Hypnos: Epilogue

Hypnos - In Greek Mythology, the personification of sleep (By user:shakko (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
Hypnos – In Greek Mythology, the personification of sleep
(By user:shakko (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Last night was sleep study number two. If you’re just tuning in, you can read about night one and the morning after here and here, respectively. The point of last night’s study was to test my breathing on the CPAP machine. For you laymen out there, CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Essentially, when the wearer inhales, the CPAP machine assists by forcing an amount of pressure and air into the airway, thereby preventing apnea-or more specifically in my case Obstructive Sleep Apnea. When a patient experiences OSA, his/her airway collapses, preventing oxygen from traveling to its natural habitat inside the human body, the lungs-and ultimately the blood and other organs. Hypoxemia (lack of oxygen) can effect the human body in numerous ways, including but not limited to sleep deprivation, fatigue, weight gain, seizures, heart disease, organ failure, and death. To name a few.

I went to the hospital last night expecting the same as before, electrodes and wires and sticky things stuck all over and around my body. I was fitted with these contrivances by an all too giddy therapist, taking a shot in the dark here by assuming she’s with respiratory. While attaching all these wires and whatnot, she explained the benefits and importance of using a CPAP machine when one has OSA. She described the mask to me, how it works (of this I was already vaguely familiar as my son Robot Boy is ventilator dependent). The CPAP machine I’ll use is much smaller and less complex than his vent, and I will only require it during sleep. RB is on CPAP mode during the day, but he is on the rate at night, meaning the ventilator is giving him breaths instead of simply giving him a small amount of pressure support.

After being fitted with all these niceties (used with extreme sarcasm) and taking my sleepy time medicine, I lay on my back -per the instructions of the overly giddy Paula Dean-esque therapist. It wasn’t long before I fell asleep. First there were some exercises to perform. “Turn your eyes to the left and the right,” Paula Dean said over a monitor. “Leave your eyes open for thirty seconds.” This is more difficult than it seems. “Open your mouth for ten seconds.” Breathing (and talking) while wearing the CPAP mask with the machine on is quite strenuous. Imagine having extra air pushed into your lungs while you inhale to say, ” Yes”, “That’s comfortable enough”, and “I have to go to the bathroom.” That is what’s happening.

I know I was in REM sleep for a while before I started to drown. I was underwater, a whale-shark with its gaping maw inhaling seawater instead of oxygen. My mouth was open, and I was gasping for air, but with the CPAP machine administering positive pressure, breathing through my mouth became arduous. I was suffocating. My brain told me to remove the pulse/ox on my finger to call the therapist. I did, or rather dreamed I did. Twice. Before finally waking up, chugging air down my partially collapsed airway against the positive pressure that was, at the time, less of a help and more of a hindrance.

I tore the pulse/ox from my left index finger as the therapist was coming in the door. She explained she should increase the pressure. I agreed. The thought of having more air in my lungs was splendid. Paula Dean adjusted the machine, and I lay back down, trying to recover and relax. As a lifelong insomniac, it’s not a simple task for me to wake and fall back to sleep on a dime. So for about an hour I lay there with my eyes closed trying to sleep and trying not to concentrate on the air being forced up my nose.

My back was hurting. I turned my legs to the left with my torso straight. Paula Dean came back in. “What’s the matter, darling? You’ve been awake a while.” “My back hurts.” “I thought it was your back. Do you want to lay on your side?” I said yes, and turned onto my left side with my legs pulled up. I had to pee, but I didn’t want to with all those attachments. Hoping I could ignore the need, and everything else involved, I closed my eyes hoping for more sleep.

The new position meant the mask shifted, and I had a strange farting noise resonating off my cheek and into my right ear. I adjusted my face, and the farting stopped, but it was followed by a leak of cold air that, when blowing across my face, aggravated an old cheek bone injury I’d incurred several years ago when I fell flat on my face, knocking myself unconscious. This went on for another length of time before I decided to try to adjust the mask. I did finally and closed my eyes trying to sleep again.

The sound of the machine, with its pressure forcing air into the mask, sounded like ambient ocean background noise. I imagined waves coming onto the beach and sweeping back out again. I imagined torrents crashing into high rock walls. Nothing made a difference. After however long, Paula Dean came back into the room and asked what was going on again. I admitted I had to pee. She obliged, but all the wires had to come with. After taking one of the most careful pees of my life, I returned to bed. I decided to lie on my back, assuming the corpse pose.

Corpse Pose via Yoga Journal (http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/482)
Corpse Pose via Yoga Journal (http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/482)

It worked. After just a few minutes, I fell back to sleep. I dreamed odd and vibrant dreams for about three hours before Paula Dean came in to wake me. “I let you sleep an hour later than usual since you were finally sleeping so good.” I stayed in a deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep for over an hour. “That’s a really long time!” exclaimed Paula Dean.

After brushing my teeth, using the bathroom yet again, and  filling out some paperwork, I was escorted outside to the parking lot. I said goodbye to Paula Dean and went to my car. I rolled down the windows and turned on the windshield wipers to remove the overnight condensation. I plugged my cell phone into the charger and checked Facebook (priorities!), and then I turned on the radio. Low Rider was playing. I raised the volume to an unacceptable decibal level, put on my eye patch, and drove home.

