“Any major stress in your life?”
The question comes from a middle aged doctor, balding slightly and white hair at his temples. He’s wearing a long white coat, stethoscope draped around his neck.
My response. I can almost predict his next question.
Another mark in the folder that contains my medical history. I’ve always wondered what’s in there? Does it mention the time when I was four and broke my jaw?
“Change in diet or lifestyle?”
His pen scratches another mark on what I assume is some sort of checklist.
Doctor Banton looks up, staring directly into my black ringed eyes. I probably look like I got the crap beaten out of me.
“Are you taking any drugs?”
He’s very serious.
Another checkmark. Hmm. Doesn’t seem to believe me.
“How long since you last slept?”
I think for a moment. I count the days mentally. It’s slightly difficult. When you don’t sleep, days blend together, your mind doesn’t seem to want to work properly.
“Four days? No fatigue? Exhaustion?”
No, not at all. Just… annoyed, I guess, that I stopped sleeping.
“What about hallucinations?”
Hallucinations? No, why?
That got my attention. I wasn’t expecting that question.
“After three days without R.E.M. sleep, your brain will basically ‘force’ you to dream, whether you’re asleep or not.”
Jesus. No, nothing.
“Be careful. You probably shouldn’t drive until you’ve slept.”
I nod, mildly disturbed by what I’ve just been told. Then the barrage resumes.
“Was it a sudden stoppage?”
I shake my head and answer.
At first, I just had trouble falling asleep. Nothing new, I’ve never gotten to sleep well. Then, I started waking up earlier and earlier each day. It’s been weeks since I got more than a few minutes of sleep.
Banton nods, making a few notes.
“I can prescribe something,” Here comes the ‘but.’ “But, that’s temporary. Eventually, you’ll build up a tolerance and need a stronger dose. It’ll continue until you’re completely dependant on the pills.”
Great. No sleep or I’m addicted to sleeping pills. Some choice.
What do you recommend?
“I’ll prescribe a light dosage of a sleeping aid. We’ll try to establish a pattern for your body, train it. Also, cut back on caffeine; coffee, soda. That’s not helping.”
No coffee? I’m in Hell.
I nod, take the illegible prescription he’s scribbled for me and walk out into the parking lot.