Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hold Tight, Wear Something White

Thursday night I showed up at the Doctors Building (the actual name of the building, I know, how original) around 8:45 for my sleep study, something I wasn't really looking forward to, knowing as I did that some strange person was going to be gluing electrode discs to my person.

I grabbed the overnight bag out of the back of my car and ambled up to the front doors and for a whole two seconds, waited patiently for those normally automatic doors to whoosh open. But they didn't. So I walked around to the side of the building, smiling and nodding politely at the homeless man with patchy fuzzy hair, only to find not one single door that had a handle on the outside, only anonymous looking key holes and dim flickering lights over the double metal doors placed at intervals down the building.

So I discarded my casual ambling and stalked back up to the front, muttering to myself about what total bullshit it is to have people show up here for a sleep study with no clear indication of how to get in. Back at the front doors I pushed and pulled a little, knowing they wouldn't move but still feeling it was necessary to try. I decided it was Fate, I was meant to go home and sleep in the privacy of my own home, and I whipped open my cell phone and called the main number. I forced myself to sound Southern and Girly and Bemused but by the end of the message, I was just flat-out annoyed and I may or may not have ended the call with "Oh, fuckit, I'm going home."

Just as I was backing out of my parking space, however, I saw a heavyset woman with dyed dark hair wearing a set of those really ugly printed scrubs, the kind with strange geometric shapes and swirlies and lighting bolts of pure unadulterated color. She was coming out of a small glass door that had previously gone unseen on the right corner of the building. I continued backing out and pulled up next to the sidewalk as she was walking towards her car and asked her if she knew how one would go about getting in the building for the sleep study clinic.

Why yes, she told me, just hit that little button in the brick beside the front door and someone will buzz you in.

I parked my car again, grabbed my bag and walked back to the front door, this time noticing the small (and matte black) button placed inconspicuously about three quarters down the brick wall. How I was to EVER know that button was there, much less push it for entrance, I have no idea. But immediately after pressing the button a voice came through a speaker, telling me that I was to come to suite 506.

all right, whatever.

Inside I was greeted by a very energetic black man with arms and legs long enough to make me think he probably got teased for being a Gumby back in high school. After talking to him for a few minutes I realized his accent was familiar and I asked him where he was from.

"Hattiesburg, Mississippi, sugar! Where you from?"

I KNEW I'd recognized that speech! It's the same accent I used to have, before I had some wild idea about being a television anchor and made myself try and emulate the indistinguishable accents of CNN reporters. He'd said something about going down to Louisiana for a family reunion and he'd pronounced the name right- Loo-ze-hannah, not Lew-ees-ee-ana. And then he'd made a comment about the "yellah" scrubs he'd picked up the day before and I knew he was born and bred bayou rat.

We continued to chit chat for the hour it took to glue on all the little discs, inside my hair, on my temple, beside my eyes, on my chin, my neck, my chest and back, then finally down my legs. When he was done I laid down on the mattress and sighed a sigh of great relief. I'd been exhausted when I got there at nine and it hadn't been my turn for gluing until after ten, so by the time he flicked off the lights it was 11:30 and even with the mounds of wires and glue and strange surroundings, I fell right to sleep.

To be exact, I fell asleep in forty-five seconds.

And there was nothing I could do to stop it. I'd felt it on the way over, that this was a good sleep night. If I'd closed my eyes on the drive over I'm positive I could have fallen right to sleep. And it didn't matter that this was the one night I needed to behave like normal, I needed to lay in bed awake for hours, I needed to show up on those little graphs and charts as being the insomniac I most surely am. But Fate thwarted me and sent me right to La La land, just like I'd asked every single night for the past few years, finally answering my plea on the ONE NIGHT I didn't want it.

But that mattress was so comfortable and the room was so dark and the nice man who'd glued on my discs, well, he doesn't play for my team, eliminating any residual fear I might have had regarding late-night visits from unknown men. And I was just so tired I could have cried and I laid my head down on that pillow and was out before my Gumby friend had time to get himself a cup of coffee.

In the morning I sat in the small office of the sleep doctor while he told me he didn't think I had a problem with falling asleep, seeing as how I'd crashed mere seconds after the lights had gone out. I don't think he much believed me when I told him this was fluke, I could count on my hand the number of time in the past six years I'd been able to close my eyes and head to La La land. He smiled and said maybe that was so, but I still had other problems to deal with.

He pulled out a stack of graphs taken from the night before, each page showing a five minute section of time with varying lines for my heart level, my breathing patterns, leg movement and brain activity. He pointed to the sheet in front of him and told me that in that particular five minute span, I'd woken up six times. He pulled another graph out, another five minute log of time, and said I'd woken up four times. Another sheet, showing I'd come out of stage 2 sleep a total of six times. Then five. Then four again.

I'd only gotten about 30 minutes of stage four sleep, the kind I was supposed to have, and the rest of the time, he said, I'd spent an average of fifteen seconds for every minute completely awake.

At the end of the visit, after we'd discussed things we could do and surgeries I could have (I'm one of the lucky few who can't be helped by pretty little pills, dammit) I walked out of his office feeling totally validated. I wasn't crazy, I wasn't suicidal, I REALLY WAS JUST FUCKING TIRED.


Drunken Chud said...

i've always wanted to do a sleep study. not cuz i have a problem as serious as yours, but more cuz i am just an anomolous sleeper. i'll go a month at a time where all i can get is 3-4 hours sleep. then i'll go another month where anything but 9 hours is unacceptable. then i'll go days without sleep, crash for a couple hours and go a couple more. it's kinda fucked up. but, i guess you know that better than anyone.

hehehe, my word verification is oorno. so close...

duckie said...

dood. I remember from my college psych courses that if you don't get enough of the god old stage 2 REM sleep that you will go crazy and eat lots of chocolate cake, and have trouble walking up stairs, and sleep with knives under your mattress . . .

it's crazy shite.

lilylala6 said...

i am so glad you finally go the sleep study out of the way. so what next? are they going to give you a labatomy or what?

YoJ said...

Well thank GOD you got some rest, even if it was in weird increments.

I'd be scared that I'd scratch my crotch on camera, or worse yet, have another Fabio dream and the staff would all stare at me in the morning. Did you see YOUR tape?

Adam said...

Yoj, are you saying that THEY TAPE YOUR DREAMS?

That's awesome.