Low Rider written by Charles Miller and the band War and appearing on their 1975 album Why Can’t We Be Friends? (Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_Rider)

 

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Pressure

I get about one day a week off from my nearly 24/7 duties at Children’s Hospital. (If you’re just joining us, you can read about all that here.) This day is Friday, when my mom comes to stay with Robot Boy so I can go home, have a real dinner with my husband, decompress, and sleep. My mom works most Fridays, and she is wonderful enough to come after work and sleep at the hospital. Well, I shouldn’t really say “sleep at the hospital” because anyone whose ever been in a hospital or stayed with a loved one in a hospital knows you don’t sleep. Not more than an hour or so at a time, anyway.

It’s suffice to say these evenings I get away from the hospital are sacrosanct. I do my best to get home in enough time to go out to dinner with my husband and at least spend some time with him before he has to go to bed, as he works Saturdays usually. My home is approximately an hour and a half from the hospital, depending on traffic. The drive is hardly bothersome under normal conditions. For the last five years, I’ve had an hour commute to and from work-sometimes before and after working 12+ hours. I don’t mind driving, as long as the traffic is moving and there aren’t very many fucking assholes inconsiderate drivers on the road. I turn up the radio and exercise my vocal chords.

I sound nothing like Gonzo while singing this medley.

As I’ve said, under normal circumstances, I don’t mind the drive. However today, today my decisions led to me into very unusual driving conditions for my Friday night of freedom. My mom didn’t work this Friday, and she was at the hospital earlier than usual. Instead of leaving the hospital shortly after she arrived, I chose to stay and visit a while. I also have a terrible time tearing myself away from RB. Especially on nights like tonight, when he was watching me pack my bag, knowing that I was leaving. Not that he doesn’t love his grandma. He is very excited when she visits, but Mom is the safety net. Mom is there to make sure nothing goes awry. And also Mom knows-or thinks she knows-exactly what he wants most of the time.

I don’t regret my decision to stay, but I was less than pleased to be stuck in the horrendous traffic which accumulated at the precise moment I left the hospital’s parking lot. I made the unwise decision to leave at exactly 5p.m. on a Friday night. Oh and also on the night of a Hornets game. I sat on the same street for no less than 30 minutes. Someone in a black Yukon that’s license number I did not memorize for use in future voodoo ceremonies nearly caused an accident by purposely skirting around me while I was clearing changing lanes to avoid an 18-wheeler. I hardly berated the driver before he/she sped away.

Photo c/o Microsoft Office Free Clipart

I finally made it to the interstate, only to discover the traffic was almost as bad. With my bladder’s fluid gauge on full, I approached the High Rise, which any native knows is another traffic nightmare. At any rate, I finally got through the city and crossed Lake Pontchartrain en route to my home.

I exited as soon as possible and hit a gas station to fill up and utilize their surprisingly clean restrooms. I bought an enormous coffee (and a six-pack) and returned to the road. Instead of heading back to the interstate, I remained on the highway, which proved to be an unfortunate decision since everyone else in the state also decided to do the same thing on the same road. I was stuck in more traffic. But, with an empty bladder, a serious caffeine high, and good music, my two and a half hours in snarling traffic already seemed much less unpleasant, and at the exact moment I was contemplating driving through servitudes and on private property, the Muses graced me with a rather fitting song on the radio. . .

This song describes my entire life right now.”Pressure pushing down on me/Pressing down on you/No man asked for/Under pressure /That burns a building down/Splits a family in two/Puts people on streets.”

I, of course, recognized the fortuity. As I began to sing (both David Bowie and Freddie Mercury’s parts in perfect pitch, I might add), my foul mood was interrupted by tolerance and stoicism. What importance really, in the grande scheme of things (if there is one) holds traffic? I felt most uplifted: “Pray tomorrow gets me higher, high, high!”

Perhaps it was the music, or my utter madness, or the realization that there is no use being upset when you can grin and enjoy a major caffeine rush, or perhaps it was all these things, but I was wearing a smile and feeling so much better. “Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word/And love dares you to care for/The people on the edge of the Night/And love dares you to change our way of/Caring about ourselves.”

When the song ended, I felt like I needed a decent follow-up. You can’t just come down off a high like that. With my iPod on shuffle, I skipped the next two songs until I found a great song to accompany the first.

This is the cutest video ever.

“That time will come/One day you’ll see/When we can all be  friends.”

This interestingly unrelated piece of free clipart c/o none other than Microsoft Office

Under Pressure was written and performed by Queen & David Bowie and appeared on Queen’s 1982 album Hot Space.

The Miracle was written and performed by Queen and appeared on their 1989 album of the same name. The four boys from the video are Paul Howard as Brian May, James Currie as John Deacon, Adam Gladdish as Roger Taylor, and Ross McCall as Freddie Mercury.

Bohemian Rhapsody was written by Freddie Mercury and performed by Queen. It appeared on their 1975 album A Night at the Opera (titled after the Marx Brothers’ movie of the same name).

The Muppets were created by Jim Henson and currently belong to The Walt Disney Company.