In the Hospital

So, I spent the night in the hospital last night. Not for me, for my wife.

She had shoulder surgery yesterday. The surgery went well, but she has a difficult time coming out of anesthesia. She told her doctor, she told her anesthesiologist, she told the nurses, she told the mailman (he was concerned), but it doesn’t matter. When she can’t wake up, people are amazed – because they are never the people she’s told.

In their defense, when a normal person, say me, has any day surgery that ends at 3:30pm, I will be coherent at 4:00pm, and out the door by 4:30pm – at the latest.

She will be out of surgery at 3:30pm, cranky by 4:30pm and barely awake at 7pm, assuming a good tailwind.

Here’s the issue: with more and more day surgery “hospitals”, they really want you out by six because they’re closing for the evening.

To get her out by six, surgery should have started last Tuesday.

So, her shoulder surgery started at 3pm, she was admitted to the hospital by 7pm and at 9pm, she was ordering Dominos because the cafeteria was closed. (Yes, they deliver to the hospital.)

I’m waiting to see the diagnosis for her admittance because I think it will be “couldn’t wake up.” Usually, “couldn’t wake up” in a hospital means people with paddles yelling “Clear!” and pressing on your chest and blowing in your mouth.

In this case, it was a nurse who had a bus to catch, and said, “If you can’t get up, we have to admit you.”

This is a stupid threat to make to someone who likes being waited on, and spends a lot of her spare time with various doctors.

It is a doubly stupid threat to make when the other person in the room is trying to postpone being the caregiver as long as possible.

So, she was admitted for “sleepiness”, and then she sent me off home to gather the four tons of supplies she doesn’t carry in her purse – which is probably what weakened her shoulder in the first place.

By the time I ate dinner, got home, walked the dogs, medicated the dogs, corralled the dogs, gathered up the four ton laundry list from the four corners of the house and got back to the hospital, it was after midnight, so I decided to just stay.

This gets many good husband points, and a crick in the neck.

I almost never sleep in a chair, except on Thanksgiving or in meetings, but the recliner was like a business class seat without the annoying person blocking the aisle.

I never use blankets on a plane, but when I woke up at four with my teeth chattering, I decided to make an exception.

(It turned out it was in the 60s in the room, so either the A/C works or the heat doesn’t.)

I slept like a baby, which is to say I woke up every couple of hours to pee and spent the rest of the time sobbing quietly, wrapped in my blankie.

So, it’s morning and we’re waiting for discharge papers. After that, we have to get the four tons of equipment I retrieved plus all of her new medical equipment home and unpacked.

Then, we set her up in a chair and teach the dogs, “No! Not on Mommy’s shoulder!”

Then, I’m taking a nap.

Hamlet at Quest Diagnostics 

It’s a little jar. How hard can it be?

So, the Rocky and the Rat (ex-rat) saga continues. Rocky has been diagnosed with leptospirosis, which is a bacterial infection. It is possible he contracted it before he killed the rat, especially since it showed up so quickly. On the bright side, it’s a zoonotic disease, wnich means we can catch it from him. Joy.

Rocky had a blood test to see if he was infected. He was. This means we all need blood tests, as well. Well, the people do. If one dog has lepto, you just treat all the dogs. We may all end up on the same antibiotics.

Leptospirosis has two phases – the first is detected in blood, the second is detected in urine. This becomes important as we progress.

After calming down about Rocky testing positive, the Spousal Unit called our family doctor and said we needed a leptospirosis test. I have a feeling we may be the first people to request this specific test. We may be the first people to request any test. 

His nurse called this morning to tell us the tests were ordered, and we just had to go to Quest Diagnostics whenever we could.

I like Quest. They’re fast, there’s no appointments and they always get my blood on the first stick. So, when the Spousal Unit asked if we should go to lunch or Quest first, I thought we should get the bloodwork done first. How long could it take?

We got to Quest and I got stuck. Two tubes of blood, since the phlebotomist had never heard of the test. Time for lunch!

Then, she handed me a little jar, and muttered something about a urine sample. Warning, Will Robinson!

I should explain. When the Spousal Unit runs errands, she will run two days to six weeks worth of errands in an afternoon. So, there’s no telling where we are going to end up, or how long we will be gone. Therefore, I always pee before we leave.

