Monday night I went to the hospital. St. Joseph’s, to be exact. Don’t worry, it wasn’t an emergency trip or anything, although I did get dropped off by Keem at the emergency room.

No, I went to have a sleep study done. Apparently I snore. And when I say that I snore, it has been expressed to me that this is not a dainty, lady-like snoring. This is a rattle the windows, make the roommates think we are under attach snoring. And sometimes I stop breathing and then start coughing and choking. This is not a good thing, according to my mother and sister who have been harping on me about this for years. I probably have sleep apnea and should do something about it, I was told.

Thanks to Kari coming with me to see my doctor last month, I remembered to talk to Deb (my doctor) about these symptoms and she referred me to another doctor who suggested I have the sleep study done.

Let me be the first to tell you that it is weird. I got to the hospital at 9, having to walk through the emergency room, clutching my pillow and my Blue M&M suitcase. The security guard took one look at me and asked “Sleep lab?” Why yes, how could you ever tell.

I got to the lab and met Diane, the nurse who would be attaching all of these little electrode things to me. That was fun. Yeah. I routinely enjoy having little scary things taped to me. And glued! I had some glued to my head!

But when it was done and I finally started falling asleep, I grabbed onto Hippo (well, of course he came with me. Sleep in a new place? Hippo will be there. He is very faithful and fits into my suitcase just perfectly) and drifted off. Well, I say drifted off but it seemed like hours. I tossed. I turned. I tried to get comfortable, a concept that is made even more difficult by knowing that there is a camera overhead watching your every move.

Finally I fell asleep. This was difficult because I have a hard time sleeping without music. At home, I leave the radio or iTunes on. And then, what seemed like minutes later, I was awakened by a gigantic blond creature with glowing eyes. Diane had come back into the room with a flashlight to change the sensor under my nose. It wasn’t picking up my breathing very well. Instead of the annoying sensor that had the two wires poking up my nose, this was something that fit just right in that little divotty thing between your nose and mouth. I know it has a name, I just can’t remember what it is.

Later that evening, Diane came in again. We had talked about the fact that if she thought I was exhibiting the signs of sleep apnea, she would have me start wearing a mask. This mask fits over your nose and emits filtered air up my nose. It is supposed to keep my airways from closing up. I was so tired at this time that I just sort of laid there and let her fiddle around with the mask and the straps. I fell asleep again and then was uninterrupted until the following morning at 6 AM (yikes!).

Diane woke me again, unhooked me, unglued me (by rubbing this weird solution that was cold and goopy in my hair), told me to get dressed and gave me a voucher for breakfast down in the cafeteria. In case you are wondering, I enjoyed a cinnamon crunch bagel with butter and cream cheese and two cartons of chocolate skim milk (Land O’Lakes, my favorite chocolate milk ever!)

Then I came back to the room, flipped through the channels and waited for the doctor to come in and tell me what was wrong with me. He showed up about twenty minutes later. Nice looking guy, wearing a suit. Made me a little self-conscious with my goopy hair. Anyway, he told me that, surprise, I do have sleep apnea.

Here’s what I found out. My airways do not close fully but they do close partially. He showed me a graph that showed my oxygen level and how it kept dropping. And then he told me that he estimated that, if he was to count up all the times that this happened, he estimated that my airways close partially at least (AT LEAST) 20 times an hour. This means that I become unable to breathe and am waking up every 3 minutes. But I’m not aware of it. The other thing is that I did not hit REM sleep until after Diane hooked me up to the mask.

Well, no wonder I’m always so damn tired.

After meeting with the doctor, I met with the technician Terry who set me up with my very own CPAP machine (do not ask me what that stands for, I am too lazy to dig out the manual) and gave me all the instructions on how to wear it. It seemed simple enough.

Tuesday night I slept with the machine for the first time. I’d like to tell you that I noticed a huge difference yesterday morning but I can’t. However, after spending the 2nd night with the mask on, I am now noticing a difference. I’m not as tired. I didn’t start nodding off during calls.

You know what else I’m noticing? Two deeply red raised areas on both sides of my nose. Which means I’m either keeping the straps too tight or I’m allergic to the material that they cover the plastic with and need to soak my mask for 45 minutes in hot soapy water. Or both. But other than that, I’m fairly awake and ready to go. I’m not sure where I’m going but I’m ready to go there.

Oh, and I saw my regular doctor on Tuesday. Since February 1st, I have lost 5 pounds. Without trying. FIVE POUNDS! With Effexor, I have more energy and have a hard time sitting still. I find myself, when waiting for the Manager On Duty (MOD), pacing back and forth or doing leg lifts or lunges. I fidget a lot. I drink a ton of water. I’m not eating because I’m sad or lonely or depressed.

Oh! And I almost forgot! Friday night, when Beth and I and Matt and Char and Tom and Andy were playing pool, I was wearing the shirt I fondly refer to as my scrapbooking shirt (The one mentioned the night that woman grabbed my boob). I heard this guy say “Fun, fun, fun” and turned around to look at him. He smiled. I smiled. A few minutes later, Beth leans over and says “Hey, that guy? He is totally checking out your ass and has a big smile on his face.”

I got checked out. By an actual guy. Do you know how rare that is for me?

So, all in all, life is good. I’m getting back on track. Weird that I had to wait so long. And believe me, I heard about this from Kari. “Hmm, I wonder what would have happened if you would have gone to the doctor when I first talked to you about this?” Yep. That’s family for you. Always willing to say “I told you so.”

How are you all doing?

Previous Comments:

At 4:55 AM, brooksba said…
DM,You asked how we (your adoring public) were doing. All I can say is that I’m doing fantastic because you are doing well. Reading this post brought a smile to my face. I’m so happy to hear that you’re feeling better. I love you. You deserve the best.And that guy’s smile – really fun to watch. I love seeing guys check you out!Beth
At 4:12 AM, Weary Hag said…
How nice to ask how your readers are doing!! I’m fine as long as I have my family, my home, cats, music, computer and some vices. ;)Thanks for sharing the Apnea story… a friend of mine was diagnosed a few years back and ever since she got her sleep machine (as she calls it) she is a like a new person; better able to focus on everything. So this is good news!!Carol
At 11:18 AM, The Lioness said…
Don’t ask. But I am thrilled – THRILLED – that things are going so well and VERY RELIEVED you have your apnea under control. Actually life threatening. Glad your ass got checked, abt time you anjoyed such things again too. BTW,CPAP: continuous positive airway pressure. You’re welcome. Also, check this: http://www2.umdnj.edu/~zozularo/CPAPtrav.htm

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