HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
WOW! It seems like MONTHS since I’ve written! And now I have so much to talk about it will take at least a week to get it all out there! But that’s ok – all we’ve got is time – right?
Later this week I’ll be sharing with you all about our trip to Arkansas and Atlanta over the holidays, but first off I just HAD to talk about my sleep apnea test last Thursday night. I call it my Star Trek journey “where no woman has gone before” – well, unless you’ve had one of these things yourself! If you have, you belong to the exclusive club of men and women who have been attached to 25 (give or take one or two) wires with Crazy Glue and then been asked to “make yourself comfortable and just go to sleep as usual”. Uh-huh.
I didn’t have to report for this little adventure until 8 p.m. Thursday evening. Dilemma. Choice #1: Leave home at 7 p.m. – after dark – no nap (so I could sleep that night) – drive through “deer alley” for 40 miles. Choice #2: Leave home around 4 p.m. – drive 40 miles through “deer alley” in the daylight – be bored silly walking around Albany Mall until time to drive to Sleep Center at 8 p.m. Choice #3: Take Ted up on his offer to drive me the 40 miles to Albany and drop me off at Sleep Center, then come back after me at 6:30 Friday morning, when I would be “released”. It wasn’t even close – Choice #2 it was.
I packed my little overnight bag with the essentials I’d been told to bring – something comfortable to sleep in, my insurance card, and a list of my meds. I thought of a few other items when I got started – toothbrush, hair dryer, book, my own pillow, slippers, camera. What? Doesn’t everyone bring a camera to a sleep test? Notebook, pen, a nice bottle of Chardonnay and a bottle opener (kidding, kidding, kidding on those last two).
My instructions were to bathe and wash my hair before arriving and to NOT use any body lotions or hair products. Are you kidding me? I skipped the lotions, but the hair products went into the clean hair as usual. I was going to the MALL for Pete’s sake. They obviously didn’t understand what my hair would have looked like without PRODUCTS! (Because I was feeling guilty about that, I threw in my shampoo as a last thought – just in case my hair didn’t pass the “squeaky clean” inspection.)
I made it into Albany without falling asleep at the wheel and spent an hour in Books-A-Million before eating some Chick-Fil-A nuggets for dinner. Then I walked up and down every aisle in Belk’s Department Store, which was really fun because everything was on sale, and I never take the time to check all that out. I did buy a new pair of bedroom slippers because the ones I had thrown in my overnight bag had holes in them. I had packed the new pj’s Ted gave me for Christmas, and the holey slippers just ruined the whole “look”. Now I was ready!
I pulled into the Sleep Center parking lot, got all my stuff out, locked the doors, and walked up the handicapped ramp to the locked back door of the Center, where I rang the bell. I was greeted by Courtney, a respiratory therapist who would become my best bud for the night.
Courtney was so sweet and took my sense of humor in stride. In ten minutes, I had told her my life story and hooked her up to both my blogs. When she found out I wanted to “document” the sleep study for my readers, she just cracked up and said, “Sure – why not?” See. best bids – right away.
Courtney explained what was going to be happening all night and said to relax and get ready for bed when I felt like it. I was really worried about that because my “go to bed” time is usually well after midnight. I was afraid I’d be forced to turn off the lights at 9 p.m., facing a long, long night of tossing and turning. But that wasn’t the case.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the accommodations. I guess I was thinking “hospital room, hospital bed”, but it was nothing like that – a very large bedroom, with a very large bed, bookcases, fan, TV, comfortable chair, nice drapes, nice linens.
I got into my pj’s around 10, and Courtney came in to begin wiring me up. There were also two “bands” that monitored my breathing – one around my chest and one around my tummy. The head attachments were used to monitor what kind of “sleep” I was in – N1, N2, N3, N4 or REM.
Getting into bed and comfortable was a minor challenge, but the wires weren’t as cumbersome as I thought they’d be. I decided against reading, flipping through TV channels instead for about an hour and quickly reminding myself why I don’t watch TV. Nowhere close to nodding off, I still decided to try and go to sleep around 11:20. Clicking off the remote, I settled down, imagining Courtney outside my room – watching my every move on her computer screen. Talk about a boring night’s work!
After what seemed like hours, I rolled over to check the clock – 2:10 a.m. – my normal “wake up” time during the night. After that, I finally felt like I fell asleep for the first time, and moments later, Courtney was waking me up and telling me it was 6:15. The “test” was over.
As she unhooked me from all the wires, Courtney shared that she couldn’t give me any final results from my test – that would be for a sleep specialist to do within two weeks. She did tell me though that I did have periods where I stopped breathing (she wouldn’t say how many times or for how long), and there was one period where my oxygen level fell to a really low point. Reading between the lines, I think she was saying that I probably had some level of sleep apnea, but it was for the experts to determine how severe.
If indeed sleep apnea is the diagnosis, I will spend another night at the Sleep Center to determine the type of CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine I will need. All in all, the sleep test was pretty cool and very informative in explaining my slumber routine. It was interesting to learn that MY interpretation of a normal “sleep night” was reinforced by the test – except for one event. In the “hours” I thought it took for me to go to sleep, I was actually dozing (N1) and in Sleep Level 2 (N2) from around 12:10 a.m. until I awoke around 2 a.m. I had only stayed “awake” about 45 minutes. In N1 you are still somewhat aware of what’s going on in your surroundings, and your brain is still alert, even though you are technically “asleep”. I did not go into “deep sleep” (N3 and N4) until after my 2 a.m. wake-up and then not until around 4 a.m., where I remained until Courtney woke me up at 6:15. That explains why when Ted awakens me at 7 or 8 in the morning, I feel that I have just been getting my “best sleep” of the night. For the body to repair itself and truly rest, you need 6-7 hours in that deep level of sleep. If I’m only getting 2-4 hours of that rest, my sleepiness during the day is understandable.
Hope I haven’t bored you to death with all the details here, but I found the whole process pretty fascinating. More to come after the test results are in . . .
Tune in tomorrow for our trip to Arkansas and a hike through the recreational community of Bella Vista’s Tanyard Creek Nature Trail – beautiful country and VERY cold that day!!