So here goes.
I haven’t been feeling well for a while. Lately I’m so exhausted, I am unable to follow through with the simplest tasks without it becoming a major ordeal. I’ve been thinking that perhaps this was just a normal part of the process of being perimenopausal.
I know there is at least one person out there that knows what I am talking about, because she has been through this too, and encouraged me to be strong and brave and do something about it. She also told me that is was going to be a lengthy process and that I needed to be patient and set my mind to this task and make it work for me.
I made an appointment to see my doctor. He referred me to Dr. William Hammond, who determined that a sleep study should be done. From the time I made my initial call to my PCP, all of this has taken a little over a month – which seems like forever for a person that is notoriously impatient.
I thought if I put on my big girl panties (or scooby doo shorts as the case may be) and deal with this honestly and openly it may in some way help someone.
For the sleep study, I was instructed to wear a two piece sleeping outfit made from cotton – no synthetics. My friend and I went to the store where she picked out the most ridiculous thing she could find, a Scooby Doo outfit – to help lighten my mood.
In Charlottesville there is a sleep study center affiliated with Martha Jefferson Hospital, on the second floor at the Hilton Garden Inn – I was to report directly to Room 205 between 8-8:30 pm, on the night of my appointment.
I was to arrive, showered with washed and dried hair without spray or gels. No make up, lotions, potions or creams – as they would interfere with the electrodes.
I could bring my favorite pillow and blanket, reading material or small craft to work on.
I was immediately greeted by two welcoming and smiling faces, Victoria and Elizabeth my technologist.
That’s Elizabeth – she doesn’t like to have her picture taken – sounds familiar doesn’t it?
I was escorted across the hall to my room
where the registration process was begun. I answered questions, and filled out paper work.
Elizabeth said she could see that I was still tense, and was going to give me some time to relax before she came back to start hooking up the 22 electrodes.
I was instructed to slip into my sleeping attire and relax, I could watch TV or read.
I call this photo the mug shot – and I think could I possibly look any worse? The answer – oh yes, it gets much worse.
Elizabeth returns after about a half an hour and begins the lengthy process of prepping all the equipment.
By this time I had established that Elizabeth was the perfect match for my personality. She was professional in every manner, she was sincere, honest and very down to earth. She put me at ease – well as best I could be under these conditions. Elizabeth has been doing this work for over thirteen years, and it is obvious that she is very good at what she does.
22 electrodes placed on my scalp to monitor brain activity, face for eye movement and muscle tone, legs for muscle tone and chest – for heart rhythm. 3 sensors in the opening of my nostrils, with one of those having a piece hanging in front of my mouth to detect and monitor breathing patterns.
the prep begins
a gleam of a smile is seen in the mirror
wires, wires and more wires
they all go into this box
patches, goop, paste, adhesive
more wires – here is my bedside table
The box above the bed is wired for sound all sounds that I make during the night are recorded. Why did I eat that broccoli for dinner?
This is the camera that is mounted up on the wall across from the foot of the bed. A video is made of me sleeping. I found it extremely disturbing to know that I was being filmed and listened to at all times. What if I do something inappropriate in my sleep?
I have no idea what this thing does. I call it the interrogation light.
Elizabeth does the final prep
I’m all hooked up and ready to go. All the monitors are turned on. I’ve got stuff stuck to my head, up my nose, on my throat, chest, down my pants on my legs. Two straps – one across my chest and one around my mid section these monitor my breathing. All this stuff leads into a box that is hooked to the head-board and then over to the monitors by the bed and eventually all information goes to the computer across the hall where Elizabeth collects data and watches my every move. Really? They think you can sleep with all this stuff attached to a person?
What you can’t see are the red marker lines and dots drawn on my scalp. My head was carefully measured, and specific points were marked with the red marker to determine the placement of the electrodes.
I’m now ready to try to sleep I watched TV for a while then tried closing my eyes. I tossed and turned all night, with fits of sleep here and there.
Each time I had to go to the bathroom, I had to call out for Elizabeth to come and unhook the wires. I knew that this was necessary. I was told not to feel uncomfortable about it, and not to keep from calling out. Of course I did. I tossed and turned wondering does she know that I need to go? When I couldn’t stand it any longer then I would call for her to come unhook me.
5:30 I am awake and exhausted – I’ve had enough.
Elizabeth checks the data and says she has enough information that she can take everything off, and I can try to go back to sleep without wearing the 22 wires, probes, straps, sticky things and various other torture devices.
A little after 6:00 am, Charles arrives to pick me up. I wasn’t able to get back to sleep. I generally feel really lousy and just want the entire thing to be over with, I want to go home.
I got up and showered. Lots of hot water and soap and shampoo – not enough to remove all the sticky adhesive and paste that was in globs in my hair, my throat, chest and other places.
A complimentary breakfast is provided downstairs in the hotel. For all I cared I could have been eating cardboard.
I must be patient and wait for two weeks until my follow-up appointment to receive the results of this entire ordeal.
I don’t like waiting.
I have really mixed feelings about all this, I’m glad I’ve done the test. I knew I could get through anything that was just for one night. However, if it is determined that I have Sleep Apnea, I really hate the idea of having to wear a CPAP machine. I don’t like stuff on my head or around my face – slightly claustrophobic. On the other hand, what if the sleep study doesn’t reveal anything wrong and I still don’t have any answers. What if I’ve gone through this for nothing.
I will post more about this ongoing process. It is my hope that it will in some way help someone else.
Until next time,