10 May 2009

What were you doing to make that discovery?

This story is going to fall into the category summarised by the old adage – what did the first person who got milk out of a cow actually think they were doing? In other words; what on earth were you up to to make that discovery?

My husband is a terrible snorer – actually, that’s not true; he’s very good at it. He’s loud, rumbustious and it’s very distracting. When he snores, I certainly can’t sleep and the resulting quality of his sleep isn’t good either. He already could have represented England at the snoring Olympics, but after a spell on a life support machine in 2005 necessitated by acute respiratory disease from septicemia (burst appendix > peritonitis > acute infection > full organ failure), he stopped snoring entirely for a while – it was heaven when he first came out of hospital.

It was actually a tad disconcerting, without the sound track to his sleep and no breathing sounds at all, I regularly woke him to ensure he was still alive. A lot of time in ICU can make you that paranoid. But it didn’t last, my joy was short-lived. And when he did start snoring again, it was more rumbustious than ever. When he’s on a roll, neither of us feel very refreshed in a morning.

So the doctor recommended he try some nose strips – just before they became widely available on the high street and advertised on TV – the only time you saw them was on the noses of rugby players and the like on TV. It appeared that it was his airways in his head closing up that was the source of the ungodly sounds.

They worked a treat – he still makes some small snoring sounds, it hasn’t cured it, but it has made life significantly more bearable for both of us. There are many reasons why people snore, so it won’t be the answer for everyone, but he only needs to miss putting it on one night for us to realise how well they work. They’re pretty expensive, but we think it’s well worth it for a good night sleep.

That was the explanatory pre-amble – now to the point I was leading up to. A few nights as we got into bed, ago he uttered the rather alarming words “put the light off, I’ve got something to show you”. He then crinkled some paper and told me where in the dark to direct my eyes and again tried to sell me how wonderful his demonstration was going to be; “you’re going to love this.”

I have to admit, I was actually more impressed than I expected to be. There in the darkness appeared a blue phosphorescent type glow. He repeated the demo. His nose strips come in a little sealed sachet, rather like sticking plasters/Elastoplasts. When you pull the two layers of the packet apart, the glue layers separating make this glow.

A graphical facsimile of how it looks, the strip of blue glow
appears at the point where the two surfaces are just coming apart.

I have no idea if it’s static or some sort of natural phosphorescence from the components of the glue, or whatever it might be, but it looks pretty cool. I’ve tried it with several other gummed paper products and got the same blue glow. It has to be very dark to see it and it’s only a fleeting glimpse. It seems to work best with tacky type glues that will stick back together repeatedly, rather like a Post it Note – the tighter they’re stuck, the brighter the glow. Perhaps the most productive product has been the all-over tacky paper packet that my breakfast cereal was in. I’m a girl who really knows how to have fun in bed.

So it does beg two questions; Would astronauts be allowed to use nose strips on the shuttle? And what on earth was he doing with his nose strips to discover this?

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