Wired for the occasion

“Do you snore?”

“My Sweet Al says I do, but I don’t think I do.”

“Do you quit breathing when you sleep?”

“I don’t know. I’m still here.”

“You need a sleep apnea test.”

Apparently, it’s the thing to do these days. I’m on a health kick. At 75, I decided to get healthy. I went for a checkup. The doctor found hypertension around my heart and recommended a sleep study.

How hard can that be? Just go to sleep in someone else’s bed. My Sweet Al offered to take me to the hospital in Durango. I told him I could drive myself. What would he do, but come home, turn around and pick me up the next morning.

The day came for my scheduled sleep study. In the afternoon, my grandson called. He was coming over. When he arrived, he said, “Grandma, I’ll put on the coffee.”

Sounds good. We talked about everything. The time got away from us and I didn’t realize it until after we had finished a 12-cup pot of coffee.

I took a couple of projects to do and a supply of water. I was determined to stay on my routine and drink five bottles of water for the day.

On the road, I felt a little tired. I purchased a large double black cup of coffee. I bounced down the road and listened to an energetic radio talk show. I made a quick turn onto the road to the hospital. I sped around a circle intersection twice and shot off on some other road. I turned around and hit the intersection again.

I slowed down to read the sign. The person who designed it should be hung up by his toes. Good thing I wasn’t sick and needed emergency care. I would have died in transit. I gathered up speed and overshot the entrance. I took a fast turn into the next empty parking lot.

The hospital door was locked. Didn’t they know I was coming? One of the maintenance crew opened the door and offered to show me through the winding hallway to the admittance desk.

My caffeine high was still working. I asked the nurse, “Does everyone complain about the circle intersection? Why not just a plain four-way stop?”

She nodded her head. “Yes, there are a lot of complaints; that’s why I come early in the morning so I miss the traffic.”

I pulled out 20 pages of typed instructions and forms and said to her, “The nurse told me I could fill in the papers here at the hospital.”

“You’ll have time now.”

I read the first page of the conditions they expected from their sleep study patients. Don’t drink coffee any later than noon. Oh me, I’m in trouble. I read the next don”t. Don’t wear skimpy or see-through pajamas. I thought to myself, who in the world would do that? I guess someone who hasn’t read the instructions.

The male nurse came for me at 8 p.m. I was wired. I quipped jokingly, “I see I wasn’t suppose to drink coffee.”

He didn’t quip back, but gave a serious answer. “It will be OK if you drank it early in the day.”

“Of course.” I made a mental note of how many cups of coffee I drank since noon and how many bottles of water I guzzled before I showed up.

He led me to a room with a bed and started placing wires on me. He stuck circles and tape on every inch of my body. I had wires in my hair, on my face, and down my legs.

“Don’t move, lay down on the bed. You can’t move until you call for me.”

“What about the bathroom. How does that work?”

Rueben offered instructions. “You’ll carry this black box around your neck with all the wires. But you have to call me first.”

“Well, Rueben, you’re going to be a busy boy tonight. It’s only 8:30. I can’t go to sleep until 10:30 or I’ll be up all night.”

He made small talk and asked me what I did for a living.

I told him I wrote romantic suspense novels and a newspaper column.

He informed me that he didn’t read that genre but he studied theology. He told me he was studying to be a priest, but he fell in love with the love of his life and chose his girlfriend instead.

I thought this would be a stimulating conversation, so I entered into his world. As if I needed any more stimulation. “While you were studying theology, I was studying the Bible. You could have had both loves of your life.”

“To each his own.” He stopped the conversation as quickly as he started it. He wasn’t there to entertain me. He asked me if I wanted a sleeping pill.

“No, I’m fine.”

He turned on the television. You have a curfew. The lights have to be off by 11 p.m. He held the remote. “Tell me when you want me to stop.” He landed on “America’s Got Talent.”

I said, “Stop.”

“Do you really want to see that little girl dance?”

“Yes.” I lay there flat on my back with wires on every part of my body, and watched the little girl dance.

Tyra Banks was driving me up the wall. Tyra, you’re trying too hard. Stop it. Where is Nick? I turned off the television and called Rueben. “You told me to call you. How do I get out of bed with all of these wires?”

“Don’t move until I come and help you.”

I climbed back into bed and called Rueben. “I can’t sleep; I need that sleeping pill. What time is it?”

“We can’t tell you the time.”

“Why not?”

“Because.”

The sleeping pill knocked me out until the middle of the night. Reuben came in. He turned on the light and put another apparatus up my nose and in my mouth.”

“What time is it?”

“I can’t tell you.”

At 5 a.m., the door flew open and the light went on. I was hung up in wires. Rueben started taking off the tape and circles. Still asleep, I felt like I was experiencing a wax job. With every piece of tape, I cringed.

Another trip to the bathroom and when I returned, the sheets were off the bed and the room was empty. Everything was removed as if it had been a nightmare and hadn’t happened. Rueben was in a hurry to clock out. Even the coffee shop in the hospital hadn’t opened for business.

At 5:30 a.m., I walked out into an empty, dark parking lot. Oh, yes, I left my car on the other end of the hospital. I went back to the entrance and found the security guard. “I’ve lost my car.”

On the way home, I swayed and dodged dead skunks. Apparently, they also had an eventful night, but hadn’t made it.

Final brushstroke: I arrived home to the familiar sounds of barking dogs and my Sweet Al. There is nothing like sleeping in your own bed. Even when you’ve got a good-looking male nurse looking at you all night and listening for your snores, I’d rather have my Sweet Al listen to me snore and tell me about it the next morning.

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This story was posted on August 24, 2017.