Errands

Today was an atypically busy day that got going rather early.  And, typically, since I can never seem to get to bed early when I have things to do the next day, I didn’t go to bed until 12:30 this morning (that’s AM for those of you keeping score).

With the Coronavirus going on, the state where I live has been very kind in letting lapsed car inspections go unnoticed (and unticketed) by the various police agencies.  But since that’s not likely to be a situation that’s going to go on forever, I thought it was time to get the vehicle inspected, and on the right side of the law.  I could have had it done a multitude of places, but figured since it was the first time since we leased it last year, I’d get it done at the same ‘flavor’ of dealer where it was gotten (it’s a Nissan, so it needed in my mind to be inspected at a Nissan dealership).

Too, it’s been over a year since we leased it, and we’ve driven it a little under 6000 miles so it was time for an oil change as well.  In theory, it probably should have gotten it a thousand miles ago, but that was over 90 days ago, and coronavirus so, it got pushed back.  Since it is lubricated by synthetic oil, I figure there wasn’t much (if any) problem with waiting for another 800-900 miles, and as it turned out, there wasn’t any mention made at the dealership about the time frame.

Needless to say, when I called last month to get an appointment, I honestly didn’t think they were going to schedule me two freaking weeks ahead.  And of course (timing) it just so happened to be on the day we were needing to go to the chiropractor.  Fortunately, they had an appointment as soon as they opened the doors (8 am) so that’s what I snapped up, since I was going to have to drive 25 miles to get there.  And I’m rather used to being up that early anyway.  So it all worked out.

Usually with this particular dealer, their service department takes it’s sweet time getting things done.  Even relatively straightforward things like oil changes and state inspections.  But with the current situation, there are fewer people around, and less time for doing other things other than work, so I was in and out in just about 30 minutes.  Certainly a record.  And since their labor cost is an ungodly $135.00/hr, I can’t complain about that either.  I was actually back home in under two hours, even with a stop at my local McDonald’s for breakfast.

Round two was going to the chiropractor, in another county up the road.  The route we take is quite scenic, KLWT-map-2020-wineries-only 6meandering up along the east side of Keuka Lake, one of the New York Fingers.  Seeing as I was antsy about being back home in time to collect the wife to get to our appointment, it just so happened to turn out that we had approximately an hour or so between the time I got back, and the time that we had to be leaving.  It’s about a 40 minute drive there, and as it’s summertime, there’s bound to be some construction of some sort on the roads, so we always leave a bit of leeway in travel time.  As with any doctor, there’s bound to be some waiting time, but the way that we manage things, our wait time is never more than 5-10 minutes.  Which is pretty sweet.  Needless to say, since my birthday had been a little while ago, I was due for what they call a ‘scan’, which is a computerized image of my spine, though non-invasive.  I’ve been having them since I started with this chiropractor and they’re a good tool for him to use over the course of the following year to see how well he’s doing with his adjustments, and how well I am doing with my progress in getting better with his assistance.  It doesn’t hurt that my insurance through my union pays some of the cost of the therapy, so all in all, I’d call it a win-win.  Though I’m not terribly sure what I’m going to do when he retires!

Finally, I had a call from the service that my union utilizes for medical issues, that I have to have every month.  Last month I wasn’t able to have the call, since there was a conflict, so it had been rescheduled for 7 in the evening, which wasn’t terribly convenient, but sometimes you just have to do what you can with what’s available.  Beth has been calling pretty promptly, and we’ve developed a rapport over the past 7-8 months we’ve been talking to one another.  I like her style, in that she seems interested in getting me along with the program, not just reading from the book in front of her; she takes notes and follows along with my progress, asking me pointed questions and not just doing things by rote.  With her assistance I’ve managed to lose about 15 lbs, and I look forward to talking to her in the future, and she’s not judgmental.  She understands that there are peaks and valleys, there’s going to be times when I’m not losing weight, or hitting a plateau or whatever, and she’s ok with that.

All in all, it was a pretty full day.  I managed to get to bed at a decent hour, since I needed to be to work the next morning at 8.

The mechanics of sleep

I messaged my special one the other morning and commented about how I only managed about six hours of sleep that night.  In her return message, she observed that on nights that precede days off, I tend to get up earlier more often than not, I don’t necessarily get more sleep considering it is a day off, and if necessary, during the course of the day, I can get a nap in (and usually do, not always intentionally).  After thinking about it, I was forced to admit she’s right, that’s what seems to happen.  I may get up to use the bathroom in the morning of a day off, and since I don’t have to be on the go, or getting up to go to work, I can stay up if I wish and accomplish things if there’s a desire to do so, without being rushed.  An interesting observation to be sure.

