Das mud haus was a dark, seething den filled with with transients and layabouts. Blacked-out windows kept the cave cool and subdued, often taking several minutes to adjust to the lack of lighting. Where lightbulbs were supposed to be, fixtures were fitted with blacklights which were rarely on. A massive television in the center of the wall broadcast the hardcore porn channel 24x7 and a smaller monitor displayed a continuous scan of the exterior, streaming from a wireless camera mounted above the threshold.
There were many rooms, but many more people. Couches were often filled with occupants who were, for a variety of reasons, usually semi-conscious. The women were attractive, lithe things which exuded open sexuality, and the men, when present in the common room baffled me with their nihilistic indifference. I would step into das mud haus Friday afternoon and not re-emerge until Monday morning. While inside it was like I was watching a fantasy/horror existence play out in front of me, not quite tempting me to join, but pulling me in nonetheless. The harsh sunlight Monday mornings often awoke me from my stupor and in the clarity of day I was thankful I had not given in to sin and decadence. Yet the very next Friday I was once again face-to-face with this moral struggle which didn't exist outside its walls.
It was 2003 and I had recently completed my 14-month commute to Wichita and was working 20-hours a day between work and our startup, Wild Damn Texan. It was during this time that I first went to the emergency room for 'chest pain' and given a prescription of high-blood pressure medication - it was a little high. There was nothing wrong with my heart, but when I replied to the question of how much sleep I was getting, I was discharged with the understanding that if I wanted to prevent a return trip, I would start getting more.
Sleep is a funny thing. I can sleep eight, nine, ten hours a night with no problem. I'm not usually one to mull-over issues in my head at night. But I am a very active person. Well, not in the physical sense. I basically lead a sedentary lifestyle - but my mind is always going a thousand miles an hour. I never wanted to be a work-a-holic when I was a child, and though I don't consider myself one now, I'm often accused of it. I am *always* doing something. Which is why DVD Box Sets & my wife may actually be my saving grace. They provide me downtime once my children are in bed asleep.
Still, cyclic as these things sometimes are, I'll go through an entire month where I don't sleep. I work, or tinker, or play. My mind is a fertile land. After several weeks, I'm back to sleeping solid nightly. Being on-call or working special projects at work sometimes interferes with these nocturnal schedules, but I'm simply able to allow these times to compensate as my time spent out of bed.
Last night at midnight, my entire body flushed with heat and tingling - my body not my mind, was racing, and I didn't know why. I started to Freak The Fuck Out® - I leapt out bed and searched furtively for an answer. I wasn't in any pain, but I seemed to be doing everything at an accelerated pace, though I was standing still. It felt as if my entire body was shaking, but when I held out my arm, hand splayed to observe, it was still.
Trying to avoid an emergency room visit, I took my blood pressure and surprisingly found it normal. I decided I simply needed more sleep. At 0400 I sent an email to work letting my colleagues and boss know I would be in late, turned off the coffee maker and alarm, and tried to settle in.
My wife called, awaking me a mere five hours later. I've been averaging five hours a night since she's been gone. I took account of myself, declared a victory, and went about my day, arriving at work about ten o'clock. Then the flush overtook me.
I called my doctor hoping he wouldn't send me to the emergency room and made a 1500 appointment that I showed up two hours early for. Thankfully, they saw me immediately and the moment I was seated I discovered the cause of my distress. My blood-pressure. It was 150/105. Full on Stage-2 Hypertension. Even when I was in the emergency room in 2003 my diastolic had not been that high. They shaved access points to my chest and performed an EKG in the office. Thankfully, my heart is as strong as an ox. "You're going to survive the day." the Doctor began. Then proceeded to scold me.
You see, my doctor had given me a prescription for high blood pressure, which I attempted to use for the purpose of reactivating my delivery. The insurance requires all sustaining medication to be doled out via mail-order, three months at a time. Which I had set up once...until they changed their process, and I never could get the automated voice on the other end of the phone to provide me any real help. Now I'm a smart guy, so I went to the web-page to fill out the online form, but yes, it took a call to my own Human Resources before I would believe that the "online form" was indeed a pdf they expected me to print out, fill out, then fax back in. I shit you not. We're nine years into the new millennium and one of the largest healthcare companies in the fucking universe wants me to print out a pdf and fax it in. Well, I attempted to do so, but was blocked by further procedures which resulted in me giving up.
I remember the first time I attempted to bypass insurance to get my meds behind the counter, instead of my $20 co-pay they wanted $210. Jesus! So when then doctor suggested I bypass them again after my lengthy excuses for why I wasn't taking my pills, he puled out his blackberry and called my pharmacy.
Insurance co-pay provided I get all that paperwork sorted: $20.
Pharmacy over-the-counter consumer price: $3.99
Yeah, so...I'm fine. Just needed a vasodilator in me. I'll blame it on lack of sleep. Its funny how you're a bachelor your entire life, but then you get married and have kids and stuff and wouldn't think that living alone again would be so weird, even for a couple of nights. But it is. I can't explain it.