The night i did the test, i settled in as best as i could. It’s not easy to sleep with things taped to your face and fingers. Not to mention the strap around your chest. The first time i did it, i apparently pulled off the probe on my finger not long after i fell asleep, so i was stuck doing it again. I really needed this to work because i didn’t want to have to go do it in one of their mock hotel rooms. That would be too much like a B horror movie.
It took a full album of thunderstorm sounds before i finally fell asleep. And when i woke up in the morning, all the lights were still blinking. Yeah! Success! So i pack up all the accoutrements, toss the sticky tapes, and drop it off at the sleep lab before i go to work. As i handed it to the tech, i told her that i didn’t imagine it had much bad news, since i felt like i had a particularly (And surprisingly ) good night’s sleep in spite of being wired up like a science experiment. She gave me a bit of a smile that i mistook for “Good for you!”
In reality, i later found out, it was more representative of, “If it were good, you wouldn’t have had to do it in the first place.”
I had opted to have a followup appointment to discuss my results instead of a phone call because i was curious about the mechanics and documentation of the measurements. So a couple weeks later, i’m in an examination room at the sleep lab office, and the PA comes in, shakes my hand, and says, “Yeah, i heard you had a good night’s sleep.”
“Yup. Hopefully it didn’t skew the test too much.”
“Uuuuhhh, seems unlikely. But if this was a good night for you, i’d hate to see a bad night.”
In one night’s sleep – a good night no less – i had 413 events. 4-fricking-13. Granted, i’ve heard of people having worse, but they were older or heavier or drank more. I’m an average weight healthy woman. I don’t fit the profile. Or so i thought. And when i voiced my surprise to the PA, he laughed. When i asked if he was joking about me needing the CPAP, he shook his head. When i said, “Do you have any idea how hard it is for a single, 52 year old woman to get a date WITHOUT having to wear a vacuum cleaner on her face at night? ” He offered that i could probably find a partner who also wore one so we could look like fighter pilots together – make it part of role play.
He went over the report with me line by line, graph by graph. There was no denying it. My middle of the night whale song was proven indicative of severe sleep apnea. (Leave it to me to skip straight to the high level. Oy)
So while i’m waiting for the insurance company to make false promises to the medical appliance company, i try to mitigate what i can. No sleep aids, no pain pills, no alcohol at night. I wear my little nose-opening strips, even knowing they are going to block my pores with their glue, or pop off and end up stuck someplace that didn’t need expanding. I doubt i’m really helping anything, but it makes me feel better to at least do a little something.
While i’m waiting for my new trunk (How big and bulky will it be? I know size doesn’t matter, but i’ve only got so much room next to my bed…,) i also do some reading about the condition and my test results. On the bright side, what few little health problems i have might actually get better if i can fix the sleep apnea, since most of them are at least peripherally related. That’s a plus. I will probably have more energy – Another plus – Which means i’ll be more likely to be active after work…. Which could mean losing those extra 5 lbs. – yet another plus.
So if i can learn to sleep while strapped in like a Borg, the payoff could easily be more than just an end to my overnight career as a fog horn. It could mean a lot of positive things.
That’s my story and i’m going to stick to it and tell myself it’s worth it, when i get depressed over having to sleep like i’m part of the Matrix.
Day 1. With the help of a melatonin (Ok, two melatonin), I managed to sleep all night with my sexy new snuffle. Honestly, i do feel more awake than usual this morning, but that may be a placebo effect. I check my report in the online app – And there is none. So i check the machine. No cell signal. Hmmm. Read the manual. Move the machine around the room. Still no wireless. Try plugging it in in the kitchen. Nope. The front porch. Nope. Considering my insurance company’s payment of said snuffle is depending on proof that i’m wearing it, i’d say we have a problem.
Read the manual. It says there is space for an SD card. Ok,. So there’s my fallback. Note to self: Buy a spare SD card today. (I probably have 50 lying arounnd the house somewhere, but of course i’m not going to find one when i need one.) The last bit of indignity would be to have to pay the full, uninsured bill for my snore nozzle. Gotta fix that.
Day 2. Last night i tried to adjust my attitude about the whole thing. Popped in an SD card. Strapped myself into my flight gear, took a pic of myself, and sent it out on Snapchat with the tagline, “My snuffle brings all the boys to the yard.” Here’s to humor – Helping to make the best of depressing things since forever. I look like i should be standing next to Sharon, Lois, and Bram and singing, “Skinnamarinky dinky dink, skinnamarinky doo….” But hey, at least i no longer sound like an Orca when i sleep. Or, at least i don’t think i do. It’s not like there is anyone here to tell me except SiriDog, and she won’t answer.
To help me get better used to this, i also turned off my morning alarm. There isn’t much variability in when i wake in the morning, so i wasn’t terribly worried. And true to history, i woke right before my alarm would have gone off. First thing i noticed was that i was instantly wide awake. My usual 5 minute transition has been shortened to almost nothing. Not sure if it’s my turbo hose or just the lack of an alarm, but that is kinda cool. I mean, i’ve always been a morning person – I wake fairly easily and without any grump; but it usually takes me 5 minutes or so to awaken the brain and the joints and the hands and the feet. Now it’s just, “Ok, i’m awake! Let’s go hunting snarks!”
I took the SD card to the sleep center and they checked my results. Success! Woo hoo! My overall score went from 47 to 6. Yeah for me and my new grey appendage! At least i know my embarrassment is not for naught.
It is almost my get-ready-for-bed time now, and i’m starting to feel tired. But that is most likely due to the fact that i had the energy for a full workout earlier. Another bonus. Energy for a decent workout. I can start looking forward to a waistline again. Hell, that alone might be incentive enough to keep wearing my face vacuum. Except that no one will want to see my waist because i will turn into a Kraken every night.
The Universe has a cruel sense of humor sometimes.
Well, i fell asleep with no medication help and stayed strapped in all night. I guess i can get used to this. I may never like it, but i think i would hate the complications from sleep apnea more than i hate looking like an HVAC when i sleep. And, i suppose, the older i get, the more likely any potential overnight dates will have one as well. Of course, that whole premise hinges on actually having dates. So basically, the whole thing is a fantasy. So be it. In the end it boils down to this:
I’ve got shit to do. Places to visit. People to meet. New foods to try. Languages and dances to learn. Music to hear and play. Books to read. Things to create. Friends to make. And maybe even some grandchildren along the way. I can’t do that if i fall into decrepitude. My desire to check off items on my bucket list and have a wonderful life is greater than my embarrassment. So i will do what i’m supposed to do and be compliant with my personal mechanical robot. (“Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”) I will strap myself in and ride the wild rubber hose every night. I will turn in my reports and make changes as needed. I will use the extra energy i gain to get off my arse and exercise more. And i encourage you, if you know you need it, to do it as well. Because the only thing worse than growing old is denying yourself the opportunity.