Too, I’ve been using a CPAP machine for the past 20 years as well.  For a long time when I was working nights, I didn’t get very good sleep during the day, and I mostly attributed it to the fact that I was sleeping during the day and not at night as is considered to be normal.  With the invention and subsequent proliferation of electric, incandescent and fluorescent lights, the possibility of working more than two shifts in a workplace became more common.  Go back to the early years of the 20th century and you don’t find too many businesses able to afford three shifts, mainly because their workers would be in the dark, and if you can’t see what you’re doing, you’re not going to be very productive.

Sleep apnea hadn’t been an issue until fairly recently.  Certain situations and instances when I’d feel particularly tired after sleeping 8-10 hours became more and more common and there were times when my wife told me I’d stop breathing in the middle of the night for a few seconds.  Oxygen deprivation would never set in and I’d invariably turn over and begin breathing normally once more, so it never became a life threatning issue.  Even so, she suggested I speak to my GP about it and he had me scheduled for a sleep study in 1999.

Back then a sleep study was a more involved affair, these days it can be done in your home overnight unless there’s a dire need to do it the old-fashioned way.  Meaning having you to report to a dedicated sleep study lab, be wired up to the machines (as I recall it took a good 45 minutes for all the wiring to be attached to my body) and then attempt to get sleep around 11 at night.  Too, you weren’t allowed to sleep on your side, you had to sleep (or try) on your back, so that you didn’t pull out any of the wires, and the bed was damned uncomfortable.  And you had someone monitoring you all night long, in another room with a light on, albeit somewhat subdued.  The only thing I could equate it to was being in a hospital and being awoken at odd hours to get your BP taken.  Finally, you had to be sure not to have drunk too much beforehand, because you weren’t allowed to get up and go to the bathroom once you were wired to the machines.

Pretty much the most restless sleep I’d had in ages, that I could remember.  When the tech rousted me at 5:30 am and told me I could go, I apologized for not giving him a better reading.  He said it was fine, no one gets much sleep when wired up like a stereo, in an uncomfortable bed, pillows etc.  They get the most that they can and generally get enough in the last couple of hours moreso than in the first ones when the subject is trying to get comfortable.  He said I’d be notified in about a week as to what the results were, but he did mention I stopped breathing more than a couple of times while he was observing.  So he was pretty sure I had sleep apnea, he just couldn’t tell me how bad it was.

I vividly remember driving home from the hospital rather bleary after being dewired from the monitoring machines.  It was right around sunrise, and it was a cold morning.  I had a 30 mile drive home, since the hospital where the sleep study lab was at, was a good ways away from there.  I drove there, had breakfast and then went back to bed, for a nap, which was much more restful than the one I had just previously.  A few days later my doctor referred me to a ENT nearby who confirmed I did indeed have ‘obstructive sleep apnea’ and needed a CPAP machine.  The surgery was available as well, but the machine seemed (to him at least) the better (and cheaper) alternative.

The first machine I got was about the size of a bread box, and cost about $3000.  Fortunately, my insurance covered most of the cost, or else I would have been in Dutch.  It must have been constructed rather solidly as it managed to survive nearly 18 years.  I finally had to get a new one when the motor on the old one burned out.  In that time the provider of the machine actually went through two owners and it was the third that provided me with the unit that I’m using now.

The old one had a serial port for communication, the new one uses WIFI for its connections and communicating with the home base.  The new unit does have a SD card port, but I believe it was put in just as a failsafe in case the WIFI was down or inoperative, so there would be a hard copy of the results for an ENT or other medical person to pull.  In the three years I’ve had the machine, neither my ENT nor the people that provided it have been interested in what’s on the card.

Getting back to the start of this entry, my sleep for the most part with the CPAP is pretty good.  Last night (this entry has been several days in the making, surprise surprise) I slept a little over 9 hours, and when I awoke, I still felt tired.  Right now, about an hour after waking, I feel rested and pretty good.  I should be ok for the remainder of the day.  Most nights I get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep.  Certainly there are nights I don’t, for one reason or another.  But when I’m using the machine and mask, my sleep is FAR better than when I don’t.  Which is why I’m often cautioned by my special one to use it, as opposed to just sleeping on the couch downstairs.  Believe me, I’m trying.