I really wish someone had mentioned we were going to have to pee and not just bleed. It’s an important detail.

Oh, well. How hard can it be?

Apparently, very difficult.

Into the restroom, prepare to fill jar.

Nothing.

Concentrate.

Nothing.

I told the phlebotomist I needed to come back later.

She said she needed both samples together. I wasn’t allowed to leave. I was a prisoner. 

I wish she would have told me this before she harvested my two tubes of blood.

She asked if I wanted some water, to help the cause. So, armed with my three ounces of H2O, back to the bathroom I go.

Nothing.

Maybe I just need more water. I turn on the sink and there is no cold water. I don’t mean the cold water isn’t really cold – I mean turning the handle makes nothing appear. On the bright side, the hot water works and it’s not hot, it’s lukewarm.

Lukewarm water is not very pleasant. 

I could ask for more water from the phlebotomist but she wasn’t very happy to see me the last time, so I think I’ll just stick with lukewarm. Ugh.

Three cups of lukewarm water. Yummy.

How much water could it possibly take before I have to pee?

More than 14 ounces of lukewarm water, it appears.

At this point, I had been concentrating so long, I was beginning to sweat. Hmm. Would sweat be an acceptable substitute? Spit? Lukewarm tap water?

Three more cups of lukewarm water.

Hysteria was about to set in. Luckily, that’s when the Spousal Unit texted me.

Ping! “Everything ok in there?”

Autocorrect does not like my answer.

Time to find a distraction.

I could read the soap bottles. There’s a small table, but nothing’s in it, not even the magazines guys need for that other sample.

Ping! “How’s it going in there?”

Stop bothering me! I’m busy not producing a sample!

Ping! “I have to pee again. Do you want me to do it for you?”

Hardy-freakin-hair-har. Do I mock you in times of crisis? (Hmm. Question withdrawn.)

When all else fails, try the classics. This is the one time a prep school education pays off.

I hold the little jar towards the sky. I take a breath, and in a deep voice (for me), I intone, “To pee or not to pee … that is the question.” 

Nothing.

I begin to giggle. Then, I begin to weep.

Hey, do tears count?

I’m now trying to push the sweat beads on my forehead back in, so they will find another way to escape.

The Spousal Unit finally asked the staff if I could go get a drink, and I guess if you block one of their two restrooms for an hour, they’ll let you out. Plus, some of them were beginning to wonder if I was still alive, and found it hilarious we were texting.
Stay alive. Don’t text and pee.

I had been trying to pee for so long, the hospital cafe was closed. Sure, it closes ridiculously early, but still.

Luckily, the Subway one building over was still open. Up one floor, across the sky bridge, and there it was. I went just for a drink, and realized I was starving. Oh, right, we came here before lunch.

It’s 4:30pm. Quest closes at five. Time to slam down a snack and drink as much Mr Pibb as humanly possible.

What a romantic lunch. Subway sandwiches in a hospital. Can I at least take four sips before the Spousal Unit asks if I need to pee yet? 

18 ounces of soda in eight minutes. Then, speed walking back to the other building.

My phlebotomist is gone. That removes some of the pressure. I don’t like being judged.

Retrieved my jar – the only one left on the shelf – and nobody had filled it for me while I was gone. So much for prayers being answered. It’s probably because I wasn’t sure who the patron Saint of pee is. 

I went into the other restroom. Maybe it was the restroom.

Drained the rest of the soda.

Wait.

I have to pee!

Hallelujah!

I have to pee!

Praise the Lord!

I have to pee!

Crap! Where’s the damn jar?

Found it. Filled it. Sealed it.

Well, that was a fun afternoon.

Washed my hands. Oh, look! The cold water works in this restroom.

Headed home at last.

Let all the dogs out. They all peed immediately. The bastards.

I’ve peed twice while writing this. I’m thinking I should be saving it for next time, just in case.

Recycling The Hits

Television commercials need background music, so the easiest path is to find an old song and license it – it also helps target the commercial to a particular audience. (If I hear 70s music, it’s probably pointed at me. 60s music? Burned-out baby burners. I’m still burning, so not me. Really loud music? Old folks. Porn music? ED sufferers.)

