The Naked Emperor

10 May 2004

A non-Rant

10 May 2004

Sleep depravation can be ever so much fun.

Last week was rather long at the clinic. I honestly tried to get as much rest as possible, but it still wasn't enough. To get what relief I could, everything else had to wait. You know, normal life things like the yard, the garden, writing, et cetera.

So today, when I got off duty this morning, I felt compelled to play catch up. After running an errand or two I got started on the lawn and garden. It took all day. So there were only a few hours sleep in the last three days.

Normally riding the tractor or the drive home gives me a good chance to collect my thoughts on what to compose. But today my brain was on strike. Temporary ADD.

There are so many things going on in the world. The Iraqi prisoners scandal, gay marriage, the Kerry campaign, and dear friend's better half getting deployed all are interesting topics. I really tried to think about them. I went looking deep inside my brain for meaningful thoughts but all I saw was a sign saying "closed for repairs, try again tomorrow".

What really amazes me is that our servicemen function so well like this when in hostile contact. I know that my job is stressful, with little sleep and lives at stake. But not my life. The troops are not only deprived of sleep, but also of the closeness of friends and loved ones. Hey, I miss the wife when I'm pulling the weekend long shift, but I can call a time or three each day and I know I'll see her on Monday. Not only are lives at stake in their profession, but their own lives are at risk.

Stress and lack of sleep combined can have potentially fatal consequences. I make myself double check even commonly used drug doses and consciously read drug labels whenever seconds aren't critical. The risk of fatality are too great. Yet these people manage to perform well under far worse circumstances than I've ever had to. Just look at the drop in "friendly fire" incidents during the combat phase.

The really cool thing about sleep depravation is it's kind of like going on a bender. Weird, stupid everyday things are so much funnier. This is a good time to watch a Stooges movie. You'll be going along seemingly alright, then you suddenly get a craving for a chocolate Pop-Tart. (It was good, too! Fortunately the wife has seen me after a duty weekend a time or a hundred.) Just like being drunk, any filter between mind and mouth is gone. You have to be careful who you talk to. If you write, this is a time to be very thankful for spell check and that it's hard to slur on a keyboard.

But this is better than being drunk. I'll be just fine tomorrow, ready to go with no hangover. And I don't suddenly believe that an ex from fifteen years really wants to hear from me at three AM.

This is a good time to think outside the box, if you're so inclined. Thinking outside the box is vastly overrated, especially if you're a housecat. Think about it.

On that note, I'd better go and fall in bed. I'll be clever in a day or two.

Until later,

Dr. Peter Grout