Thursday, February 15, 2007


I’m disgusted with myself. I’m in the middle of a week of vacation and I’ve failed to accomplish anything. I’ve written nothing for my blog, I’ve read one chapter in Rand’s We The Living and a few haiku, I’ve seen one movie (Garden State, which was great until the cheesy ending ruined it), and I’ve watched some uninspired television. I did successfully cook this chicken curry casserole dish of my mom’s yesterday that was fantastic, but other than that I’ve basically spent the whole vacation sleeping. I feel lame even admitting it. Vacation is rare and precious—it’s supposed to be a time to escape residency and remember what it feels like to be a real person, but so far I’ve squandered it behind shut eyelids.

I think the problem is one of pressurization. You know those teddy bears in a can, that pop out when you pull off the lid? That’s the kind of pressurization that I’m talking about. One of the most interesting phenomena in medicine is actually pressured speech, which is seen in some of the psychiatric disorders. You get these people who have just this intense desire to speak, so that they can’t even get the words out of their mouths fast enough. They’re horrible to interview, because as the physician you can’t get in a word edgewise, much less get them to stop talking. You simply have to examine them through the noise, hoping to catch a heart sound or two when they pause to gulp for air. I don’t have pressured speech, but I do suspect that my current hypersomnia is due to pressured sleep. For the last three months, I’ve been averaging about 5-6 hours of sleep a night, which I thought was sufficient, but apparently not. My body, it seems, was just waiting to enter hibernation. (Hmm, maybe humans are more closely related to bears than previously thought. Anybody else been having cravings for raw fish?)

The question, though, is how I was able to pressurize my sleep. Why didn’t I just fall asleep every night for the last three months, instead of all at once now? The answer, I think, is pressurized time. When you’re working eighty hours a week, you don’t really want to spend your free time sleeping. In fact, you really don’t want to spend your free time sleeping. So, the time pressurization trumps the sleep pressurization and you slowly sink yourself deeper and deeper into sleep deprivation. Now that I’m on vacation, though, with time to burn, my sleep can has popped open and I’ve gone comatose.

Pressurized sleep, it turns out, is actually some of the sweetest sleep around. Maybe we should pressurize other things to make them better. Any ideas? (Stay clean on me people, stay clean.)