The problem for me is that I always react to the song and not to the ad. Remember the brouhaha when Michael Jackson let Nike (I think) use “Revolution”? It’s the same thing. I think it was Nike. I’m pretty sure it was Nike. I know what the song was.

I had the same issue with “Bad Moon Rising” which was in somebody’s ad recently. All I could think was “CCR? Really?” I have no idea who the sponsor was. They have good taste in music, but “Bad Moon Rising” is not exactly cheerful – the music may be, but the lyrics aren’t. John Fogerty said it was about the coming apocalypse. That should sell sneakers.

I wonder about how successful this methodology really is. I suppose if you’re a person who hears the music and flashes momentarily to your (hopefully happy) teenage years, and you don’t think about the lyrics too much, or the fact that some of the players are no longer with us, then it may work, and get you to actually watch the commercial.

However, in my house, at least, the music in commercials just annoys my wife, because I will immediately start by identifying the music, then discussing the origins of the song, rehashing any trivia I know about the song, explaining why the lyrics make no sense for the given commercial, given the product in question, and not paying attention to any of the brand messaging. Worse, sometimes my song lectures (which apparently are not as interesting to all as to me) will make me fast-forward past the resumption of the show. So, music in commercials can be hazardous to my health.

At long last, the point I was going to make – as in, the song that finally made me write this down.

The other night, we were watching something on the DVR, so I was about to spin past the commercials, when the opening guitars from ELO’s “Do Ya” started playing. I love that song. The lyrics are a bit sketchy in places, but the guitars are great.

I mean:

I’ve seen old men crying at their own grave sides
And I’ve seen pigs all sitting watching
Picture slides

Methinks Jeff Lynne may have listened to “I Am the Walrus” a few too many times over the years.

So, the commercial in question was probably pointed at me and my generation. However, the end result was that I paused the DVR, went and played the song on my iPad while the Spousal Unit went to get a refill in the kitchen, and I then I skipped over the commercial. Plus, I missed the next section of the show we were watching, trying to figure out why pigs were watching picture slides. I’m almost forty years older now than the first time I heard this song, and I still don’t know what the hell Jeff Lynne is talking about – but the guitars are still great.

I’ve had “Do Ya” stuck in my head for three days. Three days. Three freakin’ days. I have no idea what the commercial was selling.

Thank you, Jeff Lynne. I can’t get it out of my head. Yes, I see the irony. (See? Music trivia. I can’t help myself.)

Colonoscopy

A man’s life goes through stages, some fun, many not. A lot of men will end up melancholy, depressed or angry. It’s like the stages of death –

  • Playful (Childhood)
  • Studious (School)
  • Overworked (Career)
  • Melancholy (Mid-career)
  • Stressed (Late career)
  • Angry (Very late career)
  • Resigned (Retired or dead)

As a man progresses through the stages, people around him notice the changes. Most will not comment directly to him, since that may just trigger the next stage. However, people go from “Wow, Kevin’s annoyed” to “Jeez, Kevin’s in a foul mood” to “Holy crap, what got up his ass?”

Sometime after you get to the age where many people are asking “Holy crap, what got up his ass?”, your doctor says, “Hey, I know a guy. Let’s find out.”

How do they find out what’s got up your ass? A colonoscopy.

Mine is Wednesday. I’m supposed to be at the hospital at 6:30am. I’m not looking forward to it.

I don’t like any procedure where the prep work starts five days in advance, you have a specific diet to follow, and you have to drink a half-gallon of some toxic fluids – twice – including one dose at 3am. Yes, three in the morning. So, poop all evening, then poop first thing in the morning. I guess it will prepare you for old age, but still.

They have a camera that can be inserted in the body and show your innards. Technology is wonderful! Why can’t they add a flash, so it could just see through any poop on the walls?

I don’t like any procedure that requires me to write “poop on the walls.”

Someone is going to knock me out, and then someone is going to stick a probe where the sun doesn’t shine. In college, that’s called “date rape.” In the business world, it’s called an “all-day meeting.”

Also, how should I trust a doctor who went through all the preparations, successfully graduated from medical school, studied the entire human body, and said, “I’ll take the poop chute. That sounds like fun to me.”

Horrors.

