Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sleep Test

I'm getting a bit later start than usual this morning, because last night I had to take an "unattended sleep test."

It was hard. Mainly because I stayed up late the night before to study for it.

It seems that I may have a condition known as "sleep apnea," which is not really a sleep issue per se, but rather a breathing problem that results in interrupted sleep, causing excessive daytime drowsiness. I learned I might have this condition when I found myself being frequently awakened during the night by Agnes as she shook me and shouted, "Breathe!!!"

So I ended up in the Sleep Medicine Clinic (who knew there was such a thing?), where the nice doctor gave me a home sleep test device to wear last night, along with detailed instructions on how to use it. This device is designed to measure respiration and movement; it consists of a control unit that straps around the chest, another pulmonary strap that goes around the waist at the navel, motion sensors that connect to one hip and both legs, another sensor that straps around one index finger, and a clear plastic tube that goes into both nostrils to measure air coming in and going out (the tube is connected to straps that go around the ears to hold it in place). I looked like I'd been assimilated by the Borg.

The really bad part of the test was that, because it measures movement as well as breathing, I was required to sleep alone so that the motion of a fellow sleeper wouldn't put spurious readings into the recorder. Now I ask you: what's the point of having a great-looking lady like Agnes to sleep with if some doctor is telling you about some $#%! test that requires you to sleep alone?

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

So, anyhow, Agnes helped me put the whole rig on, then dutifully went off to spend the night in the guest room while I tried to sleep (on my back, to get the proper readings). Being an old guy, I had to get up during the night, which meant that I had to turn off the control unit, ease my way out of bed, walk to the bathroom without tangling myself in all the dangling wires, return to bed, re-connect whatever had come loose, lie back down, then turn on the control unit again.

Where I come from, this is what we call a pain in the ass.

This morning, when the clinic opens, I have to return the whole testing unit so that the doctors can download all the information about my breathing and movements, decide whether or not I really have sleep apnea, then decide what expensive treatment will be required. I can hardly wait. Neither can Agnes, who is tired of panicking during the night when I stop breathing for minutes at a time. She needs to keep me around as long as possible so that she has someone to cut garlic and onions and get things down from shelves she can't reach.

For now, though, I think I need a nap.

Have a good day. Sleep well, and with the partner of your choice. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

11 comments:

Debbie said...

Hurray for Agnes being there in the past to wake you and to help you last night. Apnea is nothing to fool with. Mine is mild enough that I do not require treatment. Yet it was the combination of the apnea and pneumonia that put me on life support. So my dear, if you must assume the role of the masked man in bed, DO IT!

Amanda said...

This doesn't sound good! Poor Agnes, it must be awful for her and cause her even more interrupted sleep than you!

I hope your sleep improves without needing any expensive treatments.

Hey! Look under alternative treatments here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_apnea#Alternative_treatments
You can come pick up a didgeridoo here and visit me at the same time :)

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Bilbo. There are at least two colleagues here with sleep apnea, so you are not alone. Apparently it's way more common than most people realize.

Eminence Grise

KKTSews said...

On the bright side, it will be good to get a diagnosis that may explain various other things you probably attributed to "old age", like forgetting things, drooling uncontrollably, etc.
:)

John said...

My "at home" test was a simple taped to your finger sensor to determine blood oxygen. Since mine O2 level dropped to 60%, I needed to go have the clinical test. They found that I do have a case of severe obstructive apnea. There are two different kinds of apnea--obstructive apnea is when your breathing is...well, obstructed and is the most common. Central apnea is when your brain just doesn't send the signal to your body to breathe. There are different treatments for each and different sleep machines.

There are way too many health issues associated with sleep deprivation to ignore the symptoms of sleep apnea. Good luck.

Mike said...

There goes your chance at becoming an air traffic controller for your third career. (we'll all think of something else for you)

And the Borg picture freaked me out. I just accused Amanda of being a Borg in a comment response on my blog. I come here and there's a picture of a Borg. I hope it's not an omen.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Are you sure you haven't been assimilated? I'll ask Seven if she has been doing any on the quiet.

Leslie David said...

If you have sleep apnea you'll be sleeping in your Darth Vader mask. That should definitely make for some interesting pillow talk between you and Agnes. :) And if you do have it it's a good thing she was there to wake you up and identify the problem. Better a Darth Vader mask than a corpse.

I had a sleep study done in a lab and while I was wired for sound I didn't have to put on a Borg suit. Of course all mine did was prove what I already knew was true--I don't maintain sleep. I don't have sleep apnea or narcolepsy--just a screwed up clock that can't be straightened out.

SusieQ said...

My husband has sleep apnea. It took him years to find the right fit for his face. When he doesn't use his machine he can tell the difference the following morning. This has caused him to be dedicated to its use.

Good luck.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

my mother had to take that test but couldn't do it because she couldn't sleep with all that funky stuff on her.

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