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We were at a talk, nicely dressed, surrounded by other nicely dressed people. It wasn't an enormous crowd; but it was a roomful - a little over 100. While taking notes, I was distracted, but when I gave my hand a rest, I noticed my husband's chin was on his chest. His eyes were open - barely - but he looked like he was in some sort of stupor. I gave him what I hoped was an unnoticeable nudge, which only slightly helped. I kept a close eye on him after that. Sure enough, just a couple of minutes later, his head was drooping again. Then he dropped a book. When he nearly fell out of his chair, I leaned over and hissed, "Why don't you go get some water?"
I didn't really hear the rest of the talk. Instead, I was hearing an angry litany of questions in my head.
Why are you so tired? You got more sleep than I did last night!
This is so interesting! Why aren't you interested in this?
How could you embarrass me like that?
When you started feeling sleepy, why didn't you just get up and go do something?!!!
Of all the inconsiderate, selfish, embarrassing... how could he have done that... to ME? I hate to admit it now, but I really was mortified.
Long after that talk, the narcolepsy diagnosis, and a few years of marriage, we had a conversation in which I felt a sincere apology was long overdue.
An apology from me.
See, Narcoleptics don't get to pick and choose when they're going to get tired, have a sleep attack, or lose concentration. That's why it's called narcolepsy! My husband never intended to fall asleep at that talk or any other public event. He can't always get up and get some water because... he's falling asleep. He holds a book in his hand to try to keep himself awake. Most importantly, he doesn't mean to embarrass me - or himself. That's right. It's not about me - it's about how annoyed and embarrassed he must feel as the one actually falling asleep in the middle of a super loud movie, or a concert, or anything else that he would like to watch but can't.
Long gone are the days when I would see someone fall asleep at a public event and "tsk" under my breath. Yep, I was one of those people. Now when I see someone who can't stay awake, my only thought is if anyone else notices, they'll give the sleeper the benefit of the doubt.
We actually still attend talks every week. I still take notes, and my husband still falls asleep sometimes. It's OK though. The notes help me to tell him what he missed.