Another Night In The Lab

So remember that post about going to the sleep lab? Well, I finally got some follow-up.

I don’t know what happened right after my sleep study…let’s just blame Omicron for screwing up scheduling, but I didn’t hear from them at all. Finally, in March, I reached out and asked if I had missed a memo and was supposed to do anything. Suddenly, I was sent some crazily inaccessible forms and was asked to fill them out. Once I did, I was told I would talk to the sleep physician in June in person. Because life’s mean, my COVID infection kind of incinerated those plans, but they got me in in Early July. Luckily, I could come to Waterloo and I didn’t have to go to Paris.

The sleep physician was very nice and told me a lot of enlightening things. He told me that I had mild sleep apnea, but it’s probably closer to moderate since the quality of my sleep in the lab was dirt poor. But all those James Bond movie wires really do their job because they got lots of info on me. I can’t remember all my stats, but during REM sleep, I stopped breathing way more, my oxygen levels dropped like crazy and my throat muscles collapsed several times. I got more restorative sleep than I thought, but I didn’t get a lot of REM sleep, which is why it probably felt like I didn’t sleep. He told me I need a CPAP machine, and I should come back in and get wired up again, only this time, I would put on a mask and they would figure out what pressure I needed.

So, I asked him if I could come to Waterloo instead of Paris, and he said “Yeah, why did you go to Paris in the first place?” I told him that’s where the doctor sent me. Then he said “Of course you would come to Waterloo…that’s where you live!” Ok, that was easy. And then I asked the hard questions. I asked him if I could come alone and wouldn’t be obligated to bring someone. He didn’t want to commit to that, because he’s not the clinic administrator, but he said he couldn’t see why I would need someone after talking to me, because I’m perfectly capable of answering questions and following instructions. I nearly jumped for joy, especially when he said he would write a note in my file to that effect.

So I scheduled my sleep study for a few days later, and asked to speak to the clinic administrator about this nanny requirement. They said the administrator was out, and they’d ask tomorrow. They would not let me talk to them directly, and they didn’t seem really clear on this supposed policy. I’m really starting to think this “company policy” didn’t exist, because it couldn’t be explained or shown to me, and when Steve’s mom had called the Paris place to do her COVID screening for our first round of this, they asked her if she wanted a separate room. Wait, what? If you put her in a separate room, I have no way of communicating with her, and she has no way of helping me in the night. Hmmm. In any case, I guess the note was convincing enough, because I got a call in a couple days saying I was good to go.

This experience was far and away better than my Paris experience. I think the tech must have thought I was nuts because I arrived super early since I had been told that to get in the lab, you had to be buzzed in at this strange back door and I wasn’t sure if I could find it. So I gave myself a ton of time. So she brought me in and I just sat and played with my phone until it was time.

Then, she filled out all the forms with me, got me on the scale, and then let me go pee before she wired me up. She also told me some things I might have done wrong at the Paris lab. For one, I shouldn’t have put the blankets over the hand that had the pulse oxygen monitor on it because it might have given false low readings. I also shouldn’t have been on my stomach because that might have screwed up the monitors on those bands around my chest and belly, and I might have broken them…I guess if I was especially obese. Oops.

And then I put the mask on. We first tried a half mask that just goes over my nose, but I know there are other models. I have some sad news for you guys. The sleep talkin’ me bit might be dead, because once I’m wearing this half mask thing, I’m really hard to understand, and as soon as I open my mouth, the air starts feeding back through my mouth. I kind of sound like this cat.

So the only way Steve is going to understand me is if I get good at taking my mask off in my sleep, or he gets really good at translating “Oh Long Johnson” to English.

So after the tech got me to blink my eyes, snore, yawn and do other stuff, it was time to attempt another trip to the land of nod. At first, I thought it would be just as rough, but I know I did sleep some before I had a break in the middle of my sleep. I woke up, and my mask was digging into my face! Stupid me, I know I was supposed to call out if I needed something, but I had heard some beeping and chaos at one point, so I didn’t want to disturb her for a bit of discomfort, and I wasn’t sure if it was kind of like breaking in a new pair of shoes and was totally to be expected. But I found out later, when she rubbed the giant mark on my face, that I should have called out. Oops.

But then! I went back to sleep and I had a wickedly vivid dream about a bunch of us blind folks all having a sleep lab at once and somehow we broke a bunch of stuff, stole other stuff, and would owe $4000. I woke up panicking…and then excited that I had had a dream in the sleep lab! An honest to god very vivid and detailed dream! My readings must have gone nuts or something because she said I was awake and would I like to stop the sleep study now because I only had 15 minutes left. I asked her if she had enough data, and she wouldn’t say, so I tried to sleep for the last 15 minutes, but I think I was so excited about dreaming while all wired up that I didn’t sleep.

She then helped me fill out the post-sleep study forms, and when we got to some questions about her, she asked me if I wanted to fill those ones out too. I did fill them out because I had nothing bad to say about her. But I thought it was nice that she asked.

And in even better news, when I came home, I had life in my bones. I only napped for about an hour, and that was at the end of the day after calling around to different providers of CPAP machines. I must have been more awake, because I was able to wash all the glop out of my hair in one go. Or maybe they use better glop. And somebody commented that my voice sounded different! So yeah, I think I need one of these suckers. Maybe we can tame my blood pressure after all.

So after calling around to a few places, I have chosen a machine provider. It’s so hard to know if you’re making the right decision, but the consultant I spoke to from this place seemed to know a lot more details about insurance requirements and other stuff. Let’s hope I’ve made a good choice.

Also, apparently there’s a CPAP machine shortage, just like everything else, and I’ll have to go on a waiting list. They’re not sure how long.

So here we go into the sleep apnea journey. Wish me luck.

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