Some couples are always together.
I’ve heard tales of couples who lived an entire life together without spending one night apart. Stories like that always make me wonder about business trips. Does one partner follow the other on every business trip? Do the kids go too?
Maybe it’s an exaggeration. If not, it sounds a bit co-dependent; at the very least, it would be a logistic nightmare. Those stories never inspired a sense of awe or desire in me. Keep in mind, though, that I completed two years of college while living about one hour away from my boyfriend – the guy who is now my husband – so I know we can be apart and not fall apart, and I consider this an accomplishment.
Those facts aside, I’m pretty sure the night of the sleep study was the first night we had spent apart since I graduated from school.
That night, I marched up to the front door of the hospital with my pillow tucked under one arm and a knapsack packed with pills and pyjamas over my shoulder. I walked down the hall toward the sleep labs, unaware that this would be the first of many visits to those rooms.
I looked around the lab while I changed into my pyjamas. There was a hospital bed with a warm blanket and soft pillow. There were curtains on the window, a lamp and clock on the nightstand. The walls were painted a soft pink instead of the standard hospital green. No television. Oh, there was also a big video camera mounted in the corner of the room near the ceiling.
A nurse hooked me up to a machine that would monitor me throughout the night. There must have been twenty-five wires attached to me before she was done – leads to monitor my breathing, pulse, brain waves and sleep stages.
In the bathroom across the hall, I took my pain pills and my sleeping pills. A small monster stared at me as I brushed my teeth. White wires veined my long, dark hair. The wires stuck up from my scalp and then looped down toward my shoulders.
Little did I know, becoming that monster for one night was my first step back to wellness.
I slipped back across the hall in my socks and sat on the bed, testing the firmness of the mattress. With the lights off, the glow from the small lamp gave the room a homey feel. It was only 9pm, so I took a book out of my knapsack and gingerly laid my head on my pillow. The wires made it uncomfortable, but not unbearable.
Still, it was hard to concentrate on the novel. The results of the sleep study would be disclosed after about two weeks, around the same time that I was scheduled to see a neurologist, Dr. Brain, and possibly get a diagnosis of MS.
As anxiety crept into my veins, threatening to keep me awake all night, I closed my eyes and thought of my husband. We were apart that night, but my heart is always with him. The worries quieted and I soon fell asleep.