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Joshua Sharf

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Day of the Doctors

Maybe I was just imagining it, or maybe I felt left out, but there were some bumps on the back of my neck that seemed to be getting larger, and a couple I hadn't noticed before. And when you live in Cancer Country with a complexion like the Pillsbury dough-boy, you can't be too careful. Yes, I do tan, but I also burn. So, Thursady, after three-week wait, it was off to the dermatologist for a look-see.

Thank goodness, nothing. The doctor himself had a bedside manner that could best be described as Late Postmodern Undertaker, but he wasn't unpleasant or nasty, so when he said that the "moles" were just skin pricks, I refrained from making the obvious joke.

In the meantime, I had spent about a week and a half feeling wiped-out, dizzy, exhausted, and light-headed during the day. (Gee, we couldn't tell a thing. -ed. Uh, thanks.)

Doctor: Do you wake up feeling like you want to go back to sleep?
Me: Zzzzzz.
Doctor: Now, about the Restless Legs Synd- ow!
Me: Zzzzzz.

And so, Thursday night, it was off to the Sleep Center for a raucous night of highly-monitored and much-interrupted bed-rest. They hook you up with about twenty-five sensors, the best that can be said about which, is that it's not preceded by the phrase, "Send in Richards." On the other hand, it's also not followed by, "This'll help with the pain."

Thusly attired, with enough muscle sensors that I could fly an F14 remotely by moving only my eyes, I turned in for half the night. (Actually, given that it was private, it wasn't nearly as bad as the time an optometrist sent me outside - through the waiting room - wearing these to make sure the prescription was right this time. Walking back, I caught some woman staring at me, and turned and said, "Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.")

Halfway through, they start the real experiment - the dreaded CPAP machine. For those of you who aren't acquainted with the CPAP machine, it fits over your nose, and gently forces air down into your lungs, the theory being that if you can't breathe out, you can't wake up. Actually, it's not all that bad once you get used to it, although the air flow practically forces air into your mouth if you try to open it, making it more or less impossible to speak.

Actually, as I was writing this, the doctor called, and it turns out I do have "severe sleep apnea," although with oxygen loss, which means that for now, it's making me very tired, but it's not turning me into a coronary risk. This isn't an entirely surprising diagnosis, inasmuch as the last truly restful sleep I had was in September of 2000. Really.

So the CPAP machine looks like it's going to be a semi-permanent fixture. The good news is that I'll actually wake up feeling like it, which may give me more energy, and boost the immune system to the point where I don't get sick every time I lose weight.


Sleep: probably you're an expert. I'm not, but here are my tips from experience:

1. No alcohol - the sugar-level drop is death to sleep.
2. Eat lightly in the evening.
3. No smoking - don't know why.
4. Read chess games before sleep - takes the mind outside the ego and gives it the kind of work it evolved to do. If not chess, then an analogue like how to conquer Canada.

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