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sleep study

January 19, 2013

As a nurse it was always helpful to go through an experience to help me relate to how my patients might feel. Every experience is always different for each person. Even when the same person has to have a repeat of the test, the next time will not be exactly the same. There are a lot of experiences that I’ve never had, and some I don’t want to go through at all. Most of the time the person experiences fear, anxiety, worry, or varying concerns. Even though I’ve never been through the exact experience, I can still relate to those issues.

I had my first sleep study several days ago. My sleep problems started suddenly about 4 years ago. I thought it was odd that I was sleeping fine one night and the next night, I could not sleep, and every night there after. I blamed it on stress, and anticipated it would clear up in due time. It was awful waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning, knowing my alarm was going to go off at 6:30. I’d read, play a game on the computer, and pray; but nothing helped me get back to sleep. I often did not get to bed until midnight. That meant I got only 3-4 hours of sleep.

I have chronic pain which nothing has helped so far. My doctor ordered a sleep study to see if a lack of oxygen was contributing to my pain. I followed the pre-procedure directions which were rather easy as there was little to do. I packed my bag, including my medication, toothbrush, and 2 books; and headed to the center. My husband checked to see what time he needed to pick me up. The directions said the test would be over at 5:15 am. Great! What if I’m sleeping? They finish work at 6:00, so I have to be out the door by then.

Christine was really nice as she hooked me up. My first worry was how I was going to sleep with all those wires. She “glued” the leads to my head. (I’m still trying to wash it all out.) You gotta have strong neck muscles to keep holding your head up! I had straps across both ankles, my stomach and upper chest. Those leads were connected to a little box on the lower strap, threaded under the upper strap and went to a larger box. I had a pulse ox meter well taped to my finger so that I could not bend it. Another strap was wrapped around my neck. That one really bothered me. I don’t like things tight around my neck. It was not tight, but… Christine put a nasal cannula in my nose, followed by dual slender metal probes behind it. I near panicked. “Is all that going to fit in my nose?” She said it would. Normally, my nose tickles and runs. It behaved all night.

I had planned to read awhile before going to sleep. It was only 9:30 by the time she finished. However, the lamp was on a table on the other side of the bed. There was no way I was going to be able to turn off the light. I hoped I would be able to fall asleep that early especially with all the cables.

I slept well until about 12:30 am, needing to use the restroom. All you have to do is call her name. I felt silly talking to the air. She responded quickly. It does take another person to help because of the wires. Do I need to tell you how difficult if was to wash my hands? After completing that little chore I was wide awake. I asked if I could read, so she left the desk light on. I figured when I was done reading I would sleep with my back to the light. There was no way I was going to try to turn it off. I no sooner rolled over than a soft voice from the ceiling asked me if I wanted her to turn off the light.

I left the BR door open this time. I had the usual crazy dreams, frequently disturbed by scurrying noises in the corner of the room, and the flushing of the toilet by my neighbor. When I had to use the restroom again, I was sleepy and figured it was probably around 2 or 3. It surprised me when Christine said it was 4:45 and she was going to take off the leads.

Taking off the leads took almost as long as it did to put them on. When removing tape from an elderly person’s skin you have to be careful. Christine pulled the tape off my neck the same way she did everywhere else. I saw my neck skin as it stretched out a foot or two. Seriously, it was not that bad, but I’m still wearing a red abrasion 3 days later.

Truthfully, it was not a bad experience. I found out that I snore loudly and do have periods of apnea (not breathing). The rest I’ll have to get from my doctor. I learned to always shut the BR door to cut down on noise. Most importantly, change in the BR. Christine had told me there was a camera in the bedroom to observe me. I took my clothes off in the BR, but had left my nightgown on the bed. I paraded out to retrieve it.

Oh, well, I guess they’ve seen naked fat ladies before.

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