My medical issues have been on hold for a couple of months.
I have had some follow-up appointments, two more phlebotomies (total of seven now), etc. Sleep apnea is playing a very large part in these medical problems. I had not been successful with the CPAP machine: I felt panicky and at times claustrophobic. According to the doctors, using this machine is crucial to solving these issues. Now what do I do?
Last month I made an appointment with a new pulmonologist. His first piece of advice?
“We’re going to start from scratch and schedule a complete overnight sleep study at the hospital.”
Last week I checked into the hospital in the evening. I’d heard war stories about this study—wires and electrodes and gunk in your hair—and heard even more from two of the patients waiting with me. Lord, help me make it through the night.
My technician was a young, quiet-spoken and gentle man. I mentioned my anxiety and uneasiness; he assured me there was no pain involved, that he would make me as comfortable as possible so I could sleep. Promises, promises.
My friends, I’ve never seen so many wires—in all colors—and electrodes attached to my body. The technician expertly and gently placed them on my chest, knees, arms, neck and even behind my ears! The worst part was the “gunk” that held the electrodes on my head. Oh yuck! Surprisingly, the mask was not a problem; it covered just my nose and once the CPAP machine was calibrated and I told myself all would be fine, I became used to it. The room, however was cold—I usually like cold, but this was bone-chilling cold.
Finally, I was ready for “take off.” Lying down on my back (I never sleep on my back), the technician made sure I was comfortably covered with a blanket and left a second one on the corner of the bed. He checked to see if I was comfortable—yeah, right! He showed me the emergency button should I need it—how about if I want out of here--shut off the lights and quietly left the room.
I lay there willing myself to fall asleep; I dozed, experiencing intermittent dreams, if one could call them that, but never did I totally fall asleep. No clock on the wall, no wrist watch so I didn’t know the time. I tried valiantly to get comfortable, but it was almost impossible, and I was freezing. Of course, I was being monitored and the technician was soon at my bedside. He suggested I try sleeping on my side and helped me get into position. When I mentioned I was freezing, he added the second blanket and again left the room.
I finally went to sleep—don’t know what time it was or how long I slept. The door opened, lights went on and my technician told me I was done—I thought the night would never end. It was 6 a.m. and I was so relieved to be returning home. The doctor and I would review the results of the study in a week and determine the next step.
“You didn’t sleep soundly, and that could affect some of the data,” noted my tech.
“Are you joking? How can anyone sleep soundly in a strange room and bed, wired to the nth degree, electrodes glued to my head with pasty stuff, trying to sleep ‘out of position,’ difficult to move around and on top of that, freezing to death?”
He smiled, reminded me to advise my doctor that the study had been done and smoothly escorted me to the lobby. White Plains was quiet at this hour; maybe I’d stop at the diner for breakfast. Nope, I quickly ruled that out, not with my hair standing at attention a la Rod Stewart!
You will bear witness to this declaration: If, because I didn’t “sleep soundly,” another test is ordered, they will have to take me kicking and screaming—not sure just how much of that an 80-year old can do—back to the hospital. Shouldn’t the fact that I was comfortable with the mask and CPAP machine be considered a winning assessment?
I slept like a baby at home the next evening; my kittie, Bonnie, sat on the bed watching over me, nudging my legs every so often. Maybe that’s the secret IF I need this study again: Can Bonnie come with me? LOL.
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