I spent last Friday night at our local sleep clinic being evaluated for sleep apnea. I was evaluated about 12 years ago and told that I stop breathing 65 times every hour. I was given a PAP machine to gently blow air into my nose and keep my breathing passages open. However, the mask interfered with my sleep more than the sleep apnea, so after a few months I gave up on the mask. I now know that I should have worked with the technicians to come up with a solution. The timing was bad as we moved from Florida to Virginia about 6 weeks after my diagnosis. In the past few months, both of our twin sons have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are using the breathing machines. Progress has been made with the masks and the machines in the past decade, so I decided to give it another try.
I arrived at the sleep clinic at 8:30. Soon afterwards, the technician began attaching monitors to various parts of my body. Most were attached to my head and face; others were attached to both legs, my chest, and my back near my kidneys. By the time the technician was done, I looked a lot like this man.
Once I was completely wired up, the technician helped me into bed. It was difficult to find a comfortable position, but I did manage to go to sleep.
I should probably mention that a major storm hit while I was being prepped and we lost power. The backup generators kicked in and things proceeded smoothly until 3 a.m. when the AC went out. As difficult as it was to sleep with so many attachments, it was impossible once the temperature began to rise. Thankfully, I was scheduled to be awaken at 4:30, so I didn’t have to combat the heat for very long. It was a great relief to have all the monitors removed and I was thrilled to be allowed to jump in the shower. As I shampooed my hair, I was startled by an alarm going off. A peak into the bathroom informed me that it was the fire alarm going off.
I assumed that the power must have come back on and triggered the fire alarm, so I continued with my shower. Within a minute, a female technician was knocking on the door, urging me to come out. I quickly finished and dressed. Of course, there was no emergency. After 15 minutes or so of standing outside, the fire department arrived. It took another 20 minutes for them to give us the all clear. I was very happy that I had decided to finish my shower. Several of the other sleep client patients were still asleep when the alarm went off and stood outside in their pajamas with the monitors still attached.
By 7 a.m. I was headed home. While this will probably stand as my most eventful trip to the sleep clinic, I do not expect it to be my last trip. If the study reveals to the doctors that I do suffer from sleep apnea, I will have to spend another night there so that I can be fitted for a sleep mask and the technicians can adjust it to my needs.
I don’t like the idea of sleeping with a breathing machine for the rest of my life. However, it is preferable to being tired despite sleeping 7 – 8 hours a night. It is also preferable to dealing with health issues or a possible early death due to sleep apnea. So, I will make a real effort this time to adjust to the mask, if it is prescribed.