Are you sleeping yet? Apnea study, cont’d.

Okay, I am now wired up from head to toe, in a strange bed, with a little red light on my fingertip… and I’m supposed to fall asleep. First of all, I’m used to sleeping on my side, curled up, and being flat on my back is strange. Secondly, I somehow managed to get in bed very near the edge (although it was a nice big double bed) and I had the strange feeling that I might fall out of bed. Just go to sleep!

I tried mental games (“My name is Annie, my husband’s name is Al, we live in Alabama and we sell apples…) but it seemed that it was a long time before I could sleep. Each time I was concious of being awake again, I told myself sternly to go back to dreamland. I remember seeing the full moon in the transom over the window, and wishing I could nod off again. I stayed in that spot, flat on my back with the strange mask and hose connecting me to the control room like an umbilical cord. When Mark boomed a hearty “Good Morning” at 5:30 a.m.  I  just rolled my eyes. I had made it through the night without the complications of a bathroom trip, the worst was over and I was sure it was just my usual sleepness night- with no serious breathing problems. It felt good to get the mask off and even better to get the wires and leads off, but I wanted to crawl back under the covers and go to sleep! One more short set of questions and I was set free. I was sure I would not have to keep the second appointment!

The first thing I did when I got to the car on that really foggy Saturday morning was to drink a whole bottle of water. Then I opened the car windows, cranked up the car stereo, put some minty gum in my morning mouth and headed home. I will admit it seemed like a long drive as I wearily made my back to my house. After trudging up the stairs, to be greeted by my cat companion with yowls of “Where have you been all night,” I made my way through the house to my bed. Forget the gobs of glue in my hair and red sticky circles on my extremities…I needed sleep! The phone rang two hours later and I was still longing for more sleep. What a slug!

When the Sleep Center gal called to tell me I needed to keep my second appointment, I was really surprised. She gave me some scary numbers that got my attention. It seems that it had taken me 44 minutes to fall asleep that night, and when I did I didn’t sleep soundly. She told me I had stopped breathing in light sleep an average of 22 times an hour, and in REM sleep it jumped to 43 times an hour! My blood oxygen was below 90% for a considerable time and it dropped as low as 79% at one point! The optimal oxygen saturation level is 95-100. No wonder I was so absolutely tired!!! As bad as that sounds, it’s considered “Moderate” Obstructive Sleep Apnea. It can be much, much worse.

It’s very scary to be told you stop breathing at night, and I let myself become very anxious about it until my return appointment. I never thought I had a problem, but now it was official and I was in a hurry to return. Yep, the wires, glue and ET finger suddenly seemed worth it. The wait was hard.

To be continued…

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