Sunday, December 6, 2009

Amy Does a Sleep Study

I was thinking about all the books we read to kids to introduce them to things like Kindergarten and the doctor's office and the dentist. Mostly I remember Mercer Mayer's Little Critter books that told me about his adventures getting a new sibling or being babysat.

Before I went to a sleep clinic to get a sleep study, I thought, "This would be a perfect kids' book. Except that kids don't do sleep studies, really. (Although I learned later, looking up pictures for this post that kids DO do sleep studies. This would be an awesome children's book!) But I'm kind of anxious to see what's going to happen and wish this was a topic covered in those Little Critter books."

So I'm now going to share with you my experience, because I've always wondered what it would be like.

I came through the door about 8:45 p.m. or so, showed them my copious amounts of paperwork (that's covered in Amy Prepares for a Sleep Study. It's five volumes.), my insurance card and my driver's license. I paid my copay, which was ridiculously low compared to some people's - yes, I peeked at the check-in list - and then the tech walked me back to my room.

It was kind of like a hotel room, except there weren't any windows, and the bathroom was a lot bigger than any I'd ever seen at a hotel/motel. Oh, and there was a camera and microphone. I sat down on the bed, took the pre-study questionnaire (Have you had any caffeine today? Was your day especially stressful? Did you take any naps?) filled out the waiver form (saying things like "You can't sue us for the water-soluble glue we're going to be putting in your hair") and got ready for bed.

I left my door open, as instructed, and was greeted by the tech a few minutes later. In between this I read my scriptures, some of my book and watched a little Castle. She came in to put all the sensors and wires on me that would monitor my sleep.

I want you to imagine a robot.

Now, I want you to imagine opening up that robot. Just slitting him open like a tin can - see all those wires?

Now pull them out of the robot and attach them to various parts of a human.

I seriously had at LEAST 50 wires, coming out of places like my shins to monitor leg movement; my head to monitor brain waves, eye movement and jaw clenching; and my chest to monitor my heart rate. Now, add two straps (like belts, only made of nylon with those snaps you have on a fanny pack) to my chest and stomach to monitor breathing. A pulse monitor went on my finger, as well.

Also, there was this oxygen-tube-like thing that went into my nose to let them know if my breath was coming from my nose or mouth. Except it was pointy. And in my nose all night long. Along with having that, one of the best parts was having my head marked on with pen to see where the head sensors were going to go - she was not all that gentle with her marking and I think I still have the grooves embedded in my skull.

Then it was time for the mask fitting, in case they decided my oxygen levels were too low and I needed to use a CPAP machine to get into deeper sleep. That wasn't too bad, actually. Except for the fact that I had to put it on over all my other crap.

After this arduous task of 45 minutes, she asked if I was ready for bed. I was getting sleepy, and although it usually took me a good hour or two to get to sleep (even with working out and not taking any naps and such) and I hadn't been that early to bed in a long while (it was 10), I decided that that's what I was there for and said sure.

Before we could say goodnight, my tech had to make sure all of the monitors were working, so she had me lie on my back, then had me look to the right and left with my eyes, sit up, stick my tongue out, make three loud snoring noises, and various other exercises I don't remember. Then she told me I could get into any position I wanted and go to sleep.

Oh, yeah. Like that was going to happen.

You know how dogs look on a leash, tied up in the front yard? That's how I felt. I felt compassion for those dogs. And leash kids.

I'm a tosser at night, so every time I would turn over in bed the straps would get stuck on my pajamas and I'd have to figure out how to pull my pajamas straight without moving the straps. The pulse sensor finger thingie was also a problem. It seemed the wire was just barely too short to reach positions I wanted to be in. Oh the cruelty.

Also, it was a balmy 65 degrees in the room - freezing, even in my nice thick jammies. My tech gave me one tiny blanket and told me if I needed more to knock on the headboard. Odd instructions, but I guess they could hear me and help me that way. By the end of the first hour or so (although I had no concept of time because they didn't have kind of night-vision clock in the room) I was turning into an icicle and after hemming and hawing a bit in my mind, I knocked on my headboard. My new tech opened the door and asked what I needed. I said a blanket, and I was going to ask for my socks in my backpack at the foot of the bed, but figured the extra blanket would help.

Not so- my feet were still freezing a good 20 minutes later.

Not wanting to bother my tech again, I thought that even with all my wires, I could probably reach my backpack and get my socks without bothering him. I guess I forgot he was watching my every move - he came in about 30 seconds after I got out of bed, asking if I needed any help, since he'd seen me sit up. I was stretched out like a dog at the end of his rope, performing a probably humorous ballet, straining to reach my backpack and the coveted socks. He chuckled a little, put the bag on my bed, and left again, saying that he was just outside if I needed anything else.

I was glad I didn't have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I feel bad for people with bladder problems who have sleep studies.

About 30 minutes after I fell asleep, to my reckoning (my results said later I woke up 34 times), my tech was there, waking me up with all the cheeriness of a morning person. I groggily said good morning, happily was liberated from my wires (that dang nose sensor went first!) and was instructed to get ready for my day - the glue they used on my sensors was water soluble, after all, so I could take a shower to get rid of it - fill out a morning questionnaire, and have a complimentary breakfast at Kneader's.

It took a good 20 minutes to get all of the glue out of my hair alone, all the while trying to stay in the warm spray of the shower, considering the room and bathroom were still FREEZING. Even so, I was falling asleep.

I braided my hair, packed up my belongings, finished the questionnaire and was out of there. Although I rather horribilize it here, it wasn't so bad.

Especially since I got to go home and sleep a good eight hours.

Coming up next time: Amy Gets Her Sleep Study Results and Amy Gets a New CPAP Machine.