Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sleep. So good.

For the past two nights, Marci and the kids have been gone, off to visit their parents/grandparents who are visiting here at Lake Chelan. (Read it slow, it does make sense). So, while they've been away, it's been nothing but partying and hedonism for me, right? Uh, no. I've actually also spent the past two nights away from home, in a foreign bed... with all sorts of wires and electrodes fastened to me. That's right! I've been participating in a Sleep Study!!

A few months ago, I went to a free seminar about sleep. Marci's complained for years that I snore and, since the meeting was free, I figured, what the heck. When I got there, I was the youngest person in the room by probably 15 years. There was some interesting info to be had, and, long story short, I pursued it further.

Fast forward to the past two nights. I set it up so that I'd be gone when the family would be gone. Each night, I'd come home, make some sorry ass dinner, take a shower and shave (per the clinic's request) and head for Issaquah.

At the clinic, I checked in and was taken to a small 15' x 15' room with attached bath/shower. The room had a full bed, LCD tv on the wall, and a phone. It wasn't fancy, but it was pretty comfortable. My technician, Earl (bald guy with a goatee), told me to kick back and hang out for a bit and he'd be in to wire me up shortly. So I kicked back and hung out and watched some relaxing History Channel show about the making of the atomic bomb, AKA Project X.

Earl came in and had all the bedside manner of a mute. He didn't talk a lot and, since he was a big boy, breathed hard. He had me sit in a chair and proceeded to rub what felt like fine grit sandpaper soaked with rubbing alcohol on parts of my face. Apparently that was to "score" the skin to allow the electrodes to adhere better. At the end of it all, 30 minutes later, I had the following attached to me:
  • 3 electrodes on my scalp, stuck to my luxurious locks by what felt like greasy rubber cement.
  • 1 electrode on the center of my forehead.
  • 1 electrode behind each ear.
  • 1 electrode on either temple.
  • 1 electrode on my chin.
  • 1 electrode under my chin.
  • 1 electrode near my right shoulder.
  • 1 electrode to the left of my belly button.
  • 2 electrodes on each shin.
  • 2 straps going around my torso.
  • 1 strap holding a device to my belly.
  • 1 thimble like thing on my left index finger.
  • 1 something or other in my nose to measure my breathing.

Boo! Did those pictures scare you?

Anyway, after getting wired up for the first night, I slept. Went to bed about 10:30, was woken up at 6:45 the following day. It was pretty uneventful save for the fact I woke up several times during the night because of all the freakin' wires.

The second night was much like the first, only I had a guy named Keith setting me up. He was much more personable than Earl and, as you can see in the pictures above, he actually did the wiring with some neatness (Earl's wiring job was much more tangly). Keith was also deaf in one ear. Neat!

Evidently, according to the charts taken from my first night's sleep, I had 317 episodes of apnea (when breathing stops) over the course of 8 hours sleep. Each episode is measured only if I stop breathing for 10 seconds or more. My average apnea time was 23 seconds, with a long of 53 seconds. Basically, for every hour of sleep, my brain was having to wake my body to breathe about 45 times. This meant that though I may have slept 8 hours, my brain didn't get 8 hours. So, it's not good. Luckily, though, because I'm young and so damn fit, it's not as serious as it may be for someone who's say, 55 and 50 pounds overweight.

Last night, I slept without anything in my nose, but had something over my nose. It was a mask connected with a device called a CPAP (which I forget what it stands for, but part of it stands for Continuous Airflow and something or other). What this device does is blow moistened air into your face (nose) and force your airway to stay open and clear, which all but eliminates snoring and sleep apnea. Here. Take a look!

Needless to say, it's pretty ungraceful and a bit uncomfortable, but, through the course of last night, it did its job. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't too weird to get used to. I fell asleep fairly quickly and actually slept better than the night previous.

So now ball's in my court. I have to follow up with insurance and get a CPAP. This apnea thing is basically something I have to deal with the rest of my life. It's not a killer, yet. I've lived with this for at least 15 years (I can remember falling asleep in classes in high school and I pretty much slept my way through college) and thought being tired was normal. Well, if I'm STOPPING BREATHING at night, that's pretty bad. And getting up after 6-7 hours and still feeling exhausted kind of sucks. So, my hope is that I can get more restful sleep, not keep Marci up with snoring and breath stoppages, and be less tired during the day. I'll keep you posted on these super exciting developements as they come.