I have a rare sleeping disorder. This disorder, though mild to me, is very serious to my spouse. If it was as simple as snoring, it could be dealt with by surgical operations or Darth Vader-like contraptions strapped to my face with nostril tubes that would reach into my liver – but it is not. The problem I have happens about once a year and, by my reasoning, is not treatable.
The best way to visualize my disorder is to think of us all as having internal clocks that govern our bodies. These clocks can naturally tell us when to get up and when to go to bed. The problem is that my internal clock can sometimes react as if a gigantic electromagnet the size of Houston is right beside my head. All normality is gone and pandemonium is put there instead.
Let me give you specific encounters to further illustrate this problem. The first time this happened to me and my wife was one sleepy night where my wife was sleeping peacefully like an angel and I was wadded up in some sort of cannonball posture involving a pillow, pillow sham and at least one corner of a blanket that is trying desperately to leave my straining clutches. It was during this night that I jolted awake, my internal clock askew.
You see, my internal clock told me – in harsh tones – that it was 6:30. The usual time I get up, but for unexplainable reasons to me at the time, the alarm clock said 1:03am.
Because my internal clock insisted in being right, the external clock that only had unreliable electricity powering it had to be wrong. Fearing some sort of freakish power outage happened; I decided to wake my wife to chime in on the issue. She wasn’t very forthcoming with useful theories. Mostly she was mad. The conversation went something like this:
Me: wife’s name!
Me: WIFE’S NAME MORE EMPHATIC
Wife: zzzhu… what?
Me: Why does the clock say 1am??
At this point there was a moment of stunned silence which I didn’t understand. Her unwillingness to jump in and solve this caper proved that I was on top of things more than anyone else. This was an error in judgment, however because she quickly diffused the situation by saying:
Wife: Maybe … because it IS?
(another pause of stunned silence)
The rest of the night was spent with me making sounds like a cappuccino machine and my wife wondering what just happened and why she was punished by a man who insisted on imitating industrial-grade appliances. We eventually laughed it off just in time (well, only me) for this next incident happened the following year:
While nestled and all snug in our bed, a familiar panic ensued. Around 2am my internal clock sounded an alarm akin to the terror alert being raised from green to deep deep maroon. There was no time to wake the wife this time, haste was immediate! I threw off the blanket, comforter, pillows and (I think) a largish stuffed animal and dashed to the bathroom in a tizzy. Somewhere along the way, for reasons unexplained, this woke my wife up. Just as I reached the door she called out “What’s wrong?” In a panic-induced voice tempered by annoyance at such a nonsensical question I answered back “It’s 2 instead of 1!”
Again the silent pause. My wife used her groundbreaking analytical testing question of “what??” for which I didn’t have an answer for. “oh…” I said with a laugh that wasn’t shared, “I did it again.” Trying to let this one slide by proved harder as my wife started wondering just exactly what was wrong with me and why she has to be brought into this debacle of “me.” Marriage joins a lot of things together. Let this be a warning to others considering such a move too lightly.
Now that I had opened the almost healed wounds from the first experience and inflicted even more pain with a ridiculous statement, I thought I had reached the bottom and put this all behind me.
One year later I had a dream. I dreamt that my wife and her mother were helping me debug a complex computer program. It was a humdinger of a problem too. As we three studied and sweated over the code, I decided to go use the restroom and come back to tackle it anew. While I was in the bathroom, I noticed that the wall clock said it was 3am. I was only able to process this by staring at the clock for a good 5 minutes. Why I was working on a computer problem with my wife and mother-in-law at 3am was a puzzler. And then it dawned on me. “Hmmm, I bet I was dreaming! Aha!” Then it dawned on me another time “I just woke my wife up again.” I then tried to reason that maybe I didn’t. No such luck.
I returned to a very awake wife wondering if I was sick or hurt. I wished it was true. The answer of “nothing” did not appease her. Sadly, the full explanation of my behavior didn’t work either. It was a lose-lose situation, mainly me losing some brownie points and her losing sleep. Since that time, my inner alarm clock has been restrained to me staying in bed and staring intently at my little clock for several minutes, convincing myself that I’m not late for work, church or to cook and eat breakfast sausage. If I was to retain any peace, if I do turn out to be late for something, I can still calmly remove myself from bed and carefully walk to the shower to proceed to get ready without knocking everything gravity prone to the ground. I’ve come a long way. Now to handle this cappuccino machine snore …