Several years ago, I had my first polysomnography (“PSG” for short), which is that test where they hook you up to a thousand electrodes and tell you to go to sleep.  I’ve had two others since then, and the funny thing is–each time, I’ve thought “Yeah, right,” and then immediately conked out and slept like a baby.  Any other night, I would’ve been staring at the ceiling, twiddling my thumbs, tossing and turning, reading, writing, searching for music worth listening to, watching my imagination run wild (kind of like what’s happening right now).  I don’t know why PSGs have that conk-out effect on me, but they do, and I’m sure it says it says something interesting about my psychology.

Each time, I thought “I just conked out and slept like a baby.  These people are going to think I’m a fraud.”

That being said, I’ve known perfectly well that sleep was the enemy since I was ten or twelve years old.  That’s when I started checking out, buying, and shoplifting books about sleep, relaxation, meditation, accupressure, and everything else that seemed applicable.  Nothing that I read really helped.

Even so, I was kind of surprised when the results from the first PSG came back.  Dr. Patterson sat there with his legs crossed and read off the pages.  “Well, you do have significant apnea.  You also have dyspnea, circadian dysrythmia, disrupted sleep architecture, insomnia,” and a few other things that I can’t really remember.

As I said, I’ve had two other PSGs since then, which just verified what the first one found.  I wonder what they would have found if it had been a typical night and I hadn’t conked out and slept like a baby.

Three PSGs, more consultations than I can count, multiple diagnoses, and so far all I have out of the deal is a CPAP–one of those machines that blows air into you when you stop breathing in your sleep.  It’s a cute little R2D2-ish gadget that sits quietly in a corner of my bedroom, but it don’t do squat for my inability to go to sleep or stay asleep and it doesn’t even begin to touch my bizarre sleep-walking episodes (“sleep-driving” and “sleep-carpentry” would be more accurate).

My ex, who got fed up with all this nonsense, once jabbed me in the ribs and said, “Hey, wake up.  You’re not breathing.”

“Oh.  Thanks.”

“No big deal.  You do it all the time.”

“Wait a minute–I do it all the time, and this is the first time that you brought it to my attention?”

“Well, this time was worse.  It lasted longer.”

I still don’t know what to think about that.

My dad had apnea too, but that was before the days of PSGs and CPAPs–just another thing he had to live with.

The thing that screws my life up the most is that I get sleepless for weeks at a time, and then I, out of the blue, crash hard and sleep through alarm clocks, earthquakes, cat fights–you name it.  I’ve lost quite a few jobs for that very reason.

Dr. Patterson told me that I ought to be on disability.  “Cool!” was my first thought; “I get one of those parking tags.”  But it turned out to be a huge hassle.  My first effort took about a year and got shot down.  I started the appeal process and about half way through it, I thought “Screw it.  I’d rather be working and getting paychecks.”  So I got a job, and then lost it about six months later because I slept through my alarm clock.

NAUGHTY LANGUAGE ALERT

The thing that really pisses me off is when people tell me, “Well, maybe you should try to go to bed earlier.”

Honestly, you think that’s never occurred to me?  I’ve been dealing with this shit since I was ten or twelve and I’ve tried everything.

Another thing that pisses me off is when people tell me “Well, maybe you should try using two alarm clocks instead of just the one.”

Again, do you honestly think that didn’t occur to me decades ago?  It did occur to me, it did not work then, and it does not work now.  Shut the fuck up and stop acting like you know more about this shit than I do.

When I was a kid, I took apart an alarm clock and reworked it so that there was a string yanking on my big toe instead of a clapper striking a bell.  No, it didn’t wake me up.  If it had worked, I’d still be using it.

I like being awake, and I like being asleep.  What I’m fucking tired of is this in-between bullshit, which is how I spend my entire life.

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