February 13, 2011

Sleep apnea in prime time

What do the television programs “Men of a Certain Age,” “Mike & Molly,” and the recently released film “Hall Pass” have in common? Obstructive sleep apnea. Principal characters in each are seen with a CPAP device. There are probably other TV shows and movies where the ubiquitous device is present, but those three come to mind quickly.

In the episode where the machine appears in “Mike & Molly,” Mike is rather matter of fact about using it and Molly is a bit put off. The laugh track rolls when she is frustrated by the fact that Mike’s mouth keeps coming open. (Where is the chin strap when you need it?)

While some people will find these representations somewhat offensive because the person wearing the mask is the object of ridicule, I have a different spin on sleep apnea portrayed on the big and little screen.

The creators/writers of “Mike & Molly”—there is probably an apneic among them—understand some portion of the viewers of the program use a CPAP, or sleeps with someone who does, or knows someone (maybe many) who are either users or partners of a CPAP user.

The use of the CPAP has become so commonplace that we can laugh about the foibles of using the device. The humor comes from “getting it” and not from thinking the wearer looks silly.

I continue to be amazed at how this condition is becoming part of everyday life—at least for some people. The challenge for me and the association is make it part of everyday life for most people.

I am ready for my close- up, Mr. DeMille....

1 comment:

Dody Jordahl said...

I agree with your opinion. I think any publicity that helps promote sleep apnea equipment and awareness is a positive thing. So many people are CPAP users. It is important that everyone understands the reach and scope of the disorder.