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"I knew nothing, and I persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past."

— Stanislaw Lem, Solaris

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Thursday, January 20th, 2005

Update coming tonight, with pictures...

One Update, With Pictures...

I've mentioned before that I have trouble sticking to a good sleep schedule, among other things. I also snore badly, and I've had two girlfriends tell me that I tend to stop breathing periodically during the night. These are all indications of sleep apnea, a condition where the soft tissues of the sinuses and throat tend to flap shut like trapdoors, halting breathing and causing you to gasp for air (It's this more than the snoring that keeps your partner awake). Strangely enough, you may not be aware that you've almost choked to death numerous times in the night, since the gasp isn't enough to rouse you into full consciousness....
You just go through your day, feeling tired or easily distractable, or falling asleep readily at social functions. So after Laura mentioned it, I decided that after 35 years it was time to act. I therefore made an appointment for a sleep study at the Morristown Sleep Center, a division of Morristown Hospital.

I arrived at the sleep center after work, on one of the coldest nights of season. The pictures above and below show the room, which is much like a hotel room if you ignore the odd bits of surveillance equipment. (The video camera and microphone are not visible here).

This Batman villainesque scene shows me mostly kitted out for the night. The specialist who got me settled in and connected was a smart and funny man named Brian. I had just mentioned one of my standard grim quips about my breathing problems, something along the lines of "If it was really that bad a problem, I wouldn't be here now," implying either that I would have died in my sleep at some point or driven headfirst into a truck hauling gazebos. Not long after I had said this, Brian finished applying the electrodes to my scalp with a vaseline-like goop, and wrapped my head around in gauze as you see to the left, leaving me feeling even more morbid. (Later on, a set of thermocouples were taped under my nose...)
Here's the nightstand with some of the equipment, including a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine which is designed to treat sleep apnea by gently inflating your nasal and sinus passages to keep the tissues from slamming shut like a bear trap. I was not connected to this machine at first, but after Brian discovered how bad my sleeping was (I had sunk to a blood oxygen level of under 70%, I was placed on it for the rest of the night.
Aside from my nervousness (which caused me difficulty at first in getting to sleep at all), things went fairly well. This image shows another view of the bed, with a wire connector block at the head and a copy of Games magazine at the far edge (I was doing the cryptic crosswords while waiting to get drowsy). The belts on the bed are not restraints, but are additional sensors which are not attached to the bed.
I didn't get any cool shots of me almost choking to death, or wearing a respiration mask and breathing into the Darth Vader machine (which actually was very quiet), but here's an image of a porcelain sculpture which I found in a small tiled closet. I have never seen one of this variety and was intrigued by the little horns on the sides (they are not water spouts for a bidet, so I have no idea what they're there for - perhaps to keep people from squatting too long?) The main thing that fascinates and disturbs me is the resemblance between this "Standard" piece of art and Leiske's house...

So now, after years of not sleeping well at night, I have the chance to correct this problem. Expecting that it will have a good affect on Bune and PaaT is premature, but I may perhaps be forgiven a certain quantity of dreaming...


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