A Eulogy, Of Sorts

My brother-in-law Jack passed away just over a week ago. His services were this week, so it has been a little bit insane around here.

We’ve had enough deaths in the family and extended family over the past few years where the rituals all seem very familiar, but not any less painful. Call the funeral home, schedule the Mass, pick the readings, set up the website, etc. It’s the business of death, and you’re on a timer. It’s ugly, and you don’t get a lot of time to reflect.

Jack was the one person in my collection of in-laws that I should have been closer to – and I don’t really know why I wasn’t. He lived only twenty or so miles away, he was an IT manager (like me – but his role was much more important), he was middle-aged (like me), he was married to a Pesce (like me.) The list goes on and on. I guess I didn’t make enough of an effort. Plus, he was always busy, helping someone somewhere – either at work or Church.

Something that occurred to me after he was buried this week – When my Mom-in-law passed away, I thought, “No more pain.” When my Dad passed away, I thought “No more arguments.” When Jack passed away, I thought “That should have been me.”

Not “could“, but “should.”

I’m not sure why I thought I should be dead instead of Jack. Possibly because I had a Doppler test that showed my carotid arteries were blocked 20 – 30% the day before he collapsed at work. I was told that nothing was done until you hit 70% or so. My doctor changed my blood pressure medication, and that was it.

So, I may have bad arteries, but not bad enough to fix.

Jack had a bad heart. The physical one. It was functioning at 45% at his last test, but his doctor didn’t think he needed a pacemaker. So, he had a bad heart, but not bad enough to fix.

I am a bit concerned about doctors and their advice now.

While Jack had a bad physical heart, his spiritual heart was larger than almost anyone I know.  He had at least three families – his biological one with his wife, daughters and relatives; his spiritual one, as he was a Deacon at his Church; and his business one, since he was a manager at Verizon.

All of his families came to pay their respects. In force.

It was selfish, I suppose, that one of my thoughts the day after he passed away was, “Please, Lord, don’t make me do another eulogy.” Luckily for me, there were plenty of people who had spent more time with him that stepped up to the challenge, from all of his families.

Not that I wouldn’t have done one. I would have talked about arena football and baseball and statistics and cruises and Mojitos, which were not covered at length by those who knew him from Church or work.

There are times you realize you are close to someone from a familial sense, but not close at all in another. Jack managed a test lab at Verizon – his team validated equipment before it was placed into service in the Verizon network. I finally found out what he did after he passed away. I started my career in telecom almost thirty years ago, helping run a small long distance company’s computer center. We had that in common, and we never talked about it, because I never found out about it.

If you don’t know what your relatives do, go find out. You may be surprised.

Jack and I had baseball in common, but you just don’t talk much during baseball games – and I’m not sure I ever heard him curse, and if a game was playing somewhere, it was probably also on the TV at Jack’s house.

My wife and I had season tickets to the Grand Prairie AirHogs for years, and we never got him to a game. I feel guilty and disappointed at the same time about that.

I will always be grateful to Jack that my wife knows as much about sports as she does, and it’s because he taught her by taking her to games while she was growing up. I have to explain very little to her, which has saved me a lot of time and stress.

I could have asked him how to survive an Italian-American wife, because if he could have explained that, it would have been one of the miracles he needs for Sainthood.

When I got promoted to manager at IBM last year, Jack was the one person around me that had a similar title and experiences – and he had been doing it for years.

Jack had a team that loved him (which was demonstrated at the vigil and funeral.) Jack was my best possible source of information and advice on how to survive Corporate America as a newly-minted manager – especially since all of the managers who worked with me were busy rearranging deck chairs during our latest reorganization.

I let that opportunity just pass me by. It just never occurred to me to ask Jack to go have a cup of coffee (or three) and have him explain how the world of management works.

I am really disappointed in myself for that.

So, now I can just hope Jack will watch me and guide me from above. I think a manager’s greatest accomplishment is to be genuinely missed by his team. Death is the most sudden way to leave the corporation, but I think every manager should aspire to having his team think, “What are we going to do now?” and not just “Who do we get stuck with next?” whenever he moves on to the next challenge, either here or in the next world.

Jack’s team is wondering what they are going to do now.

I’m wondering what I’m going to do now.

