Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I'm blogging this morning from the Sleep Disorders lab. Yes, it is once again time for that annual test to see if I can stay awake long enough to provide safe, orderly and expeditious service to the flying public.
It's interesting to note the governments approach to the whole sleep apnea thing. As long as I dealt with my sleep apnea by ignoring it, I didn't have to jump through any hoops to keep my medical certificate and thereby keep working. Once the condition was acknowledged and I started receiving treatment, I now have to show that I can stay awake. Unfortunately, it is this backwards thought process that keeps many controllers from seeking help for a condition that often leaves them fatigued. Other sometimes risk getting treatment but not disclosing that information on their annual physical.
So now I'm wired up and have spent the first of several "test" periods staying awake. They turn off the lights, the TV and any other stimulus and make me lie in bed (actually reclined in a hospital bed) for 40 minutes...and not doze off! Who does this? Most people would fall asleep if they were put in a dark room and told to lie down for 40 minutes. The real irony of the thing is that the FAA says that we can't nap on our breaks while at work. I can watch Oprah or Dr. Phil or play darts or video games...but don't get any rest for your next session on radar! Of course, now I don't have a problem going to the quiet room and reclining in an easy chair with the lights off. I have medical documentation that I am able to do this without falling asleep.
Today I'll have time to catch up on my reading in between test periods (they don't let you nap here, either!). I have my HP Mini and will find ways to keep from being too bored and too tired. The test costs me a day of sick leave...another example of your tax dollars hard at work!