Early this month I had electrodes taped to my head, neck, chest and legs, then I was wished a good night for a sleep study to see why suddenly, to me at least, I couldn’t get a decent night of shut-eye.
The results, which I received on Monday, showed that over the course of the six to seven hours that I slept, however intermittently, my breathing stopped briefly “like you were swimming underwater” hundreds of times.
This is apnea but not the most common type of respiratory apnea; mine is linked to the brain, which “forgets” to signal to breathe, and is known as central apnea.
The news flooded over me faster than I could think of questions but here’s what I know. I’ll be forming a very close relationship with oxygen each night, I am having a brain MRI this coming Monday at Women’s College Hospital, I go back to see the sleep doctor on August 29, then I meet with a neurologist on the third of September and with my family doctor the following day It’s the most intensive medical care schedule I have had for quite some time..
I’m a little nervous.
“How long have you been wasting?” the chiropodist asked me a couple of weeks ago as she updated a history on me.
The starkness of the verb, however accurate, stayed with me.
I’ve always been thin, I said, but my weight has been falling a bit since last fall.
Fast forward to preparations for a bone density test in Women’s College Hospital’s shiny new facilities today.
I stepped up onto an equally shiny, new, digital scale.
Weight: 122 lbs.(just over 55 kg)
On my worst weight dives I’ve never been below 130. Even at my usual 145 I’m off the BMI chart.
I’m accepting fattening dinner invitations.
Mr. G’s eye exam has been changed yet again so that the antagonist, though dead for more than a decade, might only be identified by his last initial and the responsibilities he held – not by full name nor school.
I’m doing this following some brief correspondence from a classmate who wondered, without suggesting anything directly to me, whether the man’s son, our classmate, might be unfairly wearing the sins of his father in this Google age. Also, as I have posted previously, something has shifted from a feeling of justified un-forgiveness to at least releasing my choke-hold.
Today marks eleven years since the beginning of events which form the basis of my autobiographical piece entitled Chopin, Roman Polanski and a cab.
I will attempt to stay home after dark.
Following a “massive stroke” my beautiful friend of almost exactly fifteen years has left me. Emma (short for Emerald, the colour of her eyes) dropped to one side, sprawled on the floor, and let out a yell worthy of her Siamese ancestors. Now my breaths draw up sobs and tears as the quietest kitten of her litter, who later went on to bite quite mischievously, won’t be waking me up tomorrow morning. I love you Emma.
Facebook and Twitter have become my primary means of internet communication as of late but there is within me a desire to give my writer’s block the angioplasty treatment it may need. In the meantime, evidence that I have continued my love of photography:
If I have learned nothing else about my bipolar II today, it is that I am certainly not the only one in similar circumstances who has found photography to be a healing past-time. Facebook is teeming today with some of the creative works of the bipolar support community.
Scrolling through various blogs and web sites I have also seen confirmed that we face many of the same risks to ourselves as my fellow survivors of childhood abuse, sexual and otherwise, most pointedly suicide. Which doesn’t make me suicidal. Just so you know. It’s just one of those options I have kept in my back pocket since it seemed clear, however wrong, that I would be dead of AIDS-related illness before the 90s were finished. Of course it’s also a tragic reality among those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as we have heard about too often in connection with soldiers returning from Afghanistan or other battle-weary countries.
To be frank I am feeling very optimistic about my process right now. My p-doc is closely monitoring me as I add another “head med”, as I call them, to my cocktail of HIV, diabetes and bipolar medications. Spring has, for many years, been a time of hypomania which I used to refer to simply as an absence of depression. But it got much worse than a passive absence. When the cat (or black dog) is away, well…I played alot. Absent of depression, present with feelings I thought I could control, a deception of self that alcoholics often talk about, too.
I have often described the feeling of hearing the Bipolar II diagnosis, and the ways it fits me, as a day of sweet relief. It was difficult enough to live with a lifetime of, let’s say, ultimately poor decisions; I was glad to hear a biological explanation for them It doesn’t absolve me of everything but I have more compassion for myself and others.
Anyway the new med seems to be helping a lot. There are fewer sleepless nights, especially deliberately sleepless nights and I’m back on an even keel that I have experienced many times before on this journey.
Here is a series of three recent photographs taken here in Toronto, Canada, which I call Walking past colours