There was something very Twilight Zone about the whole Sleep Study. I was ass tired as usual (oops, was that me that almost wrecked the car in the parking lot? Ha, ha!) when I got to the clinic, which may have colored my perception a bit. Still, we felt like a strange lot: all of us had managed to win some sort of slightly askew lottery and were here to cash in our travel vouchers with our duffel bags or rolling suitcases in hand. One by one we filed silently into the mostly deserted building on Wednesday evening as the sun started to set over the hills. How odd it felt to not have to check in at a front desk, or go through some sort of security procedure. Just muffled, carpeted hallways, staggering groggily along.
It was super obvious that we were all there for the same thing, but no one spoke to each other. We all sat in silence in the waiting room until a bespectacled and balding man with a clipboard and a white coat came in. He greeted us by name as if we were long lost relatives seeing each other for the first time in a few years; that is, after surreptitiously glancing at his list between each person.
We followed him in a line down the hallway like Alice going after the White Rabbit. One by one, patients dispapeared into rooms. Then there was one, and I was escorted into the final room. It was a nice enough room; a single bed, tv on the wall, heavily shuttered windows, and a lone swivel chair draped with wires next to a tray of syringes and other medical paraphenelia. The Rabbit pointed out the observation camera and then followed it with a sweeping gesture towards the bathroom, should I require any privacy. Then, glancing at his pocket watch, he sped off, door closing behind him.
And there I sat.
For about 2 hours, I just hung out. Once or twice someone of the medical persuasion came in to introduce themselves, but never stayed much past introductions. Unlike every other hospital/medical experience I've had, the place was not bustling with activity. No one came in every 20 minutes to check my blood pressure, or take some sort of sample. There were no intercoms going off, no clatter of trays going past in the hallway. It was almost a feeling of solitary confinement. Once or twice I caught the sound of muffled laughter from some unknown location and I was reminded that a room full of people would soon be spending the night staring at me. Slightly creepy. But I pushed through that feeling by watching lots and lots of bad broatcast TV.
Whew! Talk about surreal! When you don't have television in your house, it can be a real slap in the face. "Americas Next Model": where anorexic teens simper after the chance to turn into a brainless and vapid model like Tara Banks! Sports Center: where every available surface is covered with a sponsor's slogan! Some sitcom with Jim Belushi and a laugh track: umm, dear god, that was bad. Waiter, may I have that boot to the head now, instead of with my entree?
Four days later, a woman came in and started to wire me up. She was quite friendly, chatty, and answered all of my questions. This was a bonus in that it took at least 60 minutes to get me fully geared up for the night. I had wires cemented (no lie) to my scalp, taped to my face, my neck, my torso, and even my legs. 30 in all when she was finished. Half the wires ran under my pajamas and met all of the other wires on a breadbox hung around my neck. I also had some sort of breath sensor taped into my nose. The stylish monitors strapped around my upper chest and belly helpfully accentuated my stylish bulges and finished off a stunning ensemble of the latest in sleep technology. Yes, I was sex on wheels, let me tell you. Well, maybe if I'd accidentally stumbled into R2D2 and C3PO, anyhow.
I was then given the all clear to fall asleep, which I had wanted to do since I left my house for the study. I worried that the wires and bits would keep me awake, but the bread box and most of the wires were tucked fairly out of the way, and I'm sure that Ambien didn't hurt anything. I was out like a light. Not suprisingly I still had a fairly rough nights sleep (typical,) but at least I had some interesting dreams, at the very least which involved Burning Man and the gym teacher from Freaks and Geeks (ahem.)
At 7 am, I was woken up by a nurse and voila! My mini vacation was over. After 20 minutes of wire removal, my hair was permanently sculpted into a coiffure a la shock therapy and I was free to go. Again, very strange in that there was no paper work to sign, no release forms, no one to say goodbye to or check out with. Just gather up your things and go, young lady! Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out! I briefly considered leaving a tip, but instead just grabbed my toothpaste and left. Interestingly I passed a bunch of regular office employees just arriving at work, freshly showered and carrying steaming cups of caffeine in their hands as I left through the heavy glass doors. How odd must it be to pass the staggering masses leaving your building as you are arriving every day!
Two weeks until I get my official diagnosis. I must say, I am fairly excited about the notion of sleeping the night through and not feeling like shit all the time, even to the point where the leaf blower strapped to my face is starting to sound like fun! With the tumor, I had been told of how fantastic I was going to feel on the other side of surgery, but did not get too attached to the idea as I'd had my hopes dashed too many times up until then. Not so this time. I have put all of my eggs in one basket, all of my money is on red, have closed my eyes and jumped -- all with the belief that this is gonna fix it all!
Dear god, lemme be right. If only to make this stupendously horryfying picture worth it:Oh, and I'm sorry. Now that you've seen this picture, I'm afraid I have to kill you. Have a nice day!