine basically flows air to user's face? How does it prevent apnea if causes of apnea are internal?

Nah, it's more like a pressure, imaging the throat during apnea is like a collapsed cylindrical balloon, and the CPAP is blowing to keep it inflated and open.

Are you able to breathe through your nose easily while awake? Are your upper teeth crowded, or did you have to have premolars extracted to make room to straighten them out? You may have narrow nasal passages due to maxillary hypoplasia, which can be corrected.

I think I can breathe through my nose easy enough as far as I can tell, but I do have a degree of crowding since my wisdom teeth started showing up to the party.

I'll ask my ENT/Dentist next time I see them, though I suspect they'd have mentioned something during the last consultation if that was the case.

I appreciate the detailed response, I'm reserving judgement till I do a CPAP trial, after which I'll decide how far I want to push things. Here's hoping your trick for CPAP machines works on the brands here!

I apparently have moderate sleep apnea. I received a CPAP machine but it was utterly unworkable, in that a) I could not sleep on my side and b) the sensation of being smothered completely precluded any possibility of sleeping. After several nights of unsuccessful attempts, I returned it and have continued on with my usual snoring and daytime naps.

I'm sorry to hear that, perhaps you could consider splints? Of course, how much nuisance you're willing to tolerate depends on how severe and debilitating your symptoms are.

I also have apnea, but I absolutely can not sleep with anything attached to me, so all the machines that require that are out. Also don't want to have surgery. I wonder what that leaves me with. Probably not much.

There's positional therapy, which may be as good as CPAP. You can also try mandible splints that you put in before going to bed.

Have you tried those springy strips that stick to your nose to open it during the night? I don't think I have sleep apnea, but I do notice higher quality sleep if my breathing is better.

I haven't heard of those before, but while I'm glad it works for you, I suspect it won't be much use for full blown sleep apnea, given that the underlying issue is much further inside the respiratory tract than the nostrils.

ALLEGEDLY mouth taping works wonders for almost zero actual cost:

That's a rather unusual approach, and I'm not sure I can really tape my mouth up every night what with the whole moustache thing. But I appreciate you taking the time to share a less than common technique!

I have severe sleep apnea (about the same numbers as you, from what I recall) and I have had a CPAP for about a year now. I definitely feel it has made a difference for me. I don't feel as tired in the afternoons as I used to, mainly. Before I would need to take a nap most days, but now I'm taking a nap like once every two or three weeks. I can also tell a difference on nights when I forget to use my CPAP. I wake up just feeling more "blah" than usual when that happens.

The main challenge I had was getting the mask tightened enough to stay snug while I was asleep. At first it would come loose as I moved around in my sleep, and I would wake up from the air leaking out. But once I got that set (which was tighter than I thought, it's not painful or anything but it's noticeably tight and leaves lines on my face) it's been smooth sailing.

Thanks! That's reassuring, even though it grates on me to even consider a lifelong nuisance like having to lug a CPAP machine around at such a young age.

But if it does make for a decent QOL improvement, I can subdue my injured pride haha

Go for surgery

How could I reliably assess if I have sleep apnea without getting any tests done?

I'm young and fairly fit, and sleep exclusively on my side, so I don't think I should have it. But I do have some of the symptoms sometimes such as sleepiness and tiredness.

You could try SnoreLab app. If you snore a lot there's a good chance you have it.

Are you really sure you don't want a test done? Polysomnography is quite minimal these days, I had it done at home myself.

If that's not an option, then your best bet is to ask your partner if you snore and also stop breathing for prolonged periods at night. I suppose you could ghetto up some kind of surveillance with a phone to observe yourself too.

(Even if you go to sleep on your side, you might just be tossing and turning while asleep)

You would probably need someone who is around while you sleep, to observe if you stop breathing as you sleep. Otherwise I'm not sure. Though if you're concerned, your doctor should be able to set you up with a test you can do at home. That is how I got diagnosed, I didn't have to go sleep in a lab or anything.

Aw, I teared up a little reading this! Congrats on making it work!

Hell yeah, brother! Keep at it, I'm stoked for you!

My man! Great things are coming.

As a skier, I totally can understand. Sometimes I'm like "omg, why did I do this to myself? This is so scary!" and then it always becomes "I love this so much!" I don't think I like being afraid, and yet I can't help thinking maybe this is also part of what makes it great.

You aren't going to persuade actual individual people by rhetoric directed at those people. Jesus Christ didn't descend to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus and politely say "Hey, Saul, you have some good points about murdering my followers, but look at this exceedingly well reasoned proof of why I am the word and the light and the way." Crisis or intuitive vision convert committed people, rhetoric does not, unless the stakes were so low that nothing interesting was involved to begin with.

So you need to start by defining your goals/targets, and keeping track of what you're trying to do. Don't go in thinking your learned friend in argument is going to admit you are correct and give you a crisp $20 bill. In my mind the proper goals in arguing with anyone I ideologically despise online are:

  1. to "fight the good fight" on a forum I enjoy and signal to silent lurkers who agree with me that this kind of thing won't go unchallenged, hopefully raising their spirits and preventing my comrades from fleeing. This goes for both Right and Left deviants, and goes for all kinds of forums. If an SJW starts up with making a baseball forum all about racism, I'm going to call them out for bringing their hobby horse in; same if an unironic pedo shows up in a rightist forum. It is important to prevent it from seeming like these people have the run of the place unchallenged; if no one stands up to them pretty soon their rhetoric dominates and becomes the forum culture. For this purpose, the important thing to is to express your beliefs and disapproval of your opponents beliefs in a clear way, and then stop arguing. Don't get dragged down into long comment threads, they will just make everyone think "Oh, don't respond to X, you'll end up getting harassed."

