I’d heard about sleep doctors and sleep studies. I had a couple of friends who had actually done one. But they creeped me out. The sleep studies, not the friends.
I had this vision of a sterile laboratory, horrible chemical smells and greenish, buzzing lights that flickered.
I’m strapped to a gurney in a glass room. Catheters and multi-colored tubes connect me to some machine like a lethal injection candidate. Two guys in stained lab coats hover over monitors and adjust high definition cameras focused on me. And then everything goes black as I fall asleep snoring and drooling like Homer Simpson.
I’m jolted awake the next morning to a spotlight being turned on me. The room I went to sleep in is completely gone and now I’m on stage in a macabre theater in the round. The two-way mirrors have faded away, and I can just make out where dozens of doctors sit shrouded in semi-darkness on the other side of the glass. They’re all pointing and laughing at me from the other side of the soundproof barrier which makes it all the more eerie. I feel like Woody Allen in a Twilight Zone episode.
A hidden door from the glass wall opens and an official looking guy in a lab coat with a clipboard, steps out. The sound of laughter explodes into the lab like firecrackers. It’s completely gone the second the door closes behind him. I stare at the laughing mimes on the other side of the glass. He clicks a button. There on the screen, in way too many pixels, is me, asleep on the gurney.
“Yes Mick, as you can see here, at 1am after scratching yourself rather indecently, you started snoring, choking and drooling while on your left side. At 2:30, the flatulence was so bad, we had to vent the lab as oxygen levels dropped dangerously. At 2:45am, you were back to drooling and scratching yourself indecently again.”
It may not seem like it, but I do have a little bit of pride. That image of what a sleep study was surely like kept me away from one for at least 5-6 years. And now, here I was.
I went to meet the sleep doctor and feigned a non-plussed attitude in the waiting room while I read People Magazines from 1997. There was a ream of paperwork and by the end of the stack, I was sure they knew more about me than my closest relatives. Finally, I got to see the Doctor who was so shocked by my paperwork, that he said I could do a home-study since I was almost certainly a candidate for sleep aids. That was the best news I’d heard all day! I was thrilled to take home a very complex device that was going to measure my sleep. He also measured my neck and seemed impressed by how fat it was.
After going through a long, boring, detailed demonstration of the sleep study device, the Doctor was quite clear about one thing.
“You should do everything exactly the way you always do. If you drink a lot of wine before bed, you should drink a lot of wine before bed. If you eat too late, too spicy, or too much, that’s what you should do for the sleep test.”
This sleep study was looking better every minute.
[to be continued…]