A Personal Update: Sleep Study Edition

[Content Note:  Congestive Heart Failure, Health Issues]

Me (mostly) wired up for my sleep study.
Me (mostly) wired up for my sleep study.

One of the things that the doctors at the hospital did while I was in for CHF back in September was observe my oxygen levels overnight.  Based on the data they gathered, they determined that I had several apnic events (where I momentarily stopped breathing) throughout the night.  The next night, they reran the test while I used a CPAP machine.  The end result was that they arranged for me to get a CPAP machine.  They told me at the time that I still had to go in for a formal sleep study to better understand what was happening in my sleep (also to see if I had any other sleeping issues) and fine tune my treatment.   Last night, I went for that study, or at least the first part.  It’s still not clear to me if there will be a second part.

I got to the Strong Sleep Disorders Center around 7:30pm and was promptly shown to my bedroom.  I began unpacking my stuff and tried to relax while I waited for my technician, Tim, to come in and talk to me.about the study.  When he came in, he asked me a number of questions and then described the various places he was going to wire me up.  The picture on this post shows about 75% of the probe points he eventually wired up.  It doesn’t show the four (six?  I lost count) on the back of my head, the two EKG probes on my chest, or the probes the had me run through my pajamas so he could connect to my legs just above my ankles.  (They also put a cannula in my nose that they used to monitor the airflow out my nose.)

Once he explained everything, he set up the CPAP machine just in case they switched me over to that after the first two hours (I didn’t have the requisite forty events in the first two hours, so they didn’t).  He also had me pull out my mask from home so we could test that with their machine.  He was actually somewhat fascinated by my mask, a Fisher and Paykel Eson, as he had never seen one before.  He thought it was pretty cool.  He then went and did a few things with his other patient for the night, then came back to do the actual job of wiring me up.  I spent that time watching the last few minutes of Futurama and most of South Park.  (Sadly, USA Network was running wrestling rather than NCIS or Law&Order, either of which I would have preferred.)

After that, he had to go wire up his other patient before he came back and helped me into bed.  He than started the computers int he monitor room and ran a bunch of tests that involved having me move my eyes in a certain way, wiggle the toes on each foot, change my breathing pattern, and do other funny things.  Then it was time for me to try to sleep.

I found it somewhat weird to sleep in a room with no windows, which made it pretty dark.  There was no light from outside (like from streetlights or rooms.)  The only light in the room was the couple LED’s on the equipment and the infrared light for the camera.  (Yes, they watched me while I slept.  They also listened in.)  I had an okay night of sleep, though I felt I had a little extra trouble getting to sleep and staying that way.  I’m not sure if that’s because I’m that used to the CPAP machine now or more due to the strange surroundings and being turned into a cyborg.  I did eventually manage to fall asleep, but not before Tim came in and asked me to sleep on my back (this often makes sleep apnea more pronounced).

I also dreamed a lot, and it seemed like I woke up from a lot of those dreams, which was weird.  (The weirdest dream was the one where I thought I had already gotten up the next morning and was talking to the doctor about the study.)  But I managed to make it through the night and don’t quite feel like a  zombie this morning.  Tim got me up around 5:45 so he could disconnect me and I could take a shower to get the probe paste out of my hair.  Then I filled out the questionnaire asking me how I felt about my sleep that night and how I felt about the study and the level of care I received (which was great) so I could leave.

As I said, I didn’t meet the threshold of apnic events for them to switch me over to a CPAP machine.  Tim noted that this doesn’t mean that my home machine isn’t helping or that I should stop using it (the doctor will instruct me when I see him next Wednesday).  At that point, Tim stopped himself.  I think he was getting close to discussing things that technically, he was supposed to leave the doctor to review with me.  (That’s the fun thing about technicians and nurses:  they have to be careful about how much they share despite the fact that they probably know a lot from the data they collect.)

So at this point, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I may have to go back another night so they can figure out how best to adjust my CPAP machine.  Or they might have enough information to make a call on what to do already.  Or they may take me off it altogether (though I get the impression that one’s not likely.)  I guess I’ll find out the next steps next Wednesday.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight.

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