This evening's sleep brought to me by science.
For a change, I feel awake today.
It's ironic that much of my writing in journals and much of my thought goes toward the topic of consciousness and thought itself. I've been studying and contemplating issues of cognition, awareness, and self for as long as I can remember. I've wolfed down self-help books and pop-psych in high school, went on to get a minor degree in psychology proper in college.
I don't use drugs to tinker with my consciousness (other than caffeine, that is), but I've tried various more controlled forms of meditation, visualization, and introspection. I flirted with Dianetics & Scientology (but ran far, far away), employed psycho-cybernetics, got motivated by Anthony Robbins, twisted my inner eye around to see itself with the help of Douglas R. Hofstadter, studied concept-formation and knowledge ala Ayn Rand, considered the multiplicity of self with Marvin Minsky, and explored dreams and archetypes with C. G. Jung. With the help of each influence, I've been stitching together a rough manual to my mind. Just like I've hacked around with computing devices, I've worked to understand and tweak my own mentality.
Oh, but I probably need to explain the irony: For the past few months-- likely the past few years-- I've been suffering from sleep apnea. LIke my father, and his father before him, I've developed a horrible snore and have started fighting a losing struggle with sleepiness. My dad is known for falling asleep constantly: in the midst of conversation, while eating, while getting his haircut, while using a computer. And lately, those have all been things that I've begun to "enjoy". Especially bad has been my tendency to fall asleep at work, and especially dangerous has been me falling asleep whenever I have to drive for more than 10 minutes.
This condition seems to have come upon me so gradually that it's only been recently, with the scare of losing my new job, and missadroit's persistent persuasion, that I finally ackowledged the problem and sought treatment. So, I managed to get an appointment at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Clinic, where one evening at the beginning of the month I was covered with wires and sent to bed. About a week later, they called me back to inform me that I had very severe sleep apnea, and was barely getting any sleep at all in a night with about 2-3 breathless episodes per hour.
Within a few days of that news-- yesterday, in fact-- I was given a new toy: The REMstar Pro CPAP System. After one night with the thing, my snoring is gone except for the occasional snort as I become accustomed to a breathing mask, and I feel quite a bit more rested than I have in recent memory. I still feel a bit tired, but that's to be expected: I've got many nights to catch up for.
I'd gone from being able to track "seven, plus or minus two" things at once down to barely one thing at a time, and that was if I didn't doze off in the middle of the task and have to rebuild the thought process when I snapped back awake. The irony of it all is similar to something I was reminded of last week: As it turns out, software needs hardware to run. So, for all my introspective experimentation on myself, and all my attention to consciousness, I've been feeling it slipping away from me lately. As a "software" guy, I can't do much with my "hardware".
So, I'm very happy that I finally-- after much denial and procrastination by me, and after much encouragement and tolerance by missadroit-- called and started the process that ended up with me sleeping through the night again.
And now maybe I can close my eyes and meditate without losing consciousness again.
Now maybe I can be myself again.
(P.S.: Thank you, missadroit. I love you and don't know what I'd do without you.)