Wow. It's early. Very early. I'm still somewhere in Nevada, not in front of my computer. But I didn't want to leave the blog unattended so I am future posting this. It's a couple of days ago from now as I type (flash back to the past!).
Anyway, in my previous post I shared a story about sleep deprivation. I've got another one for you, since I figure I'm pretty sleep-deprived right now and figured I'd pay homage to my previous sleep deprivation moments in my life, well, at least the ones that stick out the most.
Oh yeah, and before I get to the story, here's a song that I'll be listening to as this blog hits the web. The story is beneath:
Now, onto the story:
Fall, 1998: I'd met Mrs. LB at this point but was just transitioning into life as one-half of a couple. I didn't date much before Mrs. LB so it'd been a while since I'd been in a relationship. Anyway, it was mid-October and I was working part-time for a small newspaper in San Bernardino, just starting out in my career as a sports writer.
I was driving around a rental car because my trusty 84 Toyota had been stolen a couple of weeks prior. It was tough, but Mrs. LB was very helpful and supportive. So I had this tiny rental car, basically something with wheels. But it had unlimited mileage, which was a plus. I noticed my NFL team, my beloved Chicago Bears, were playing in Phoenix. Back when the Cardinals played in Tempe, they didn't sell out games very much. So I looked into tickets because the game was within driving distance, and sure enough there were tickets available. I asked my best friend if he'd go with me and he agreed.
I woke up on Saturday, the day before the game in Phoenix, and went through my day as usual. In the early evening, I made my way out to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to cover a game, and a friend went with me, but it was a different friend than the one who was going with me. After the game, he decided that he wanted in, so off we went to get my other friend, and the three of us drove out to Phoenix. I'd had no sleep.
I drove the whole way. Since we were all in our early 20s, I figured that we didn't need a hotel room since we could just turn around and come home after the game. We got into Phoenix at around 6 am Sunday, and I was bushed. I was 22, 23 and still could get through things like extreme fatigue, not like today. I hit the wall, and the first thing that went was my ability to power through fatigue.
So we went to a park because I needed to lay down. I must've slept about an hour, one uncomfortable hour but sleep is sleep. We went out to breakfast and then headed down towards the game.
The stadium was unbelievably hot, and we had nose-bleed seats. I enjoyed the game somewhat (the Bears lost 20-7). I guess had the Bears won, I would have been happy. But the heat, my team's bad showing and fatigue all sort of soured the afternoon.
After the game, we went out to have pizza. It was the worst pizza I've ever had. I'm usually pretty good about pizza, even bad pizza is good, I used to think. But this pizza was just terrible. We left as it was getting dark, probably sometime around 7, and I was again driving.
At the time, I used to take a lot of Vivarin. If you are unfamiliar with that, it's basically caffeine pills, stuff to help shake off drowsiness. It actually worked quite well and I used to use it a lot. The last time I used it, though, was around 2004 or 2005, right before I was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea. I used to doze off at 9 am and I needed Vivarin to help me stay awake.
Anyway, I popped about two of the Vivarin about 30 minutes into our drive. My buddies were great help as they both were sound asleep around that time. They both, incidentally, promised to stay awake and keep me company.
We crossed back into California and it was getting late. And I was getting tired. So tired. I took another two Vivarins at the border, hoping that would wake me up. At that point, I was going on about one hour of sleep since I'd gotten out of bed on Saturday morning. We got to Palm Springs, about an hour away from our destination, and I was completely bushed. I took three Vivarins as a last-ditch effort to stay awake.
Looking back, I should never have taken as many Vivarins, should never have thought that I could have made it there and back the way we did, and should not have continued driving on the fumes I had. But I was young and relatively dumb about some things, so there I was.
I honestly do not remember the last 30 minutes of the drive. I remember driving past Palm Springs, past Yucaipa and then nothing until we got to Fontana, about 30 minutes past Yucaipa. And I don't mean that time has erased that - I don't remember now but I didn't remember the moment we got off the freeway. Everything was a haze. I wondered how in the heck I'd gotten us back in one piece.
Once out of the car, I was okay. I was a bit jittery as the caffeine had worked to a certain point. I was still tired but not like during the drive. I dropped my other friend off then went home. I got into bed at 12:38 a.m.
And as luck would have it, it took me a while to fall asleep.