I recently got tested to see if I had sleep apnea. Sleep disorders can be serious, but my overnight stay in a “sleep lab,” had a few lighter moments.
Before leaving that evening, Mary Ellen helped me lay out a few things we thought were important to take with me, like extra underwear, a toothbrush, glasses and a good book. She also suggested I take my own pillow, just to make my experience feel more like home.
When I arrived at the medical building, I took the elevator to the third floor. The office was windowless and the door was locked, so I rang the buzzer.
“Can I help you?” asked a man’s voice through the intercom.
“Yes, I am here to go to sleep.” I felt strange saying that, like I had just stumbled drunk into Motel 6.
Stewart came out to greet me and to take me to my room, which as nice as any Holiday Inn. I thought I’d lighten the mood so I asked Stewart where the ice machine was. Noting his reaction, I decided that would be my last joke of the night. That’s called reading the room.
Stewart asked: “Does your wife say you snore?”
“She has no idea because she sleeps in another room…maybe because I snore.”
“Mr. Wolfsie, then how do you know you snore?”
“I get a lot of complaints from the neighbors.”
I opened my little suitcase and took out the items I had brought with me. “I hope I’m not the first patient to bring his own pillow,” I said.
“No, but you are the first senior citizen to bring his blankie.”
Stewart attached about 40 electrodes to my head, chest and legs. My doctor wanted to know if I was breathing properly when I slept. Did I have restless legs? Did I toss and turn all night? As you can see on my Facebook page, I was really wired. Even more than usual.
I asked Stewart how people fall asleep with all those attachments. He handed me a remote and said, “This should help.” I tried to turn the TV to the History Channel, which always makes me sleepy. The TV did not go on, but the mattress got firmer. It was a remote for the Sleep Number bed.
Stewart explained to me that his job was to sit in a nearby room, observe me sleeping for six hours and record all the data. That’s a long time to watch me on a screen. For 30 years my segments on WISH-TV were only three minutes long and that was more than enough for most people.
If I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, which happens to me only 100 percent of the time, I simply had to wave at the camera and Stewart would come into the room to unhook me. Then I needed to take the entire box with the attached wires into the bathroom with me. It was like carrying a time bomb. Stewart waited in the hall. Way too much pressure on me! I have enough trouble in Lucas Oil Stadium bathrooms when six guys are waiting impatiently behind me at the urinal.
The next morning, Stewart shook my hand and said: “It was a pleasure meeting you.” It would have creeped me out if he had said: “It was a pleasure watching you.”
Retired television personality Dick Wolfsie writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]