Journal entry: Deep Sleep, November 8, 2007 (age 38)
Fluorescent lights flickered above me, casting a sickly glow over the drab walls of the room. Lying stiffly on a twin-size bed, I looked around at the tangle of wires running from a metal box on an IV pole to various parts of my body. Straps encircled my ankles, my abdomen, and my chest. Electrodes were taped and gooped to my sides, my neck, my head, and my face. A circle of scarlet lights surrounded an infrared camera mounted on the ceiling, watching my every move. An emotionless voice emanated from a speaker somewhere in the room. “We’re going to turn the lights off now, so you can go to sleep.”
“Roger that, Mission Control,” I said to the voice. The lack of a chuckle in response made me realize that the four sleep study technicians in an adjoining room had already heard every possible joke about this situation. I thought about but quickly rejected an allusion to A Clockwork Orange, figuring the team had also heard many lame cracks about the red, red krovvy rushing to one’s gulliver in anticipation of being forced to watch the old ultraviolence. Some Ludwig Van would have been nice, though.
My mind raced for what seemed like forever, as I tried to fall asleep. Knowing that a group of technicians was scrutinizing my blood pressure, oxygenation level, breathing rate, leg and eye movements, and brainwave activity somehow failed to soothe me. I rolled over onto one side, musing, “I wonder what they think about this.” The most disturbing thought was that my wife, Amanda, might have put in a request to monitor the methane levels in the room. As I thrashed around in the dorm room-sized bed, I pictured the hushed conversations that would occur once my brainwaves had slipped into the alpha zone.
“We have drooling in sector 4.”
“The subject scratched himself at 0400 hours, and again at 0403.”
“At 13 decibels, the subject just stated that Scrappy Doo should be euthanized.”
All of that happened last night, in a nondescript bunker below the Lourdes Medical Office Tower. I did manage to fall asleep eventually, and was woken at 5 this morning. The testing was not over. Now I was required to stay awake for an hour-and-a-half, then sleep for 20 minutes, and repeat this process three times. A pleasant, sweet-voiced woman named Joyce came in each time to put me down for my nippy-nap. I threw a bit of a tantrum about having to turn off the TV (and The Wiggles), but I knew Joyce would explain my tears to her co-workers. “He gets fussy when he’s overtired – he’s had a very big day today.”
When it was time to leave, I was told that I had snored quite a bit during the night, but that I would have to wait for a follow-up appointment with a doctor to discuss whether or not I have sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or just the metabolism of a tree sloth.
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