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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sleep Study AKA Nightmare on Vail Avenue

What follows is probably more than you'll ever want to know about sleep studies. Read at your own peril.

I'm home from the sleep study having failed miserably. I arrived at the hospital early for my 7:30 appointment. Elizabeth, there for her 5-year follow-up, and I were taken to our perspective rooms where we were told to 'relax.' After about an hour I was hooked up to 27 separate electrodes to track brain waves, eye movement (REM), jaw movement (teeth grinding) leg movement (restless leg) and more. These were placed on my scalp, face, torso and legs. Bands were placed snugly around my upper chest and waist.

Sam, the young sleep technologist told me lights out would be 10:30. What? I haven't gone to bed at that hour for years. But I was quite tired so thought I would be fine. Then the big news. After I'd been asleep for a while, if I was found to have sleep apnea, Sam would come back and hook me up to a CPAP - a lovely little face mask about which I'd already developed a phobia. We tried on three devices which were surprisingly not bad at all.

And so it was sleep time. After what seemed like hours of tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable position for my left knee (torn meniscus) and constantly dealing with allergies, I buzzed Sam to see if I could get to the johnny while hooked up. No. So he had to go through unhooking and reconnecting everything - not once but three times during the night. It was 1 a.m. the first time - and I had slept exactly five minutes in the preceeding 2 1/2 hours.

At one point there was a terrible loud rumbling from one of the machines. If I was asleep when that began, I was no longer so. And every time the door opened I just knew it would be Sam coming in to connect me to the dreaded mask.

The last 'bathroom break' was at 4:45. I learned I had actually fallen asleep about 2 and had slept well for 2 1/2 hours. Sam told me I could leave in about a half hour. I lay awake thinking, "Oh good. I don't have sleep apnea because I was never hooked to the CPAP." Not exactly. I do have sleep apnea but was not asleep long enough to allow a full study!

I left there feeling defeated and discouraged, knowing I'll have to repeat the test. Because I am not able to sleep well, I don't know when this will be done. Additionally, the test was probably expensive. Will insurance even pay for another?

I did have one brief respite from this lifelong sleep problem when I was taking prempro. That was stopped cold turkey following my heart attack. And the sleep doctor took me off xanax - even though I was only taking 1 mg - saying it would interfere with the study. Well so does not being able to sleep!

Sleep apnea is very serious and can be life threatening. It also is a cause of obesity (check), diabetes (check) and heart attack (check). My plan is to have the sleep doctor, my cardiologist and my psychiatrist work together to find something which will allow me to safely sleep. Only then will I give the test another go.

A room of my own. I was glad I'd brought my two pillows from home (coffee cup design) as those furnished were terribly thin. The bed was extremely soft, making it difficult to change position. And it seemed to be higher at the foot which made me think I was falling head-first into a ravine all night.

I watched the shuttle launch while 'relaxing.' Note the camera
which would record my sleep habits.

Wired for sleep. To this hook-up were added an oxygen canula plus another little wire contraption inserted in my nostrils.
Photo credit: Sam

My bed partner. I kept thinking these colorful wires would be so good in my art! Click on photo for a closer view.

The cupboard next to my bed held tons of these air hoses as well as oxygen tanks and other things I did not want to know about.


mageez said...

Do the second sleep study and use the cpap when you get it. it will take some getting used to. but you cannot immagine the difference it will make in how you feel. any questions please feel free to contact me.

Exuberant Color said...

A friend of mine just described her sleep test to me yesterday. it sounds about like yours. She made 4 trips to the bathroom. She slept just enough minutes to be evaluated and will get her CPap unit this week.
My cousin said he had never has such good sleep/rest as he got after he started using the CPap.