Saturday, September 3, 2011

Becoming a New Sleeping Woman

I've been feeling as if I've been dragged behind a '73 Pinto with a bad exhaust system over gravel roads every night.  So I went to see Dougie and I told him it was hypothyroidism.  Sure, he's a doctor but I looked it up online. And besides I attended Sister Mary Imabitch's Institution for Emotionally Unstable Nursing Students less than a million years ago.

But that Dougie, he's wise beyond his years. "Do you snore?" he asked.
"Evidently about three husbands worth," I replied.
 He sent me to have a sleep study even though I told him I sleep all the time.  I even fell asleep on the toilet at work. Twice. Not good, really. Sleep study.  How tough can that be?  You go to the hospital and let them watch you while you sleep.  Piece of cake, right? 

So I arrived at the appointed hour and two people stuck 573 electrodes on my head and body.  The ones in my hair were adhered with a combination of Super Glue and Vaseline, and evidently my skin was too smooth so they had to rough it up with a wood rasp before rubbing it with alcohol in order to get the electrodes to stick to my legs, arms and chest.  Then they attached sensors around my eyes and under my nose and basically any place they could find to attach sensors.  Then they pointed out the camera that they'd be watching me with all night.  Then they said, "Goodnight. Sleep well."

One gets really tired being dragged around by a toxin belching Ford night after night, so I went to sleep in spite of all that, until I heard a very loud, deep voice coming from the air above me.

"Miss Campbell."

I immediately came to a sitting position, wires and all. "You can call me Fay, God."

"Miss Campbell, sleep on your back."

I think I usually begin the night on my side, but hey when God tells you to sleep on your back, whatcha gonna do?  I rolled over.  By my reckoning it was about every two seconds that this repeated. Eventually I heard, "Miss Campbell!"  God sounded a bit angry and I wasn't all that happy with him, either.  "Sleep on your back.  You stop breathing when you sleep on your back."

Say what? I thought you wanted me to breathe.  I began to suspect this wasn't God at all.  I rolled over.  Two seconds later. . . "Miss Campbell!  Damnit all anyway, I told you to sleep on your flipping back, now roll over before I come in there and start ripping those electrodes outta your hair!"

That last bit may not be an exact quote, but it had the same tone and intent.  I rolled over.  Again.

The result of the test was that I roused an average of 18.8 times per hour.  Well, duh.  Also I stopped breathing 124 times that night, but honestly, when God starts shouting you awake, I think it's a natural response. The average time of not breathing was 16 seconds and the longest was 47 seconds.  Excuse me?  I can't hold my breath for 47 seconds.  I tried after I read the report.  Couldn't I get some drain bamage from not breathing all those seconds?  Why didn't the technicians or God or whoever rush in and give me some oxygen or something?  

But the good news is, now I get to wear a Darth Vadar type mask at night now.  The mask is attached to a hose which is attached to a pump that forces air into my mouth and nose.  It also has a humidifier so my dainty little mucous membranes don't dry out.  I mean, we wouldn't want this to be uncomfortable.  There is a setting which will cause the pressure to sneak up on me over 20 minutes.  The machine goes from 2 to 16 and evidently I need 16 to make sure I breathe.  This is sort of like sticking the hose you use to fill your flat tires into your mouth and breathing naturally.  There is a learning curve.  And the coolest part is there is a little computer chip that allows my doctor and the insurance company (which actually runs the world) to know when I go to bed, how many times I get up to pee, how often I stop breathing, etc.  How comforting is that! 

But the very best news is that my pulmonologist told me I'd be a new woman once I started using this machine regularly.  She didn't say who. So I told Dougie, who is a genius, a miracle worker, and a really cool guy no matter what his wife says, that I wanted to be a 30 year old, happy, healthy, slim woman with long heavy black hair, green eyes, and the IQ I actually had when I was 30.  He said he'd see what he can do.  I'm psyched!


  1. I had a sleep study done right before I got out of the Army. God yelled at me, too. I don't have sleep apena (which we knew before the study). My results came back as AFNAR (awakening for no apparent reason). In other words, they don't know what's wrong with me. (NO snide comments, please. I know there are lots of things wrong with me, the docs just can't figure out what they are.)

  2. I've got to get one of these Darth Vadar masks for my husband - he snores like a long shoreman on leave and sometimes seems to be holding his breath. Wakes me up once his regular breathing pattern is disturbed.

    Thanks for the info, Fay. Love you!

  3. Ah..Sleep Apnea....and the dreaded CPAP machine. I will be curious to see how you and the machine get along.

  4. You are a sleep-challenged NUT. I mean, God doesn't give a shit if you sleep standing on your head.

    I had a sleep test a few hundred years ago and, ten minutes after all the wiring was done, I hadta go #2 potty. Off with the wires, back on with the wires . . .

    A CPAP oughta fix you right up, but nobody can hear you mumbling, grumbling, or bitching through the mask.

  5. I got a CPAP machine this summer, and it is wonderful. I have even travelled with it twice already.
    I didn't think I needed a sleep test. I had one in 1989 and no one did sweet... um, no one did anything about the results then.
    But I had another one a mere 21 years later and dam... darned if I don't have sleep apnea. I looked up every alternative to the machine, including learning to play the didgeridoo (really) but got the machine instead.
    HOWever, I didn't get the Darth Vader mask. It left deep lines on my face, which lasted two hours after I got up, so if I ever wanted to go anywhere in the morning, I'd have to get up an extra two hours earlier, which seemed to defeat the purpose, no?
    So I got the little things they call, for some reason, "nose pillows". I have to close my mouth and keep it closed all night, but somehow I manage it. (Don't ask me how.)
    SO...I am now feeling better. Okay, it didn't cure all my internal complaints, but I FEEL better. Better than I have in years. No, I'm not a new woman, I'm still the same old one, but I feel better.
    Go for it.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel