Twilight, a quiet leafy suburban street lined with two storey Victorian houses of mansion proportions provides a pleasant approach to the medical research institute looming on the corner of a side street. It’s brutally modern appearance sets itself apart from the surrounding elegance.
To the left of the grey tinted glass doors are two signs. The first refers to a bowel research program, the second holds the focus of my attention as I carefully read the instructions. I need to buzz reception. How do I do that? Ah, that would be the button next to the small “reception” sign. A recorded message advises me that someone will answer shortly, this muffles the sound of a female voice saying “hello”, “hello”. After I have confirmed my name and the reason for my visit, there is more inaudible speech. I’m sure I hear a dull click as a plane passes by overhead. I spot two green lights at the top of the doors. I try pulling and pushing the doors left then right, knowing full well that they’re not going to open for me.
A man wearing shorts, tee shirt and thongs (quite normal in Australia) walks past inside the building. He presses the exit button to allow me in. I thank him and walk into the ominously corporate foyer. A young woman with a nose piercing emerges from behind a long timber desk. She is swathed in swirling browns, reds and purple printed garments. When she spots me making my way up the black polished stone steps she returns to her chair and addresses the man who has let me in. I silently hope that he won’t be reprimanded for letting me in.
We are both invited to take a seat. The desk is lined with imposing black blotters that seem to stretch off into the distance. I bash my knee on the edge of the desk, not so well designed, I think to myself. I am pleased that I have completed and emailed the pre-entry questionnaire prior to my appointment as requested. Door guy has to fill his in now.
I wonder if the girl is a student or an actual employee as she finishes munching her way through something from a white china bowl. Our Medicare cards are processed using a manual credit card imprinter, “sleed, clack”. I complete more forms. I’m mildly annoyed that I have to repeat information that I have already supplied.
Processing done Miss Personality collects her crockery and leads me to a waiting area. There’s nowhere to sit, maybe unnecessary as I won’t be here for long? We stand in a long grey carpeted corridor with white walls and grey painted doors. She advises me that the toilets are down the corridor to the left. The receptionist disappears into a kitchen. I hear sounds of china clanking. On her way back to reception, she asks if I’m okay. Perhaps I have my sad face on? A fellow dressed in navy blue and sporting a blue-tooth ear piece wanders in and out of the kitchen. He opens and closes cupboard doors while tapping on an iPad. I assume he must work here and is stocktaking.
A white haired bloke who looks like he has spent too much time in the sun comes around the corner asking for Daniel, no one replies. His Hawaiian shirt with giant orange hibiscus flowers against a Capri blue background and white trousers are imprinted in my mind. The man tells me that I can go into the kitchen and make myself at home. I’m English, I seldom question authority and usually don’t go poking around unless invited to do so. The kitchen opens to a dining area. Also a lounge containing the obligatory television holds the attention of two nervous looking young women. I take a seat at the table and fiddle with my mobile phone.
It turns out Hawaiian shirt man is my technician, he’s from Derry or Londonderry if you’re non-local. Thirty minutes of banal Q&A follows. I remain polite and feign interest as I assume he is trying to put me at ease.
My scull feels like it has a slowly constricting band around it. The movement of my eyelids is restricted by tape. Innumerable snaking wires sprout from my head, they are secured behind me with fabric tape. Puppet like I shuffle from the bedroom to the bathroom. Movement is constricted by wires attached to my legs, side and chest. All of the cables are gathered together, they terminate at a dark blue box suspended by a cord around my neck. Plastic tubes sit just inside my nostrils they are part of a pipe that hooks over my ears. Straps encircle my chest and waist. A red glowing pulse oximeter is attached to the index finger of my left hand.
I’m ready for my sleep study Mr Londonderry!