I miss you, Jack. Thanks for all the times you were there. The times you weren’t are on me.

Peace & Quiet

I’m beginning to think you can determine someone’s age by what noise level they consider “loud.” While I’m not out on my front porch, yelling at the neighbors’ kids to “turn that crap down” – yet – I have noticed that my world is pretty noisy, and I would like that changed. Now, I love concerts and live performance, and I can usually tolerate the performance art that is a good meeting at work, but there doesn’t seem to be a quiet place to escape any more.

It started with restaurants – now, we have been dining with my Mom and her hearing aids (or lack thereof some evenings) for a while, so maybe that’s when I started getting sensitized to it. Restaurants are loud. Many have live music every night of the week, which I’ve addressed before. Well, actually, I ranted about it before. Still, even places without music can be very noisy, and yes, I know many are actually designed that way so you get a sense of energy. However, if you’re trying to talk to someone who is hard of hearing, it makes conversation difficult, if not impossible. Of course, as a side benefit, you can be rude about them, and they will never know. Not that I would. Just sayin’.

So, we spend many nights going down the list of restaurants before we call Mom, so we can find a relatively quiet one. The reality is that there are none around us, even at Mom’s rather more extravagant price point. Even the pricey places tend to be crowded (probably full of people looking for quiet) and so, they are pretty noisy.

When we were on our Christmas cruise, I realized there is no such thing as a quiet bar on a ship. This was a revelation to me, I’m not sure why – I had just never noticed it before. Every bar has some sort of entertainment – a piano player, sing-alongs, games, something. It’s interesting to me that on a ship with eleven bars (and the larger ships have many more), there is not one bar that is a real traditional Irish (or British, in a pinch) pub – with small tables, quiet conversations, a decent pint. No loud music, no dueling pianos, no bingo. Maybe it’s just me. There really is no place other than your balcony to just sit quietly and reflect on how everything is going to be so much better when you return from vacation. Maybe the noise is designed to keep you from having those thoughts – since you are going to be disappointed when you return.

Sometimes, I do think it’s the crowd. I know on the ship, if you have a musician who will interact with the crowd, they are going to interact back. Much like a puppy barking until you pick him up, people are going to babble until he plays their request – even though they probably didn’t hear him play it the first time, because they were babbling. If I were as funny as some of those people think they are (after a couple of drinks), you would enjoy reading this blog a lot more.

The crowd also tends to make the music louder because they are trying to talk over the music. Perhaps, I’m not the only one looking for a place to have a conversation. However, then it’s an arms race – some talking over the music, then others talking over the people shushing you for talking over the music, and then the music itself. Just remember – the musician has a piano and a microphone. Either is a nuclear option in a noise race, and he’s trained to use both together. You’re not going to win. Go talk somewhere else.

Don’t get me wrong. I like music. I prefer music to hearing other people talking, unless it’s an interesting subject like divorce or bad relationships. I like most entertainment. I even like dining with my family, most of the time. I just would like a chance now and then to just have a drink and dinner with a quiet conversation. I’m still looking for the right place.

That must mean I’m getting old.

Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure there wasn’t any music in the restaurant in the retirement community that we visited with Mom. There may be a lesson there, somewhere.

Holidaze

The end of another year. Christmas. Hanukkah. Year-end close at the office. Budget deadlines for next year at the office. Family in town. Leaving for vacation.

Stress.

Wow. There is approximately 43% more crap going on right now that I can process.

I was promoted to manager this year. This is the major reason I haven’t posted in a while – I’ve been too busy trying to identify and put out fires. I got promoted just in time for all the budgeting and arguing for next year. What fun it is! I don’t understand the numbers yet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to defend them. It’s also the time of year that you get questions which demonstrate nobody is actually reading the contracts they are signing. This scares me. I read them and I correct the typos, because I assume my job is on the line. If that is a bad assumption, that is what is wrong with the company.

The other thing wrong with the company is that everyone expects 24×7 access to everyone else and instantaneous replies to requests, no matter how trivial – even though manager’s training specifically tells you not to do that. So, while on vacation, I’ll still be checking email at cruise line Internet prices. If my Internet bill is higher than my bar tab (again), it’s not a great vacation. It’s an office with sand and rum. At least there’s rum.

