Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sleep Study

I have posted a few times about how I wake up a lot at night, which makes me sleepy during the day.  Some days, it is all I can do to get in the door and collapse in my bed when I get home.  I feel like I am missing out on my life, because literally, all I do is work and sleep.

I tried a sleep study to determine what the trouble was.  This was before I was blogging, so I will relate this story here:

I arrived at the appointed location at the appointed time, 9 PM, with pillow in hand.  The website indicated the experience would be similar to a hotel, and I  would be able to watch TV or read until I drifted off, so I had also brought a book.  Several other people lined the hallway with their pillows.

The place was locked.

We waited in the hall, not speaking much, until a technician finally arrived, out of breath and with keys jingling as he ran.  He let us into a waiting room, which, indeed, had a TV.  He went to the reception area and fumbled through papers while we nervously chose seats.  No one turned on the TV.

The technician called a name, and the very large woman across from me spoke up.  He asked her, across the rooms, why she was there.  She looked around and then reluctantly announced that she was there to check for sleep apnea.  (By the way, this is why all the people, except me, were there.  And luckily, I was the last patient to be called, so I did not have to tell everyone and his brother my reason for seeing a doctor.)  I still refused to talk across the room like that and just got up to talk to the guy.  I was there for the night, but also into the day, to check for narcolepsy.  Apparently, his shift would end at 7am, and the lab would be closed again until 9am.  So there was an issue.  Great.

I was the last one called but the first one to be prepped.  They attached about 20 little doo-dads that would monitor my heart rate, breathing rate, brain waves, and a number of other things.  He asked how I normally like to sleep.  I told him I usually fall asleep on my side in a fetal position.

"Well, not tonight, you're not," he said.  "We need patients to sleep on their backs, and not move too much."

He then told me I was all set and I should just call out if I needed anything, because they have an intercom system and a camera in the room.  I asked if I could read my book (no TV in the room), and he said I could for a short bit while he prepped another patient.  Not exactly the "hotel" atmosphere advertised.

I carefully laid on the cheapo mattress with the scratchy sheets and thin quilt which was provided.  I began reading my book, a novel by Stephen King.  The technician left and began talking to the gentleman next door.  He was thin, but a heavy smoker, and, of course, was there to check for sleep apnea.  I heard every word they were saying through the thin walls.

The man next door was complete, and there was relative silence.  Another technician had arrived and prepped the other two people. I was still nervous, trying not to move, and reading my book because I was not sleepy.  Suddenly, the room filled with the booming voice of the technician who asked me to stop reading and turn out the lights.

Obediently, I clicked the light and tried to sleep.  Outside the room, I heard the technicians arguing about who would stay with me until the day shift got in.  They both had obligations after work, and so they called a supervisor.  Apparently, one of them would need to re-arrange a schedule, because they continued to argue.  My pinky finger, which had a sensor clipped to the end like a clothespin, was beginning to throb.  I was afraid to move, and I did not like the idea of calling out to the empty room.  I listened to the sounds of snoring, coming from the room next door.  Faintly, I could hear snores down the hall as well.

I laid in  silence, trying to sleep.  My pinky hurt.  I couldn't move.  The snoring was louder.  My pinky hurt.  Sleep! I tried to will myself.  I wondered what time it was.  My pinky hurt.  The technician was getting a soda from the machine.  I couldn't move.

At one point, boomy voice popped into the room, asking if I needed something.  I told him about the pinky, and he came in to adjust the sensor, scolding me for not speaking up.  He closed the door and I listened to the snoring some more.  Sleep!  (but don't move.) Sleep, goddammmit!  (but stay on your back.)  I wondered again how much time was left.

Eventually, I did fall asleep for about 2 hours.  The technician came in at 5am to "wake" me, and remove the sensors.  He said that since I couldn't sleep, there was no way I had narcolepsy, so I could go home. 

"Now?"  I said.  "I wasn't supposed to be picked up until noon.  I didn't bring my car because I am too cheap to pay for parking for that long."  

"Well, we don't need to see you for the day study."

Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, and a very sleepy: "Hello?"

"Hi, honey!"  I cheerily said.  "Can you come pick me up?"

I got home and collapsed into bed, even though I had goo in my hair from some of the doo-dads.  I was exhausted after my sleep study, which came back inconclusive due to lack of sleep.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


It's that time of year when yard work is actually enjoyable.  The weather is just perfect - perfect temperature, perfect humidity.  And the ground is both wet enough and dry enough to be workable.  Adam and I planned to head out and enjoy working the land for an hour or two the other day.

Adam opened the door to the front, which leads to a pleasant little walkway from the drive.  There, on the concrete, was "Nature".  And not the early scene that sets the mood.  No.  Not the one that focuses in on a zebra running and then pans out to show the high-grassed meadow and the spectacular sunset, and all the other beautiful zebras racing in the wind.

This was the close up shot of the lioness, pouncing on one of the smaller zebras and pulling the poor creature to the ground.

