Glasses, Dentures and CPAP/BiPAP Machines

When did you start to rely on the American medical industry for the quality of your life?

For me, it started about a quarter of a century ago when I got glasses.  What would our lives have been like without them?  When was the last time your glasses got lost or broken and you had to do without them?  According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “More than 150 million Americans use corrective eyewear to compensate for refractive errors. Americans spend more than $15 billion each year on eyewear.”

And you don’t hear much complaining, do you?  We take our glasses for granted; they are a common way of life and we don’t pay much attention to them—but what if you took them off?  What would your life be like if you renounced your glasses?  I wear trifocals.  Without them, I could not read a book, write a blog or watch television.  I live alone in a small two-room apartment and my only “visitor” is a home health aide.  Without my glasses, how would I live?  I could listen to things, but what else could I do?  Sit and stare?

If you no longer had glasses, would you be able to work?  Would you be able to drive to work?  (Would you need nonexistent public transportation?)  From the moment you finish reading this blog, be conscious of how far you could go in your normal daily life if glasses ceased to exist.  Are you one of the young, healthy people for whom it would make no difference at all?  Have you thanked God for that lately?

My second dependency on the medical industry for quality of life is my dentures.  The American Dental Association does not report how many people are using dentures but other sites report 20 to 36 million.  (According to Wikipedia, the first dentures were animal teeth used by people in Northern Italy hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus.)  Figure that for every five people with glasses, one also has dentures.

I’ve known people—heck, I have close friends—who can eat just about anything without their dentures.  I can’t.  I am hypersensitive and my mouth hurts unbearably if I try to eat without my dentures, which means that if I forego the dentures then I will be limited to mashed potatoes, applesauce and oatmeal.  The food we ate before we got teeth becomes the food we eat after we lose our teeth.  How are you with that?  If you remove your dentures then your nutrition will become diminished, not to mention your pleasure in food.  Yesterday I ate toast, sausage, spinach and a sandwich, all of which would be off the menu without dentures.

There was an old man with Alzheimer’s disease.  His wife, children and grandchildren carried him, bathed him and fed him.  Then one day he took out his dentures, put them on the windowsill and turned his face to the wall.  Three days later, he died.  How long would you feel like living without your dentures?  Would you ever take them out and say, “That’s it—I’m done living?”

My third medical appliance is an auto BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure machine) used for the treatment of severe and unstable obstructive sleep apnea.  It is estimated that 40% of CPAP/BiPAP users don’t use—that is, they are noncompliant with treatment.  (In my experience of other folks, this is because there’s a problem that they don’t know how to address.  To get the most useful suggestions for fixing things that I’ve seen in a dozen years of looking, go to

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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One Response to Glasses, Dentures and CPAP/BiPAP Machines

  1. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.cpap-cleaning

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