22 electrodes

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,



16 thoughts on “22 electrodes

  1. I salute your courage in sharing this adventure with the rest of us. Fingers crossed . The machine is cumbersome but it does make a huge difference. Those I know who use one are revitalized and able to function and no longer zombies..

    • Hi Nancy
      I know the CPAP machine does help – my husband was diagnosed almost twenty years ago and will not sleep a single night without it. I’m just a big chicken and don’t like things on my head. However, not feeling like a zoombie at this point would really motivate me. Thanks for your kind words. Best, Kim

  2. Ahhhhh Kimmy. You know I laughed reading this. And, I cried reading it too. You were so brave to go through this as I know what a private person you are and how difficult it was for you to allow yourself to be that exposed. And then, you share all of this with your readers. Thank you for having that courage. What you have shared could help someone else get through something similar with laughter and yes, maybe a few tears.

    As Scooby would say, I Ruv You.

  3. how very courageous of you to share this and help the rest of us understand what’s involved and what’s available. I’m surprised you’d even sleep 5 minutes with all that paraphernalia–but THANK YOU for blogging this, and we will all have you in our thoughts as the two weeks comes nearer.

  4. I too admire your bravery and honesty. It sure didn’t look like it helped to capture a “typical night’s sleep”! But sometimes we have to do these things…hopefully when you get some rest you can chuckle about it. Hope you do get some rest!

  5. I showed your post to my husband who went through that last year. He said it was exactly as he remembered. He is much happier on the machine now as he sleeps so much better. I also sleep much better because his snoring is gone. It will be worth it to eventually get you to a place with more energy – so many things to make!

    P.S. Mr. Wishes is quite the romantic to get you a MIG. It’s great to have a guy who gets you!

  6. Kim, I second all these posts about your bravery in sharing this part of your journey with us. Information is power. I know several people who use these and all I hear is positive feedback about their effectiveness so if it turns out this is something you need, I think you’ll feel better for it.

  7. Hi Kim, oh wow, that’s no fun, I know how you’ve been feeling, we went through sleep issues most of last year with our lil boy Tully. He had such large tonsils that he had sleep apnea. I can remember the night he had to have this sleep test, the wires took hours to put on themselves and he hardly slept as well. He is all back to normal sleeping now, eventually they took his tonsils out in October and all is good again. I wish you well and I’m sure they’ll find an answer for you. Interrupted sleep patterns are certainly no fun and not great for your long term health so stay positive and you’ll be sleeping like an angel again in now time. Lxxx

  8. Pingback: pink houses | snippets from 3 Wishes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s