In this case it was a small garter snake with its jaws wide open, trying to devour a toad.  It was quite a site.  The snake was small, and its head even smaller.  I think the toad had warts bigger than that snake's head.  The whole scene reminded me of the Flinstones opening credits when Fred orders a dinosaur rib that tips over his stone-wheeled car.  For the toad's part, it seemed to be doing very little to resist being eaten.  Occasionally, it would hop, with its new snake attachment just clinging onto its rump.  There was no flailing of limbs or slaps to the snake's head.  Just a hop.  On one hand, we figured, nature should take its course.  If this toad was meant to be eaten today, then so be it.  On the other hand, it was so sad to see this guy get devoured alive.

Before making a definitive decision, of course, I decided to document the event.  I took my turn at nature photography and found that apparently one needs to be more discreet.  The snake took one look at the large human pointing a black box in its face, and it slithered away.  Somewhere in its little brain, it decided eating animals three times its size was good, but that it should run from animals 100 times its size.  I wondered where the cutoff would be.

After the snake slithered away, we went online to determine the type.  We wanted to check that the thing wouldn't strike out at our ankles if we proceeded to the yard.  After determining that it was harmless, we went to examine the toad, which was sitting in the same position, breathing heavily, and bleeding.

Unfortunately, when we opened the door, the cat took her opportunity to rush outside.  She looked at Mr. Toad, and suddenly he got a burst of energy and began hopping away.  The cat was nearly on top of him before Adam rescued the poor thing.  I am willing to let a snake eat a meal to stay alive, but believe me, our cat does not need food.  She would probably have tortured the thing, pulling off limbs and whatnot, then let him to die on our walkway.

We took the cat inside, and there was no further sign of Toad or Snake.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Letter

To the Inventor of Skinny Jeans:

I hate you.


-me (and, presumably, this poor girl.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Graine

I know lots of people who suffer from migraines.  Me?  I hardly ever get headaches.  Though I certainly try to sympathize with my friends, I could only imagine what a very bad headache feels like.

And then Wednesday happened.  And kept happening.  In fact, I am not sure when it will end.

I woke up thinking I had clenched my jaw all night, because I had tooth pain.
But this was all right.  It would just take time to recover.

About 1:30 in the afternoon, a co-worker asked if I had any aspirin, and as I handed him some, I decided to take some myself.  The tooth pain was worsening, and I had developed a dull ache above my right eye.
But this was all right.  The aspirin would do the trick.

Five o'clock rolled around, and I decided to go to the gym, because that might clear up the sinus blockage or whatever it was.  The aspirin didn't seem to do a damn thing, and it was getting a little worse.  Also, I began to wonder if there could be a cavity or even an abscess in my lower right wisdom tooth.  That would be inconvenient.  In the past, going to the gym has either made my headaches go away, or had no effect.  I figured it couldn't hurt.

The class at the gym was hard - the power was out all last week due to Hurricane Irene, and all the instructors seemed to assume we all sat on our asses for a week.  (Personally, I preferred a completely prone position, complete with fuzzy blanket and teevee.)

I left the gym, felt a bit dizzy.  Though the headache was not really a bother during my workout, it had come back. It was about then that I felt like puking.  So badly, in fact, that I took the top off my water bottle, because, to paraphrase the infinite wisdom of "Waynes World", Dude, if you're gonna spew, you should have something ready to spew into.  The drive home was not good.

As I exited my car, I was hit with smells of the world on a muggy, rainy day.  The grass smelled, the air smelled, the garbage can smelled, my body smelled, and my car smelled.  I was so sick that ordinarily, I'd have forgotten the throb of my head, but the pain was still there, a piercing myriad of dull pain throughout the  right side of my face.  I made it inside and turned on a light.  Agggh.  I had thought the pain couldn't get worse, but I was wrong.  I fumbled through the dark house to the bathroom and pretty much laid there until Adam came home, pausing occasionally for unpleasantness.

I told him my theory of the abscessed tooth, and various other far-fetched reasons for my unfortunate predicament.  He forced me to take an advil and told me it sounded like a migraine.  He dutifully searched the internet and told me the worst thing I could have done when feeling a migraine setting in was go to the gym.  As far as triggers, we couldn't think of anything specific, but I had changed my eating habits due to a new diet.

So there you have it folks:  eating healthy and working out in moderation are bad for me.  I guess I should go back to my beer-slugging pasta fests on the couch.

Also, I apologize to everyone whom I looked down upon, even just a little bit, for missing work or other functions because of a migraine.  I had no idea it was more than just a bad headache.  Really and truly, this was an all over body ache, focused on the head, but also affecting the stomach, intestines, jaw, upper back and neck, ear, and throat (so far).

Monday, September 5, 2011

Oops, I Think I Borscht'd

Let's talk a second about one of the banes of my existence: beets.

According to Sara, owner of my CSA (Community Supported Ag) group, "You either love 'em or you hate 'em."

