Monday, December 08, 2008

The Sleep Study (in great detail)

Well, I'm back from my sleep study! Knowing that I'll forget everything if I don't write it down right away, I'm using this blog entry as a memory aid. You might be bored if you read it all the way through. It's not like it was really that exciting.

To be honest, my biggest worry was actually the drive to get to the Sleep Center. It's a 40 minute drive, mostly freeway, at night. My last solo night drive on that freeway wasn't very pleasant, so I was a little worried. Fortunately, it was a quick, safe drive. I arrived 15 minutes early, called hubby-Eric from the parking lot to let him know I got there safe, then went to the door.

It was locked. Well, duh. After hours. I looked for another door, didn't see any, and was about to bang on the door when I noticed a doorbell. So I rang instead. A few moments later the tech, Juan, opened the door and led me to my prison cell sleeping room. It had a bed, a chair, a couch, and a cabinet, as well as a row of windows that were shaded for the night. I set my stuff down, and waited. Fifteen minutes later at nine pm sharp, Lola knocked on the door. It was locked... apparently Juan had locked it as he left. Lola chastized me mildly for locking it, then apologized when I said I hadn't even known it was locked.

After consulting with Lola, I hit the restroom and changed into my nightclothes, as nothing in the world would induce me to change in the heavily monitored sleep room. Lola took my cooler with breakfast in it and put the whole thing in the fridge in the monitoring room. She asked me about my weight loss, thus alerting me that she'd read my file. I gave my usual "counting calories and exercise" answer.

Then Lola sat me in the chair in the sleep room and started to apply electrodes. She turned on the TV, as well. It was on Family Guy, and so I watched the longest continuous bit of that show I've ever seen. I finally got up the nerve to ask to change the channel, and she said she had been surprised I hadn't already. So I channel-surfed up to C-Span and watched the Queen opening Parliament. Then surfed up to watch some folks chase tornadoes.

The placing of the electrodes took over an hour. I got electrodes all over my head and neck, two on my chest, and two each on my legs. I also got a nasal thing, which was really one of the most annoying medical things I've ever worn. Not in the least painful, just annoying. The wires were attached to a box that I could sling around my neck to walk around, but I was set for the night so I hit the bed. There I got another monitoring device on my finger that pinched almost painfully. Wires were taped down to me, and then it was lights out.

Lola's voice came over the loudspeaker to run the calibrations. I had to open my eyes for 30 seconds, close my eyes for 30 seconds, blink 10 times, move my eyes up, down, left, and right. I had to grind my teeth, swallow, take a deep breath, yawn, and finally... good night.

In the dark I could see the two night vision cameras and hear the hum of some of the monitoring equipment. The bed was soft, but the pillows were hard. The song "Whatever Lola Wants" from Damn Yankees started running through my head. I kept tensing up, thinking I was being watched. I tried all my usual tricks for sleeping, and nothing worked. I rolled to one side, and then the other. The wires pulled gently, but didn't hinder me. The nasal thing annoyed me. I dozed off and woke up repeatedly. I could hear the techs murmuring in the next room. Finally, Lola's voice came on to say it was 6 am, time to wake up!

Lola entered the room and took off the leg electrodes and the finger-pincher. My arm itched terribly where the tape had been for the finger-pincher. It continued to itch for another hour or so. Lola informed me that I was to stay awake for the next two hours, at which point my day study would start. No napping! I got my first look at myself in the mirror when I hit the restroom. I had been considering taking a picture of myself. I dropped the idea immediately when I saw the nasal contraption.

I picked up my Agatha Christie book and started reading. And reading. And reading. I got cold, and very very carefully pulled on my sweatshirt (a feat which, thinking back, I'm not entirely sure how I managed alone). At one point another tech came in the room to grab something from the cabinet (another patient had left a pillow). The guy was a dead-ringer for Adric from Doctor Who.

Two hours later, the day tech arrived. I cannot remember his name. He took the nasal thing off me (yay!), and did a test of the wires. Something was wrong, and yet another tech entered and fixed the set-up. A wire was plugged into the wrong port. I didn't say anything, but I really hope it was the right port for the night study and just needed to be changed for the day study!

The day tech had me take "a 20 minute nap" after running through the same loudspeaker calibrations as Lola had taken me through the night before. I didn't sleep, though I was tired and wanted desperately to nap. He "woke" me after 20 minutes and told me I had to stay awake the next two hours, then we'd do it again. I had to go through a total of four "naps", possibly five if everything didn't go smoothly, then I could leave. He opened a couple of the window-shades to show an incredible view of a lake with mountains in the background. I thought I recognized the "backside" of Mount Rainier peeping over the hills. The foothills had snow on them.

After the first nap, I got my breakfast. Counting up the hours, I realized I should've brought a lunch as well. I finished the Agatha Christie book I had brought and realized I should've brought another book. *sigh* I turned to the TV and channel-surfed. It was uninspiring. I watched a slightly cool story about the Catacombs of Paris, but was mostly bored. I noticed that someone had left a Cheeto-stained copy of "The Cat Who Blew the Whistle" by Lilian Jackson Braun in the bedside table. The TV went off and I started to read the book. Two pages in the day tech arrived for my second "nap".

This time I dozed off a little before being woken. Again, the day tech opened up the window shades and made it clear I was not to nap in the next two hours. I picked up the book again and got reading. After Agatha Christie, this book was a bit like having a Hershey bar after indulging in Godiva Chocolates. Yeah, it's still chocolate, but there's a distinct difference. In addition, I'd never read any of "The Cat..." books, so it felt a little like jumping into the middle of a TV series. While there are plenty of hints, there wasn't enough context to really enjoy the book on its own.

When the day tech came for the next nap, I was about halfway through the book. Again we went through the routine, again I dozed a little, again the day tech opened the shades after waking me to make sure I couldn't sleep between naps. He told me I only had one more to go, everything was proceeding smoothly. I finished the book with a half-hour to go before my last nap, so I turned on the TV and tried to find something worth watching. Nada. I surfed until the tech came back for the last calibrations, then had my final nap.

After the final nap, the tech and I pulled off all the electrodes, which was mildly painful in a couple of instances (the one on my throat really hurt). He recommended that I shower before running a comb through my hair. I hesitated at this point. I could take a shower there, or I could go home with my hair in chaos and shower and eat there. I elected to go home immediately. He didn't blame me.

The drive back was strange. I had three main desires and couldn't quite figure out what I wanted to do first. I wanted a shower, I wanted food, and I wanted online. In the end, the shower won out because there was still electrode paste in my hair. After the shower, food was next because I was afraid my stomach was going to start swallowing the other internal organs. Then I got online just enough to feel like a modern person again before sitting down to write this entry so I could remember what happened.

So, that's the story. I get my results on the 18th. Hopefully something about the study will point to a way to get me better. Or at least allow me to rest. If you've read this far, you deserve either a reward, or possibly a warning not to read these kind of posts again: Me after the nasal thing was removed.