The following story was written by Beatrice Wyllie and shared as part of the Memory Project.
For the past year or so, I have been retreating. It really became very bad when I, who used to go out almost every day of the week, didn’t feel like going anywhere–not to the movies, not to the theater, not even to have lunch someplace nice with my friends. I am very fortunate that my friends did not give up calling and helping me when I needed their help. I was aware that I was depressed since my beloved dog Shakespeare died, but there was something else underlying my “je ne sais quoi”–or “I don’t give a damn”–attitude.
Finally, I went to one of the many doctors that I have acquired over the past few years. As your years progress to the high digits, your body demands specialists, one for the bones (arthritis), one for the eyes (glaucoma), etc. You who are of a certain age will understand this.
My main complaint when I saw Dr. Daniels, my primary physician, was my diabetes, and since many other disease happens because diabetes. I told him that I felt about being tired of being tired and used one of my favorite phrases involving the quality of life at the time being “below 0.” He listened and suggested a sleep test. Now that was a novel experience. For those that have never had it, I will attempt to describe it to you.
At 5 p.m. on the day of the test, I packed my bag for an overnight trip. I arrived at the office/overnight hotel and was taken to a lovely room, color coordinated, with a TV and a machine that makes different noises that will help to put you to sleep–I am sorry that I didn’t try the latter—and, of course, a private bathroom with a shower. My technician’s name was Beth, and she was a very pleasant person with the patience of a saint. When I was ready to go to sleep, Beth started to attach some twenty-seven leads to my body in different places: my face, my head, my legs, and then to a machine on the night table. Also, Big Brother watched me even in the dark through a little thingy on the ceiling.
Every time I had to go to the bathroom, I would call Beth, and she would unhook me from the contraption on the night table. Eventually, I fell asleep, much to my amazement. I did not sleep the entire night, but I slept long enough for a decision to be made about my sleep habits.
The entire experience was not bad, and, because of it, great results followed. It seems that, in addition to my other maladies, I have sleep apnea; in other words, I stop breathing in my sleep, and it makes me extremely tired the next day. The prescription is a breathing machine that I use at night. I must resemble an elephant when I go to sleep after I put this contraption on my head with two valves that enters my nostrils and with a hose attached to the four-pound machine. Whenever I stop breathing, it supplies the air that I need to keep me sleeping, and I feel human the next day. I am now happy to say that I feel alive, not as groggy as I used to feel.
Since I sleep with this marvelous machine, I decided to give it a name. Morpheus (the ancient Greek god of dreams) and I have been to Chicago, and in September we are going to New Mexico. I hope that our relationship will last a long and happy time, or until the quality of life is no longer what I want. I am now in love with Morpheus because of the way he/it makes me feel.
[August 2, 2011; rev. Oct. 12, 2011]