My incessant, obnoxious snoring habit is finally a thing of the past. All you other noisy, nocturnal males: Pay attention.
Like millions of other men, I've never really been bothered by snoring, but my wife has lost innumerable hours of sleep.She's not alone. According to medical researchers, 50 percent of men and 30 percent of women snore, and about half of each group do so habitually, like me.
One recent survey reports that 71 percent of households have a snorer, and that most of them sound like a buzz saw, some like "a rumbling train," and others like a whippoorwill, a jackhammer or a pig.
Physicians say most people snore because an upper airway obstruction occurs when the muscles of the palate, the uvula and sometimes the tonsils relax during deep sleep and act as vibrating noisemakers.
Others snore because of long, floppy palates or uvulas or too much tissue at the back of the throat.
Because more men than women snore, women continually search for cures - from sewing a tennis ball into the snorer's pajama back to administering unpleasant electric jolts.
Actually, most snoring remedies just keep snorers awake.
I can vouch for that, because I've tried most of them - except the tennis ball routine. Once, I even tried a battery-operated device resembling a wristwatch. When its tiny microphone detected my snoring, it triggered a pulsing vibration.
When I felt it, I quickly turned over and stopped snoring. About 7,000 turns later, I was a physical wreck.
When I asked my dentist for advice, he took a mold of my teeth and fit me with a huge contraption designed to keep me breathing through my mouth. This monstrosity looked like a large rock containing imprints of my teeth, and it reminded me of the bits people place in horses' mouths.
With the unwieldy contraption in my mouth I could no longer speak. I woke up several times gagging and struggling for breath.
Next, I tried putting breathe-right strips on my nose, the same things football players use to coax open their airways, but the darned things irritated my skin.
Then I found some little snore-stop pellets at the drug store, and put one under my tongue just before I went to sleep. Result? Big time snoring.
Just as I was thinking about comfy little ear plugs for my wife, I heard about a new laser surgical procedure.
The patient is given a local anesthetic called lidocaine. Fully conscious, he sits upright in a comfortable chair while the physician administers a 10-minute laser treatment to trim the uvula.
Medical figures seemed encouraging - 85 percent reported a complete cure, while 12 percent experienced a reduction in snorting and chortling.
The cost? About $1,200 and no guarantee of insurance coverage. A surgeon friend was optimistic that it would help me, but he graciously warned me about side effects - Tylenol would not tame the raging sore throat afterward, I could lose the ability to speak French or play a trumpet - and my voice might climb to a higher register.
No, I'm NOT joking.
I had a snorting, chortling nightmare about my rich, bass voice being destroyed and replaced with a high, annoying squeak. When I woke up, I ruled out the laser treatment.
Later, my decision was validated when a colleague underwent the laser surgery, then snored louder than ever. Not only that, but at dinner his food came careening out his nose.
Just when my spirit was broken, I learned that an old college friend, Barry Packer, now a dentist, prescibes a small appliance that clicks onto the teeth.
Packer showed me the "Silentnite," a comparatively small device with tiny connectors attached to transparent flexible upper and lower forms.
The forms are custom laminated with heat and pressure to the dentist's model of the mouth. The device discourages snoring by moving the lower jaw into a forward position, causing the space in the airway to increase and the air velocity and soft tissue vibration to decrease.
It looked much smaller and less intrusive than the last appliance I had in my mouth. Sort of like a retainer. Packer, who uses one himself every night, says it stops his snoring at least 80 percent of the time.
I allowed him to take a mold of my mouth and send to California for the goods. When I put it in my mouth, it felt tolerable, and I could even talk, in muffled tones. At home, I went right to sleep, even though I woke up three or four times clutching my mouth.
In the morning, I asked Marti if I had snored. "Yes," she said, "but it took much longer to start, and then it was more quiet."
No matter. She couldn't sleep through it.
Unruffled by this story, Packer proceeded to tighten the connectors, pushing my jaw forward another millimeter.
Guess what, my friends? Afterward, I actually slept through the night, and my wife reported in the morning that she had not heard me make even a single snort. Since she is a very light sleeper, this was a very good sign. During the next seven or eight nights, she detected some light snoring only once.
Not bad! I can say to you from the heart that my snoring is gone, and $250 is a lot better than $1,200. But more important - my marriage is saved!