As a kid, we weren't subjected to beets much, so I was more in the "Ain't Never Tried 'Em" group.  I got them a few times last year in the share, and they went to waste the first time.  As a general rule, I did what I could with my veggies, but I tended to focus first on the ones I was familiar with, second on the ones that smelled and looked good, despite being new to me, and third on the new ones that looked unappealing.  Often, by the time I was ready to focus on that third group, a whole new set of veggies had arrived.  Beets, as you can see, look like dirty turds and smell slightly better.

Toward the end of the year, I had rustled up a way to introduce myself to beets without making them the star of the show.  I found a recipe for a bundt cake that used beets and orange peels to make a "beautifully pink-fleshed cake."  I had forgotten, however, that I am not a very good baker.

The reason for this is my willingness to substitute whatever is on hand for whatever I am lacking.  I don't recall exactly what I subbed in, but said pinch hitter was not good.  Cake #1 went largely to the compost pile out back.

You are right, Constant Reader.  One cannot have Cake #1 without Cake #2.  This one was prepared for a tailgate and placed next to various more traditional goodies, such as brownies.  I do not blame people for their choices.  Even I chose the brownies.

Cake #2 did make it back, mostly in tact.  But I was so reminiscent of the ickiness of Cake #1, that it eventually joined its predecessor in the compost heap.

This year, I have wasted exactly 4 pounds of beets.  And I decided it needs to stop.  I ain't down wit' wasting food - or beets.  (Anymore.)  Besides, I had an absolutely delicious felafel wrap at a local fair, which included beets.  They couldn't be all bad.

As a test run, I tried the "Beet and Orange Salad" at Wegman's (a grocery chain similar to Whole Foods or Harris Teeter).  It was awful.  Possibly rancid.  I tasted rancid bruschetta once. The tomatoes had begun to ferment and it was almost soda like with bubbles.  This beet salad was just like that.  Only, Wegman's is known for their fresh food, and especially their salad bars.  So was it really rancid, or is this how it is supposed to taste?  I couldn't decide if I should complain, so I focused in on my slice of Ultimate White Cake which is pretty much like very fattening heroin. good.  (By the way, I have not actually tried heroin, but I have seen Trainspotting.  Same thing.)  Anyway, another pound of beets showed up in my share after that - they are definitely producing better this year - and I just tossed the soft, wrinkly little guys into the compost pile, untouched.

It was a few weeks later (last Friday, actually) that I tried a Moroccan Salad at California Pizza Kitchen, which included, among many other tasty things, beets.

And it was delicious!  The beets really didn't make the salad bad at all.  I would not go so far as to say I would have missed them if they were forgotten, but... I decided on a whim to toss a few, small, finely chopped pieces into the soup I was making for my lunches this week.  Turns out, beets are kind of like the bullies of the bunch.  (Maybe that's where the get their name?)  Like a banana or cantaloupe in a fruit salad, everything in my blood red soup tastes like a dang beet.  It hardly seems like a soup at all.  It's a borscht.  Sure enough, you really don't use many beets in a borscht.  A small gang is all that is needed to take over the neighborhood.

Oh well.  My soup isn't all that bad.  And I used a beet on a salad for lunch today.  They almost taste good when paired with carrots.  I'd say I neither love them nor hate them.  But slowly, I am learning not to waste them.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

We Are!

I was at Wal-Mart the other day, searching for superglue, when I found duct tape with the University of Maryland logo on it.  It was about a quarter of the size of the standard silver-gray rolls and four times the price.
  Thought #1:  That's freakin' retarded, who would buy such a thing?
Thought #2: I wonder if they have Penn State?
Yes, folks, it's football season.
Let the tailgates begin.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Spotlight on Super Glue

I have just been to Wal-Mart, attempting to undo the damage from Hurricane Irene, or rather, from the preparation for damage from Hurricane Irene.  We were out of super-glue.

I spent $78.00.

Dang super glue.  I wasn't sure which aisle it would be in and I ended up traversing the whole freaking store.  I found it, along with $75 worth of other stuff, then saw it hanging right next to the checkout line.

Naturally, I now have super glue in place of skin on most of my fingers.  I can only hope it will come off before I travel to Houston on 9-11.  I am a bit concerned about the trip because I will need to bring my "engineers bag" again.  The last time I took it, I ended up with 15 razor blades in my carry-on.  I imagine that another slip up, coupled with the questions about why I have replaced my fingerprints with a wrinkly mass of well adhered plastic will make me miss my plane.

But I digress.

I wanted to update y'all on The Glasses Incident, because, frankly, I'm a genius (with superglue on my fingers).  I went outside to search, one more time, before Adam mowed the yard.

In the dark!

You heard me.

I took a flashlight out there, and every little dewy blade of grass glistened in the spotlight.  I swept back and forth for a while, and had just about given up when, there they were, plain as day.  They were exactly where I thought they would be - where I had blindly swept my hands, then scanned, then raked.  I call it "Step Six:  The Spotlight."

Based on my theory, prison inmates should attempt to escape in the daytime to avoid detection.

I will remember this when I go through airport security.