Friday, February 15, 2013

Post-Sleep, the second time

Me, partially gooped
My second trip to the sleep study clinic ended this morning at about 5:20am. I arrived last night and was greeted with a stack of paperwork identical to the stack I filled out when I visited two weeks ago. My sleeping habits haven't changed. My allergies haven't changed.  My height hasn't changed. The nurse (same one from last time) explained that they've tried to get the overseeing company to cut down, but they haven't responded.

It's just as well, because I got there for an 8pm appointment.  The paperwork took me about 10 minutes, and she immediately started sticking stuff and strapping things.  No time for my beloved Shakespeare volume, alas.  By 8:40, the lights were out and I was listening to the whirring of the air machine.

Even though I was supposedly using a different procedure than before (Bi-level, as opposed to Continuous), I feel different.  The mask was the same, covering only the nose.  The pumping machine seemed to be the same, but there must be a different button pushed.  I was expecting a more substantial difference.  

Right off the bat, I tried to sleep.  Maybe it was just a weird quirk last time making me unable to fall asleep.  After all, I was able to get through the application of all the sticky things without feeling faint this time -- a small victory that I felt proud of.  

But this time was no different.  Actually, it was a bit worse: the first time, the beginning of the evening was without a mask, while this session had the mask on from the start.  My mind wandered.  

After trying unsuccessfully to just SLEEP BAM!, my mind drifted away to Valentine's Day.  Unbidden, I started thinking of every woman I ever crushed on, every nice thing females had done for me, every relationship (two-sided or one).  

I was leaping through my past, watching dances in Junior High, lusts in high school, crushes in undergraduate.    Girls from classes in 6th grade popped up.  Forgotten bar nights in Chicago pubs resurfaced.  Long term relationships played on fast forward, circling back to play entirely different scenes.

I was entranced.  People I haven't devoted a thought to in 15 years appeared alongside women who have seldom left my conscience.  I laughed at the funny moments, such as trying getting the strength to call a popular girl from high school only to end up with her AND her friend out to lunch.  I cried at the heartbreak from moments I'd placed on shelves, like having a Kansas City girlfriend start a relationship with someone else while still ostensibly with me.  

The scenarios twisted and divided with no respect to time and place.  A cruel ex-girlfriend was standing over the young me's shoulder as I asked a girl to dance.  The one-who-got-away from Chicago was in a bar in Newcastle with the amazing dark-haired beauty.  

I thought of all the Valentine's Days.  I thought of the sapphire bracelet I gave when I couldn't be in town.  I thought of the dinner in my apartment that I cooked an exact copy of the week before, to avoid mistakes.  I thought about the years spent alone.  I thought of the years spent with single friends.

And all the while, the machine whirred and my breath made "in out. in out."  Occasionally my throat would catch and disrupt the process.  The machine doesn't breath for you, but it somewhat constrains the size of breath.  It will push air into the nose on the inhale, but sometimes it stops at a normal size.  To take the rest of a larger-size breath (which I inhale randomly over the course of a night's sleep), I was required to fight the mask, pulling air in through the small vents.

How I restrained from ripping the mask off, I'll never understand.  

Eventually, the flood of memories was stemmed by the unrelenting feeling of being present in the room with the machine.  Once again, there was only the breathing in the dark.  Attempts to think of other things fell off rails as soon as attempted.  Only the machine existed.  

I wondered how much time had elapsed.  It had been hours, my mind said.  Or had it only been two or three?

Eventually, I could no longer stand it and touched the intercom to break the boredom.  "Yes?"

I tried to speak, but the pressure mask interferes with normal airflow and communications.  I gulped like a mud bass.  "Dzharmel fsuilkil bathroom."  She came into the room and detached the mask, handing me the wire nexus device into which all the sensors on my body had a connection.  

I wish I had a good video of the slow and painful pantomime dance I did while trying to lower my shorts with one hand and trying not to detach the belts on my chest or the sensors on my calves.  The wires pulled at any sudden movement, so sometimes I would find my nexus box was too far from my head.  Or that my legs sensors had become entwined with the throat sensor -- figure THAT one.

As I headed back to the bed, I checked the time on my phone.  4:57am.  Are they going to make me sit for another hour?  But they relented and disconnected me.  I drove home drained and covered in the remnants of the sticky goop.

I showered and tried to decide whether or not to go to sleep or stay awake.  In a reverse of last time, I read news stories about the Siberian meteor strike, then dressed and went to my local Panera.  They were having a nice special on their souffle, so I had a gouda and sausage pastry with a bagel.  Afterwards, I drove to the grocery and bought orange juice and yogurt.  I returned home and had second breakfast, then practically fell unconscious into bed.  

Awakening after noon, I started making round two of the delicious pizza I made last week, using the second half of all the ingredients: goat cheese, red onion, sliced chorizo, Parmesan flakes, and a small tin of black olives to replace the Kalamata that were used up the first time.  Delicious.

And now, it snows.  Not a lot, probably not more than an inch.  But I've opened the blinds at my bedside and watch the flakes fall in the glow of the streetlamps.  

An acceptable end to two full days of wakefulness.  Good night!


  1. I like reading your stories. I notice you have several 'the past' tags, but no 'the future' tags or entries.

  2. It hadn't really occurred to me until you brought it up, Tara. I suppose I don't think or dwell a great deal on the future. I can't think of a particular reason why, offhand.