It’s funny – when I made the vacation plans, being out for two weeks was going to have very little consequence, since not much was going on in my old department at this time of year. Apparently, now the world will end prematurely if all my emails aren’t answered quickly and completely.

One of my goals before I die is to teach the people above me that not every problem is a severity one problem. This may be an impossible task.

My son is a PhD now. His family all came down for graduation, so the three grandkids are in residence. Every time my wife and I try to corral the two boys – even without watching their baby sister – I have more and more doubt on the sanity of people my age trying to have kids. We’re watching the kids because their parents are tired – and they’re in their twenties. There’s a reason old folks don’t have kids – kids are active and inquisitive and fearless. Sure, it sounds like good exercise, but a heart attack really doesn’t help you lose much weight, unless you count only getting fed what fits down a tube while you’re in the ICU.

At least we now know that nothing in our house or my Mom’s house is actually child-proof. Oops. On the other hand, I’ve virtually given up drinking Diet Dr Pepper at home, because I can’t get into the cabinet where the soda is kept. I guess I’ll have to get one of the grandkids to open it for me before they leave.

It’s sad that I have to stop and think if sending a “Merry Christmas” note to my team is going to offend anyone. It’s Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not. There are enough people who either are Christian or believe in the secular values of Christmas, that companies close for the day. It’s Christmas vacation whether you honor the day or not. It’s still vodka, even if you don’t drink. Call Christmas vacation what it is.

One more meeting to go.

Business Travel

I don’t care what anyone thinks. Business travel sucks. I’m in my third city this week and I’m in the airport, waiting to go to another continent.

Ten years ago, this may have been exciting, but I’m too old and tired to feel that way any more.

I went to Chicago Sunday, back to Dallas on Tuesday, to San Francisco Wednesday, and somebody told me it’s Friday today, so I’m off to Kuala Lumpur.

That’s right. The place CNN won’t shut up about, because a plane is missing from there.

The Spousal Unit is not happy.

CNN is actually on ithe TV in the Admirals’ Club, so you can have a relaxing drink and learn about how a plane can be sabotaged before you get on your plane. Piers Morgan is interviewing someone, so by the time I leave for my gate, at least we’ll know it’s the Tea Party’s fault.

Lovely.

(It’s still better than March Madness.)

I’m flying to Los Angeles, then to Hong Kong, then to Kuala Lumpur. It’s Friday now, I’ll be there Sunday afternoon.

I’m coming home next Friday.

I’m traveling 30 hours or so each way for a two-day class. This does not seem an efficient use of time to me, but I don’t have an MBA. Luckily, since our management has found cutting costs is somewhat easier than making money, I’m flying in coach.

I’m hoping the family with their precious (and cute) family goats are at least a few rows away from me.

The last time I flew to Hong Kong, it was from Europe. So, this is a first. The last time I flew home from Hong Kong is when I crossed a million miles on American.

So, I’m currently waiting in San Francisco (and listening to plane crash theories), so I can fly to LA and wait, so I can fly to Hong Kong, clear customs and wait, and fly to Malaysia.

Then, I can collapse in the hotel.

One partial day of rest (and a couple of meetings), another day of nothing but meetings, two days of workshops (teaching alone, since my co-instructor couldn’t get a visa) and then home. Also known ad another 30 hours in coach and airports.

Funny thing about the workshop: US logic says if the classroom holds 25 people, you stop registrations at 25. Asian logic says when you go over 25, you just find a bigger classroom. So, there were 40 students registered as of yesterday. The largest class I’ve done by myself is probably 20.

How can business travel not be fun?

So, the next person who says, “You’re lucky. I never get to travel!” is getting punched in the head.

Sleep Study

I’m tired this morning. This is probably because I spent last night having my sleep studied. This was my first sleep study in ten years or so, and that was just long enough to forget how non-sleep-inducing a sleep study really is.

A sleep study is a classic case of the observer effect – if you’re measuring something, there’s a high likelihood you will change it. (This is similar to (but not the same as) the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which is a much cooler name.)

First of all, you’re in a strange bed. This is not too challenging for somebody who travels, but it’s still a strange bed in a strange place, without your wife’s Nook glowing quietly next to you and a PBGV pressed to your butt. It’s also dark – no nightlights, no clock (!), and you’re wired to the bed, so you can’t just get up to pee without calling for help.

