When I was a little kid, my mom bought me a marionette for Christmas one year. I was an aspiring puppeteer I guess, and had dreams of working for Jim Henson on Sesame Street. But my aspirations were fleeting and they didn’t last more than a couple of days at most. So my little wooden friend would end up at the bottom of the toy box, forgotten for extended periods of time until I’d come across him searching for something else and my dreams of being a puppet master would return again.
When I would rediscover him, I would pull him out of the toy box and his arms and legs would be twisted all about his body, because the strings attached to them were tangled up in every way imaginable. Looking at the snarled strings and sticks that were wrapped around the puppet, you would never think a person could unravel the mess. It would take me hours to untangle him. The morning I woke up from my sleep test, I felt like that puppet.
There were wires and clamps everywhere it seemed, At some point during the night, I must have rolled over because they had managed to get underneath me too. I started thrashing around like a fish caught in a net, when the lights came on and the door opened. The nice lady came in to make sure I was awake, and started to unhook me from my electronic snare. She could tell I was anxious to get out of there, so she got right to work disconnecting me from the nightmare apparatus.
“How did you sleep?” she asked.
I knew she was just being pleasant because she knew better than I did how well I slept. After all, I had been hooked up to some sort of sleep assessing supercomputer, and I was sure she had all the data she needed to answer that question. Not only did she know how well I slept, she knew when my eyes moved, my breathing and heart rate accelerated, when I snored or coughed and probably even knew if I farted in my sleep (which I’m sure I don’t do, just for the record).
“Aren’t you supposed to tell me how I slept?” I asked.
“We just collect raw data,” she said with a smile, “It still needs to be analyzed and processed before we can come to any conclusions.”
Well, I had all the data she needed. I slept like crap. Every time I tried to roll over or move, one of the damn wires would tug on whatever electrode it was plugged into, and the super glue they had used to affix it to my skin made sure nothing was coming off… ever. So I lay there most of the night, waiting for sleep to come, all the while being woke back up anytime a wire pulled on its skin anchor. Finally when I got to the point of exhaustion, I fell asleep only to have them wake me up through the intercom a few moments later. Why is it when we can’t sleep, we finally doze off only moments before we have to wake up? I guess that’s just one of life’s little mysteries.
Finally, after I was free. I was able to get up and get ready to leave. I showered, got dressed and met the Nice Lady in the office. She said it would take a few days to compile the data, and then I could come back and meet with the doctor to discuss a way forward. I agreed and thanked her for everything, and with nothing else to do at 7:00 AM on a Wednesday morning, I left the Sleep Study Clinic and drove straight to work. I walked into my building, made myself a coffee, sat down at my desk and promptly fell asleep.
A week or so later I returned for my appointment with the Sleep Doctor. Now you’re probably not going to believe this, but the results showed I needed a CPAP machine. I know, I was as shocked as you are right now when I first heard the news myself. He said my symptoms of sleep apnea weren’t severe, but the data showed that there were some indication that I may need a CPAP to correct the issues I was having, even though they were mild.
“I really don’t see me using one of those things,” I told him. “I travel a lot, and I spend time out in the field with the Reserve. I don’t think that using a system like that would be practical with my lifestyle”
What I really wanted to tell him was that thing looked ridiculous. I couldn’t imagine having to sleep with that thing over my face every night. I mean, I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if I slept alone, but I have a wife, and I doubt she wants to sleep next to a guy in an oxygen mask hooked up to an air compressor. Not to mention the hurt it could put on my love life. It was hard enough to trying to be romantic looking the way I do, let alone sticking a hoover vacuum hose over my face. Nothing gets a lady in the mood like a CPAP machine.
“Everybody says that at first,” he said, (referring to my lifestyle point, not the sexual deterrent stuff. I kept that all to myself ). “But once you try it, you’ll kick yourself for not doing it sooner. Everyone agrees it’s the best night sleep they’ve ever had in their life.
What could I do? He had me at ‘best sleep of their life’. So I took the bait, scheduled an appointment and planned to go back for round two. I started to believe in this magic device that was going to change my life. What did I have to lose? The experience couldn’t be any worse than the last ordeal I went through.
Or could it?
…To be continued….