  2. to convert any "soft" members of the opposite side, the normies. This is less likely, but at least possible. You're never going to convert someone who is committed to their beliefs, you aren't going to turn (on a 1-5 scale) a 5 into a 1, that's Road to Damascus stuff; but you may get a 4 down to a 3, or a 3 to a 2. Most normies are going to respond best to ethos based arguments: you should make the speaker, you, seem to be scrupulously fair and fun and intelligent. Seem like you're having a good time, being nice; never getting angry or bitter. Social change works where it feels like its proponents are having fun, it fails where its proponents seem bitter and sad.

  3. for your own amusement. I don't know what amuses you, but what amuses me is saying what I like and not getting dragged into a long debate with someone arguing in bad faith. Block quote from Sartre:

“Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.”

An opponent can always tie you in knots if they don't, fundamentally, care about the truth. So keep track of whether you are having fun, and cut it off if you aren't.

All this points to a simple rule: be nice, have fun, move on.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe"

You and the described leftist have too great of an inferential distance. Explicitly laying out your arguments will be interpreted as nonsense because your arguments rely on certain presuppositions that rely on other presuppositions (recurse indefinitely). Presuppositions that he lacks or run counter to his.

You need to build up all of them one by one, and this means long iterated conversations over a long period of time. There is no easy way. There are easy ways to "win" the argument. But there are no easy ways to actually convince someone of your views.

Above is a very ideal situation. Most of the time, I have figured it's not worth my time, because you don't only need to teach a {modal politically/philosophically misguided person} the presuppositions, but also statistics, logic, history, etc. (Being "educated" doesn't absolve them of this shortcoming)

This is not to mean you can't associate with people you disagree with, just that you avoid talking about certain topics, focus on whats common instead of different.

I feel like you were on the right track with

I know I can cease arguing in such places (better for my mental health overall)

There are two cases to consider: when there is an actual immediate decision process at stake (that you can influence!), and when there isn't.

Let's consider the easier, latter case: there is nothing at stake, so this is a pure signalling exercise. Arguing about politics, and virtue signalling (for whatever set of virtues you may ascribe to) is almost never perceived charitably. It's at best quietly sanctimonious and at worst autistically obnoxious. It has value in in-group bond strengthening/groupthink signalling, not as an invitation for an actual reflection or discussion. When someone of a different faith than you discusses religion, do you "diplomatically" argue about their beliefs? Life isn't a college debate club, try to find things you might have in common instead of rehashing things that "trigger" you.

Now the harder instance, you're influencing a decision process (i.e., are sitting on a hiring committee). Here, you need to weigh the cost of revealing outsider political predilections (and becoming a pariah, especially in groupthink heavy environments like academia) against the damage to the decision process. Are you overlooking a once-in-a-lifetime candidate just to fill a diversity quota? That might pose sufficient institutional risk that it is worth speaking up. Thankfully, in such instances, there are compelling non-political arguments in favor of your position ("I'm not anti-diversity, the non-diverse candidate just happens to be vastly superior, and we'd be fools to pass them up").

Choose your battles. The best thing to do in an environment where they are "firing white people to bring in a minority" is probably leave. An environment that espouses beliefs that are antithetical to your values is probably a) somewhere you don't what to be contributing to and b) a profound waste of emotional energy that could be better spent elsewhere.

How to fight for what you believe in then? Associate and discuss your positions with like-minded people. Build circles you'd want to be a part of. Don't berate your waiter because they corrected you on a pronoun, in the same way you don't argue with Jehovah's witnesses or telemarketers.

Perhaps worth postfacing this with an apocryphal Twain quote:

Never argue with a fool, they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience

This isn't really an answer to your question, but I've been trying to do this more as well, and in real time online communication too (voice-chat). It's surprisingly difficult and keeps you on your toes quite a bit because of a few reasons: (1) You don't have any time at all to think about what you want to say. (2) The conversation can get schizophrenically dragged in a huge number of directions. (3) There is a lot of very superficially convincing woke leftist rhetoric to combat. This can make you really scramble to keep up, especially if you get dragged onto territory you weren't expecting to have to defend and you immediately have to recall all arguments and evidence that refute their talking points on the spot while trying to word it in a way that makes sense, captures the nuance of the issue and isn't particularly inflammatory. There are thousands upon thousands of sources I've read (both academic and otherwise) on the culture war, and trying to recall and explain topics I've not prepared for in detail sucks especially when the topics are of considerable complexity. It's not uncommon for me to recall some really good arguments and examples after the fact and go "Fuck me, I should've thought to mention that".

There's a reason why academic debate and inquiry is done in written format, and why competitive real-time debates are often scoped appropriately so they stick to a certain topic and preparation is possible beforehand. This is not the case in the muck of real-life, colloquial debating where debates can just unpredictably manifest in a casual conversation and the topic being debated can subsequently drift. You (and your opponent too) are never able to give the best version of your argument, but the woke leftist has an edge in these discussions because they are armed to the teeth with simple, socially accepted truisms that are just taken to be a given. If you're sufficiently prepared, you can do really well in combating them, but you often can't anticipate everything that gets thrown your way and there will sometimes be moments when you find yourself mentally scrambling to recall things and structure your response. Your information retention and speaking skills need to be very good to handle these discussions.