Then, there are the wires. Ah, the wires. Now, there’s a challenge. You have fourteen probes on your head, two on your chest, four on your legs, a snore microphone on your neck and a pulse oximeter on your finger.  That, my friends, is a rather large collection of wires. They are all connected to a box that has a serial port (haven’t seen one of those in years – don’t they use USB by now?) that is connected to a port on the wall that is connected to a computer somewhere in the facility.

ApniaMan

Then, there’s the timing. I was scheduled to arrive at 7:30pm. My usual bedtime is about midnight – I shoot for 11:30pm or so, but it never happens. So, we’re four and a half hours before my bedtime. By the time I changed into shorts and a t-shirt (I’m too old and too young for pajamas), had my blood pressure checked (it was high – go figure), had a CPAP mask tryout (I still don’t like the nose pillows that stick in your nostrils, just give me a mask) and filled out the pre-sleep questionnaire, it was 8:15pm or so. (I guess. Who knows? There’s no clock in the room.)

The sleep clinic wants everyone in bed by 10:45pm at the latest – but really, they want you in bed much earlier so they have enough time to monitor the quality of your sleep, which will certainly be high, given you’re in a strange room with wires all over you.

After a short break, one of the technicians came to “wire me up.” This is the slow procedure of hooking up the fourteen sensors on the head (positions marked on the scalp with grease pencil after measuring with a tape measure), four taped to my legs (two per leg), two on my chest, plus a snoring microphone on my neck and the pulse oximeter (glowing red) taped closed on my finger.

Then, all of the wires are hooked to the main controller box, and it is looped over your chest with a lanyard. At that point, you’re “mobile.” Hahahahahahahaha! For those of us with glasses, you can’t wear them at this point, so I couldn’t read. I did manage to use the bathroom without calling for help, so that was an accomplishment.

Wired

I had just sat down on the bed to determine my next move when the speaker crackled on, and someone said “Just let us know when you’re ready to go to sleep.”

It’s ten to freakin’ nine. I’m pretty sure my grandchildren don’t go to bed this early.

Still, what else was there to do? I couldn’t get my glasses on, so reading was out. I desperately feared discovering what channels are available on sleep clinic TV. (Although, if they want people to “sleep normally” in a strange bed in a strange room, there might have been pay-per-view. Just sayin’.)

Just after nine (according to the text I sent home), I gave in. It was bedtime.

This was a “split study” (I did not know that until after I arrived), so the first part was to observe me sleeping “naturally” (I’ve had a CPAP for ten years). I can’t sleep without a CPAP. So, “naturally”, was going to be painful.

A CPAP is “continuous positive airway pressure.” Basically, it’s a little machine that blows air through your nose (through a mask) with enough pressure to keep your airway open, so you can actually breathe while you sleep. In my case, my throat would close while I was sleeping, blocking my air. I would choke, wake up briefly, fall asleep, and the cycle would start again. This made me snore (really, I would just breathe through my mouth), which the Spousal Unit noticed was getting worse, which is how my sleep apnia was discovered. That, and I was falling asleep at my desk in the afternoons – even without meetings.

So, if I don’t have a CPAP, I don’t breathe very well during sleep, which means I don’t sleep.

Here’s a challenge – I can’t really sleep without a CPAP, I’m wired for study, I have sensors in my nostrils, I’m in a strange bed and it’s 9pm. Why isn’t this conducive to a good night’s sleep?

I lay still. I turned over (which is stressful and a slow process, since I was worried about pulling a sensor loose.) I turned back.  I tried to figure out why the left leg cable was much shorter than the right (I was lying on it.) I adjusted the pillows and accidentally hit the main controller box.

Main Controller Box

Nobody called, so it must have been alright.

After a long time of no sleep (I thought – we’ll see what the sensors say), I heard the speaker crackle on. Jesus (Hay-sus, not Gee-sus) was coming in. Whew. Time to put on the CPAP.

I asked him what time it was. It was 12:30am. Just over three hours of no sleep. On the bright side, at this point, it’s just after my “real” bedtime.

Off go the sensors, on goes the mask. Ahhh. I really hate things sticking in my nose.

