Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Are You Asleep?

I don't often share personal things, but my newest experience--a sleep study--was too funny not to share.  When I got home and told him all about it, John said, "Oh, good, now you can make a character do a sleep study." 

And you never know. It just might happen. Some of the tiniest details of real life have appeared in my writing and if I carefully choose which character and where in their story it happens, it works.


Last night I did the strangest thing I’ve ever done in my life so far—a sleep study. I realize some of you may have done this, but for those who haven’t and find yourselves in need of this test, let my experience be a guide for you.

I have had disrupted sleep since I was twelve—that’s 4 ½ decades—due to Fibromyalgia. My primary care doctor wants to pin down any possible cause beyond Fibro for my problems, so off to the sleep doctor I went.

The sleep doctor was reassuring because 1) he can diagnose Fibro from the brain waves (Hurrah!), 2) Apnea and restless legs run with Fibro (I’m game to try a CPAP if I need one), and 3) don’t worry, the lab is like a hotel room. Wear your normal pajamas.

So far, so good.

Then I made some startling discoveries.

First discovery: Yes, the room was like a hotel room—a well-appointed one—except there are not towels, washcloths, tiny shampoos, and soaps. Oh, well, I thought, I’ll make do with the paper towel dispenser for washing my face since I did bring some soap. I’d shower when I got home. The other problem was it had an air freshener. I had that removed because it’s a trigger for my asthma. But the smell lingered in the air and the bedclothes.

Second discovery: The technician kept asking me if I needed anything, neglecting to tell me she had towels, washcloths, and shampoo. : (

Third discovery: There was no way to contact the “outside” world between the intake paperwork and time to wire up for sleep. No intercom. No call button. No phone. So, even if I’d thought to ask for linens, I’d been out of luck.

Fourth discovery: Oh, the wires! Miles of them! I had 27 leads attached to my legs, chest, by my eyes, on my chin, and ten just for my head. It was like someone had dumped a bowl of spaghetti on the bed! When I needed to pee, I had to get the tech to help. (Thank goodness, the intercom works during the test.) Let’s just say, I managed to ask to pee only once. Once was enough. Being careful not to get any wires in the pot or down my pants (except for the ones that were _supposed_ to be there), was a feat! Once back in bed, I had to go to sleep again with every lead a hard lump that dug into me at every turn.

Fifth discovery: I thought the sleeping part was hard, but getting unwired was even harder! The ten leads attached to my head were held in place by industrial strength goo. After they were removed I was left with a “faux hawk”. Now, my hair is straight as a stick and I’d have sworn it could never be styled in such a manner, but there it was in all its gory…er…glory. The tech gave me tips for how to wash it off when she brought in the missing towels, washcloths, and shampoo. When I asked why they hadn’t already been in the room, she said the hospital management company wouldn’t let them. Needless to say, I added _that_ to my post-study comments!

Sixth discovery: Industrial strength goo takes industrial strength effort to remove. I finally managed to stop feeling sticky after two showers, three latherings of my hair, four face washings, and five ear washings. The latter was necessary to get to layer of gunk out of the valley between my ears and my head.

So, if you find yourself in need of a sleep study, ask for linens and shampoo! Tonight, I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own, perfectly comfortable bed complete with a pillow that fits my shoulders and bed linens that don’t stink like fake flowers.

Happy ZZZZZZZs to you all! Sweet Dreams!

And the results are: (drum roll, please) No apnea, no restless legs, just the strange and unrestful brain waves of a person with chronic pain. It's called alpha-delta sleep in which the alpha waves (full consciousness) intrude on the delta waves (restorative sleep). No wonder I'm tired all the time, but at least I now know why!

Have you ever included experiences like this in your writing?

Next week, I have another Author Interview for you~~Kerry Lynne. Her new book PIRATE CAPTAIN: CHRONICLES OF A LEGEND is a good read. Be sure to check the post out. ; )