Friday, May 4, 2012

The not-sleep study

"Language is the source of misunderstandings." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood." - William Penn

"Speak, Friend, and enter." - from Lord of the Rings by Tolkien

So I've wondered for years why driveways were where we parked while parkways are built to be driven upon.  Haven't you?  Bill Bryson cleared that up for me, at least the last part, in his book A Walk in the Woods.  Turns out that some of the earliest highways were intended to pass through scenic natural parkland in a manner which would engage the driver and passengers in a stately motoring experience, viewing the grandeur of the American wilderness.  In other words, roadways that pass through parkland.  Thus, parkways.  Get it? 

Granted, that makes me giggle now whenever I think of the "Garden State Parkway" through New Jersey.  But at least I know now what the word is supposed to mean.

That then brings me around to the topic for today: the "sleep study."  Yes, I've been going through trying to finally nail down these health issues I've been having.  One of the suggestions has been sleep apnea, a condition in which the body has trouble breathing when it sleeps.  It seems that the lack of breathing can cause a myriad of health issues, some of which I'm personally investigating.  Who knew?  So my doc referred me to a pulmonologist (a doctor who specializes in studying pulmo, which is the Latin word for lungs and doesn't seem to exist in any other language, a sad fact I learned as I spun through Google's Translate feature searching unsuccessfully for a funny quip) who in turn referred me to the sleep lab.  I skipped right up and scheduled the test for--well, for what ended up being last night.

Now, it's called a sleep study.  Was I really that stupid for assuming I'd get some sleep?

I tromped in at the time we'd arranged, carrying my laptop (because I still had plenty of time for writing between then and when I normally go to sleep) and my work clothes for today.  The tech looked at my clothes and asked, "So, you're going to work tomorrow?"

"Sure," I said.

She smiled and nodded in a manner that reminded me of my own expression when new students at orientation tell me they're going to get straight A's in every class even though they've never been to college before.


To my credit, I did try to write once I got hooked up to the matrix.  It's tough to rock the prose, though, when you have a sensor on your temple recording every time you blink, another behind your ear recording every time you move your head, a full EEG hooked up to your head to record brain waves (so what does an author's brain waves look like when he's writing, you ask?  I have no idea--the tech said they were magnificent, but I bet she says that to all the authors), straps around your chest and stomach to record breathing attempts and heart beat and other stuff, and even sensors on your legs (in spots that, in my case, are now memorialized by a thorough lack of hair). 

It's even harder to sleep.  Once the lights are out, there's this red glowing circle up high on the opposite wall, clearly pointing out the camera that is recording your every moment and movement on the bed.

To her credit, the tech who came in several times to rouse me out of what slumber I could find to try out different masks and stuff was super-sweet and really quite personable.  Overall, it wasn't all that unpleasant of an experience.  It just wasn't--sleep.  The only place you find sleep in a sleep study, then, is in the name.

Gotta love the mother tongue, eh?


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