Now, I could sleep. Maybe.

Jesus said, “Could you try sleeping on your back? If you can’t go to sleep after a while, just roll over, but we’d like to try to have you sleep on your back.”

I had been warned about this while getting wired up. Apparently, sleeping on your back is more likely to cause distress in sleep apnia patients. This is why I don’t sleep on my back. However, since this is a study, distress is good. (I was told this morning when I got home that I do in fact sleep on my back. A lot. Who knew?)

So, on my back, off to Dreamland.

Nothing.

After about  a half-hour (which will turn out to be five minutes), I turned on my side and went to sleep.

After about four hours, I woke up – I was having a dream that my family was leaving the house and I was supposed to drive, but my truck was in the shop. (It was the truck I had just after I graduated from college – so I haven’t seen it in over twenty-five years. Whatever.)

I rolled over and heard something snap. Oops. I think I popped a leg sensor off.

Jesus came in to re-attach the sensor. Since he was there, I asked to get unhooked to visit the facilities. He disconnected the main controller box, looped it around my neck, and wandered out.

Peeing around wires attached to your legs when sleep deprived with a heavy controller on your chest is not as easy as it sounds.

I asked what time it was. He said, “It’s about one-thirty.”

Four hours? Not so much.

Flushed with success, and re-wired, I went back to sleep.

The next thing I remember is Jesus on the speaker, telling me the study was concluded. He came in to unwire me and I asked what time it was. He said it was 6:15am.

Ouch.

I changed, did the post-study survey, and headed out. I stopped at Whataburger, since I was pretty sure that someone with goop in his hair, looking disheveled and half-asleep would not cause concern. (I was correct.)

I would go back to bed, but I have meetings this morning. This could be a challenge.

Next week, I find out if I passed.

Flashback

So, I’ve heard a lot of stories about my childhood from my Mom lately. I’ve been thinking about growing up and a lot of the activities of a young man. I even redid the Stagecoach 7 website yesterday evening.

But, I never thought I would flash back to the early 60’s this afternoon.

I did. I took a nap.

It’s been said that you become a grownup the day you start wondering why you didn’t want to take naps when you were younger. Sometimes, it’s just circumstance.

Last night, Murphy the Cocker Spaniel threw up. Four times. So, off to the vet. Luckily, Hillside Veterinary Clinic is open 24×7, and it’s just down the street, so we didn’t have to contend with the emergency clinic. There were a surprising number of people there for 10:30 PM on a Monday evening, but Murphy was whisked off to the back for tests, we talked to the vet, got him some meds, and were back home by just after midnight.

Midnight.

Well, at least I’m working at home today, so I don’t have to contend with traffic.

Did I mention I had a six-hour web conference call that started at 7:30 AM this morning?

So, I was going to double up on the coffee, and hope for the best. Maybe this would be an interesting meeting. You know, the exception to prove the rule.

Finally got to sleep about a quarter to one, because it takes extra time to fall asleep when you’re counting the minutes you have to actually sleep. So, I should have had a good six hours of sleep. Who needs more than that? No problems.

Four AM, the phone rings. I manage to answer it, and hear “This is ADT Security. We have an alarm.” Well, my house was quiet, so it was the Spousal Unit’s problem. We had an alarm going off in one of her late Aunt’s houses in Florida.

This is one of the stupid parts about naming an executor more than one State away – how are you going to get there if there’s a crisis?

Who could possibly be trying to get into a dead woman’s house? Oh, of course. The inheritor aka the new owner. Oops.

The Spousal Unit had given her cousin the code to the alarm. It just wasn’t the code to that alarm. Oops.

So, after finally getting him on the phone (via Facebook message) and talking politely to the police officer who had arrived, everything was back to normal.

At 5:20 AM.

So, not a lot of sleep.

It actually was a good conference call – a very good discussion. I managed to stay awake the whole time, and I only had three cups of coffee.

After the call ended, I crashed for an hour. Well, an hour and a half. The stuffed animals of my childhood were replaced by live dogs trying to push me out of the way, but it was still a nap. A glorious nap.

So, I’ll work late tonight to cover the missed time. At least, I’ll stay online until everyone on my team leaves.

We should all take naps.