"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand." - Chinese proverb

Monday, December 7, 2015


Some years ago one of my doctors suggested I have a sleep study done. I forget which doctor because I have quite a few, since I have several things wrong with me, most of which involve curious maladies which are quite uncomfortable albeit hard to get a handle on. I have a lot of “ologists.” A rheumatologist, an immunologist, a neurologist, a cardiologist, a gastroenterologist, a gynecologist (of course) and if my insurance covered it I'd damn sure have a psychologist, too. I think a big mistake a lot of us made in high school was that we didn't make plans to be an “ologist.” We should have all striven for this. We'd make good money and meet interesting people with interesting illnesses (like me). I am not sure I'd want to be a proctologist, but maybe they make more than everybody, who knows. No reason to scoff at proctologists.

Anyway I think it was my cardiologist who suggested the sleep study to see if I stop breathing in my sleep. I guess this can affect blood pressure and mine was starting to creep upward. I know for a fact I snore; when I was a young kid living at home and my mother was messing around in the kitchen right below my bedroom, she could hear me through the ceiling. And I've spent months at a time out in my sister-in-law's brother's one room adobe and straw bale house in the California canyons driving him insane with insomnia. I slept in a fold-out love seat on the ground floor and he slept in a little loft. Therefore he could not poke or kick me. He tried ear plugs but they didn't really help, though he noticed that if he yelled “Quiet!” I would stop sometimes, except he got bored yelling “Quiet!” after awhile so he just started yelling out random things like “Karen Carpenter!” and “Phuket, Thailand!” and whatever else came to his mind. I never heard it, not consciously. But it did help the poor bastard get some rest, I guess.

Anyway I had no quarrel with getting a sleep study so they set it up and around 8 PM I made my way to the hospital. They suggested I immediately put nightclothes on and get comfortable. I had brought an old pair of jogging pants and a thin sweatshirt. The night started out on an inauspicious note when I went into the bathroom, saw no shelves to rest my things on while I got undressed, and draped the pants across the top of the sink, not realizing that would trigger the handle-less faucet. By the time I finished using the toilet and taking my outer clothes off the jogging pants were soaked. I put my jeans back on and wondered if there was a clothes dryer anywhere nearby and if I could use it. A nurse came into the room (it was a nondescript bedroom) and took them and said she'd put them on top of the sterilizing machine, that was always warm. Shortly thereafter a sullen young woman came in to hook wires to my head. This took forever. She had to use some sort of sticky stuff and I could feel my hair getting stickier and my head getting heavier with every minute. I figured there must be a load of wires (there were).

I tried making a little conversation with the girl because it vaguely reminded me of being at the hairdresser's – well, it was nothing like that, but it was the only association I had – and when you're at the hairdresser, chatting with the stylist is what you do. This woman was having none of that. None. She answered my questions in monosyllables and initiated no talk at all. Maybe she was just concentrating. Who knows. The nurse who had taken my pants came back in with them after an hour or so and said they were still too damp, so would I mind just wearing my jeans? Nope, I didn't mind.

This is NOT ME, of course, but this is pretty much what you look like
 after they finish hooking you up.

So they want you in bed by 10 PM and you can watch TV until 11. I don't know why I did, but I watched it until they finally came in and told me to shut it off at around 12:30. I was watching one of the late night talk shows, Jimmy Kimmel or somebody. I don't watch any of these shows at home so I thought it would be a little treat. After that I fell asleep very quickly (I'm pretty good at that) and they said push the call button if I found I had to use the bathroom as they'd have to unhook me. They would have me on closed circuit TV all night and there would be a film taken of me sleeping as they watched from another room. Maybe that's why the girl was sullen, because I'm not sure I'd want a job sitting in a room watching some doofus like myself just sleep, roll around and snore.

Seemed like no time at all I hear the girl's voice on an intercom saying “Okay, you're all through and you can get up now.” I was really conked off and found this very unfair. What harm would it be to them to just let you go on sleeping till a halfway decent hour? Not like they need the room because they don't do daytime sleep studies, I don't think. I was so groggy I don't even remember them pulling those wires off my scalp. Anyway, here it was the crack of dawn and the hospital cafeteria wasn't even open yet so without coffee I drove to the nearest Dunkin Donuts for some grub. I felt really odd. Later I realized I looked pretty odd too, with my hair sticking out in all directions full of dried goo of some sort. But they probably see all kinds in Dunkin Donuts.

The sleep study revealed that I did have mild sleep apnea but did not experience a reduction of oxygen during the periods of apnea, so there'd be no need to pursue any treatment other than plain old blood pressure meds. I found all this out later. That morning I drove home (18 miles, all highway thank Heavens since I was dopey) and got in bed for awhile. The cats, who had no doubt slept all night just fine without me, got in too. Then we all slept some more. Piece of cake, a sleep study. I feel my eyes getting heavy now just thinking about it. Probably won't stay up for the late show tonight.

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