Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Asleep at the Easel - Literally

Ya know -- it's been a busy and tough year. January through May I was working hard trying to stay ahead of my students to teach microbiology at the local community college. After the semester ended, I felt wiped out. All I really wanted to do was rest -- and definitely not paint. I'd sit in front of a new canvas or panel, or in front of a piece I had already started, and mostly just -- sit. Painting had become an unbelievably difficult activity, and I assumed it was from working so hard at art over the years and from feeling a tad discouraged about the slow sales. Those still could be factors, but another factor came into play:

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Apnea is a condition (if you don't already know) in which parts of the throat and roof of the mouth collapse during sleep, partially or completely blocking the air passage. This results in a slight arousal with each blocking episode, and apnea patients don't get the really deep sleep we need to function.

I always suspected I had this condition but never knew for sure. But so much makes sense now -- the lack of energy and motivation, the sleepy feeling I have all day (no matter how many hours I slept the night before), and falling asleep in front of the computer and even finding myself asleep at the easel when I do paint!

I'll be meeting with my doctor tomorrow to find out what's next (and, on another note, to find out why my sinusitis issues have become so painfully headachey this week). Unfortuantely, I had trouble sleeping at the sleep center (kind of ironic, huh?) -- the idea was to sleep for three hours -- the time it takes to get measurements -- and another three hours of sleeping while being hooked up to a CPAP (let's see -- that's Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, which inflates the throat area and keeps it open. Unfortunately, I only slept for three hours that night. The tech got the readings (and told me it looks like apnea), but we weren't able to do the CPAP machine during which the tech would have determined the optimal settings for the gizmo and increase the likihood that my insurance would pay for the danged thing.

I know apnea patients who swear starting on a CPAP machine was a life-changing experience: more energy, better sleep at night, and less at risk for health problems caused by longterm sleep deprivation. The idea of having a mask strapped on my head seems like something that would keep me awake -- but I've heard sleep comes more easily, and it's better sleep.

I should get some guidance tomorrow. Wish me luck. And more energy to paint again.

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