Stumbling up the steps to my doctor’s office, I catch a reflection of myself in the door. My stomach lurches as I notice the face staring back at me. Leaning in, I touch the dark circles under my eyes.
After ascertaining that I am alive by taking my vital signs, the nurse chirps in this annoying high-pitched voice, “What brings you here today?”
I bite my lip to prevent my sarcastic tongue from responding, “My car.” Instead I say, “I feel yucky.” I ignore her attempts to get me to clarify what yucky means. Giving up, she shoves my chart into the slot and slams the door.
After what feels like forever, my doctor strides in. “So you feel yucky?” I nod my head.
As he pokes and prods me, he grills me with questions. Then he presents me with a book. “It’s a sleep journal.”
Once again, I bite my tongue. Maybe he thinks I can’t read the bold letters across the cover.
“You need to jot down when you fall asleep, your dreams, anything you think is important. Hopefully, between the journal and an extensive sleep study we can figure out why you feel miserable.” He rushes out, leaving me feeling unheard.
One week later, I go to the sleep clinic where they glue electrodes to my head, making me look like Medusa. Then they shove something up my nose, and put belts around my waist, and stick electrodes on my chest and legs. Do they seriously expect me to sleep?
Later, as I skim over my journal, it becomes clear to me the reason behind my fatigue.
Day One: I drifted off around 10 PM. I woke up at 1 AM and found a bowl of cereal and milk in my bed.
Man, was that milk cold as it spilled across my chest. At least I know the refrigerator works.
Day Two: I had a nightmare.
I shudder as I remember my daughter yelling, “Mom, is someone really trying to kill you or are you dreaming again?” When I told her I had been dreaming, she said, “Good, shut up and go back to sleep.” Kids, gotta love 'em.
Day Three: I dreamed that my kids were drowning. I woke up in the middle of the swimming pool.
The pool episode freaked out my husband. He insisted on sleeping in the living room where he could see both doors.
Day Four: I woke up on the floor as my husband yanked the car keys from me.
He said I was trying to go to the store to buy rabbit food. We don’t even own a rabbit.
Day Five: My husband heard me snoring and then gasping for breath. He jostled my shoulder to wake me and I punched him in the face.
He had a black eye and wouldn't go to work. He didn't seem too sympathetic about my swollen hand.
Day Six: Lizzie had the flu and crawled in bed with me. I did finally fall asleep, but woke up to check on her. I didn't fall back asleep.
Man, I better not tell the doctor what happened next or he'll really think I'm crazy. I saw her spirit leaving her body so I pushed it back in. Personally, I think I saved her life, but she wasn't convinced.
Day 7: Actually I slept really well last night. I think I was asleep by 11:30 and don’t remember waking at all.
That is until I checked my text messages. I guess I was texting in my sleep. It’s a lot of gobbledygook, and then I told Amy that I miss my uterus. Good grief, I must have been sleeping, that’s one thing I definitely don’t miss. She and her family had a good giggle. I'm glad I could be entertaining.
At my doctor's appointment, I hand my journal over. It certainly appears like he is covering his mouth to stifle a giggle. Then he looks at me, as he raises his eyebrows. “Well, the sleep study shows you suffer from severe sleep apnea. That means you stop breathing and your oxygen levels drop dangerously low. We’ll get you hooked up with a machine that will force air into your lungs if you stop breathing while you’re sleeping. This should make a huge difference in your health.”
As I leave the office, I notice a burden lifting off my chest. There is something medically wrong with me; I’m not crazy after all—well, not too crazy.
Author's note:> Based on a true story
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