Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sleep Study, Part the First

I've been busy taking care of some health care related stuff recently, so I was pleased that I was about to be finally free and clear of doctors for the foreseeable future. I was about to leave my doc's office when he said, "One more thing. You need to get a sleep test."

"I already know how to sleep. You don't have to test me. SRSLY," I said.

"No, no, no," he said. "We need to test you for sleep apnea."

"Sleep apnea? But why?"

"Because you're old, fat and your family says you snore."

"They lie."

"You're avoiding the question."

"How about them Tigers?"

"So let's say next Tuesday? Be there at 8:00 PM.

Fortunately for me there was a sleep testing facility a mere five minutes away from my home. Unfortunately for me, my insurance company wouldn't pay for that one. Instead, they made me drive the 50 miles into Detroit, dodging bullets all the way, so I could try to fall asleep in one of their aging hospitals.

Somehow, I managed to find the hospital along with the last parking spot in their lot, which was about three time zones from the lobby. I still managed to report in by the appointed time. And it's a good thing I did, because I only had to wait an hour for them to get to me. Having dealt with too many hospitals in my life already, I had been prepared for the wait. I'd brought my book with me in order to pass the time. And of course it sat there on the front seat of my car, three time zones away, where I had forgotten it.

They finally put me in a room, where they let me wait another hour. Eventually, the technician came for me.

"Put on your PJs and meet me in the exam room next door," she said. "We've got to get you wired up."

If you check out the picture of the freaky looking guy at the beginning of this post (who is not me, BTW), you'll see what they meant by wiring. She stuck wires on my head, my chest, on my neck, behind my ears and on my lower legs. There were two straps around my upper body, and what felt like a thirty pound millstone-like machine hung around my neck, into which ran all the wires. She even wired a little microphone by my throat and topped it all off by shoving probes up my nose. Then she taped everything down. Tape. You know. That stuff that gives you a Brazilian wax job when you eventually remove it.

Anyhow, I caught a glance of myself in the mirror. I had more wires coming out of my head than Brent Spiner when he played Commander Data on Star Trek Next Gen. And I was starting to feel like John Coffey in the Green Mile. I swear, if that woman started praying over me or tried to stick a wet sponge on top of my head I was so out of there.

So she led me back to my room, rolled down the bed covers and I hopped in.

"Lay back and get comfortable," she said.

Right, I thought.

"You'll be hearing me on the speaker in a few minutes while we check out your connections. Do you have any questions?"

"Yes I do," I said. "What if I have to use the rest room in the middle of the night?"

"Just say something and I'll come in and disconnect you. I'll be watching you all night so you have nothing to worry about."

Great. She'd be playing Edward to my Bella.

By this time it was already an hour past my normal bed time, and though I normally fall asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow, this night it took over a half hour. So naturally it didn't bother me at all when she came into the room and adjusted my wires three times during the middle of the night.

I won't belabor you with the horror story of my trying to sleep that night. Suffice it to say there wasn't much sleep, but apparently there was enough of it for them to collect their data. The tech woke me up about 6:30 and removed the wires, tape and most of my body hair. Then she started in on the questionnaire:

Do you feel rested? Sure. Never better.

Are you more tired than normal or less tired than normal? How about them Tigers?

Did you dream? Yes. I dreamed there was this angelic voice booming from the High Heavens telling me, "Do not lie on your stomach."

And then they let me go.

I made it home, showered, washed the gunk out of my hair and tried without success to scrape the tape residue off my various body parts. Just as I was getting ready to head into work, I got a call from the hospital. It was the resident doc who had just reviewed my results.

"Haggis," she said. "Sleep apnea. You haz it."

Great. So now I have to schedule a second test wherein they blow air up my nose in an attempt to help me breathe better while I'm asleep. This should be fun. I sense another blog post in the making, don't you?