The Sleep Study

This is about how it went down:

DOCTOR: You sound congested.

ME: I am.

DOCTOR: You still have your tonsils?

ME: I do; they’re pretty big. ((I wasn’t bragging or anything, I just have large tonsils, and you know what they say about guys with large tonsils…yeah, me neither.))

DOCTOR: Any trouble sleeping?

ME: No.

DOCTOR: Do you snore?

ME: Yeah.

DOCTOR: I want you to have a sleep study.

Fast forward to last Thursday, 8:45pm. I’m at the Sleep Study Center (or is it the Center for Sleep Studies?) at Lake West Hospital with various parts of my body (mostly my head) hooked up to monitors and a camera watching me as I lie in bed and try not to think about the fact that in order for them ((Yes, “them”. I don’t know who “they” are, but I wouldn’t be at all surprise to learn that at least one of “them” is someone’s Big Brother.)) to study me sleeping I first have to go to sleep.

I’m trying not to think of it because I know what happens: once I make the conscious realization that I have to go to sleep, it becomes nearly impossible for me to actually go to sleep.

Oh, yeah, the wires aren’t helping, either. They’re connected to my forehead, temple, cheek, scalp and chest. There are also straps around my chest, stomach and both ankles, not to mention (my favorite) not one but two separate sensors in my nostrils, taped to my cheeks and looped over my ears. The whole setup is a cross between light bondage gear and Six Million Dollar Man fetish porn. ((Of course it exists! Don’t be naïve!))

Now I’m trying, desperately trying to get to sleep, and that just makes things worse. It’s like the old “don’t think about purple hippopotami” trick: once it starts, you just can’t stop, and that way lies madness. It doesn’t help that even the slightest move is accompanied by a gentle, tugging reminder that a thumb-thick bundle of wires is running from somewhere in the vicinity of my left shoulder to a contraption that resembles the old electronics kits advertised in the back of comic books (“300 experiments in 1!”) and if I manage to yank out one of the leads the nice lady (nurse? technician? engineer? dominatrix?) will have to come in and hook me up again.

Thankfully, that doesn’t happen. Neither does the whole sleeping thing, either, at first.

Did it take me two hours to finally fall asleep? Three? Five? I don’t know, but after tossing and turning for what seemed like the entire night I must have finally drifted off, because I’m almost certain I was asleep when I heard the nice lady call my name.

There are mornings when I wake up at home and don’t recognize my own wife for a few seconds, such is my state of cognitive disarray. I can only imagine the horror that would have resulted from awakening in such a state to find myself wired up like Geneviève Bujold in Coma ((It’s a movie from the 1970s, kids, look it up.)) and staring into the face of a stranger. At least I was wearing cargo shorts and a t-shirt and would have been spared the added indignity of my lily white butt flapping in the breeze as I ran down the corridors of the hospital, screaming in terror and tearing multi-colored wires off my face.

Thankfully, I was well aware of my surroundings when I heard the nice lady call my name and we were all spared the drama. I was also very tired. On a scale of 1 to 10, I gave the night a 3, only because it was very quiet and at no point did a raving lunatic with a nailgun and a cattle prod break down the door and kill me. Apart from those two saving graces, it was one of the worst night’s sleep I have ever gotten.

The results, they tell me, will be available in two to three weeks. My single greatest fear is not that I have sleep apnea (I’m pretty sure I don’t) but that they’ll tell me there was a minor technical snag in the study—that being that I completely failed to actually sleep at any point during the night—and would I mind terribly coming back in and trying again.

I think I’d rather take my chances with the nailgun-wielding lunatic.

18 thoughts on “The Sleep Study”

  1. @blob – I’ve heard the treatment for sleep apnea (the CPAP mask) described into two ways:

    1. The best night’s sleep EVAR!
    2. Like sleeping with a leaf blower strapped to your nose.

    Either way: fun!

  2. My co-worker recently went through a sleep study. She was given the mask, but has yet to use it. From the sounds of it, it’s quite a contraption – something you might have to get used to before getting the best sleep evar.

  3. I am quite disappointed that they did not hook up the “taint” lead. My pulmonology friends tell me that it helps with accuracy… then again, they giggle when they tell me this.

  4. @Karne – Did your co-worker find it any easier to sleep with the various contraptions attached to her face? Did she feel at all like she might wake up fine and then, boom, two hours later she’s got a xenomorph busting out of her chest?

  5. Actually, you are still asleep. Wake up, Neo, you are The One. You must leave the Matrix.

    OK, this definitely qualifies as the most inane thing I’ve ever written. It’s a keeper!

  6. I know I got the Sleep Apnea. No test yet I’m too afraid they’ll tell me I have to quit smoking first then they’ll send me to a anti smoking class for two months just so i can get the patch at co-pay prices then I’ll get the test after months of struggle only to find out that I CAN’T SLEEP WITH THE MACHINE SUCKING ON MY FACE.

  7. I bet that my tonsils were bigger. That is before they were removed. How’s your uvula? I have less than half of mine left.
    I hope that you don’t have to get your tonsils out. I think that we can all remember how much fun I had after my tonsillectomy, adnoidectomy, and uvuloplasty. But I really do sleep better now, so maybe you should…and I hardly ever have nasal congestion…..even if I would want Antonio Banderas to tell me all about Nasonex…

  8. When I had a sleep test, it didn’t seem like I ever went to sleep. Maybe that is why the result came back that negative.

    You gave me a good reason to quit smoking and then schedule another test. It would be nice to know for sure if it is a problem, or not.

    Good night 🙂

  9. @Al – Quitting smoking is always a good thing, regardless of your motivation, so if I played even a small part in that I’m pleased. Good luck with the test!

  10. I went for a routine physical. Complained of no symptons but because my neck was bigger than 17 inches he thought i should get the study to make sure.. I didn’t fall asleep until after 3:30 and slept until 6. The clown technician came in and told me that remarkebly I didn’t have any apneas.
    How could you sleep..1st I had to wear clothes. 2 I was on the shittiest bed, firm sheets. 3. I sleep with a fan no fan. 4 the nostril sensors whistle when you breath. 5. I couldn’t watch the TV to go to bed. 6. When i can’t sleep the option of rubbing one out was not available. 7. The camera has a red ring around it just staring at your. 8. The room was 80 degrees. 9. The guy spent 55 minutes hooking me up explaining why i had it and everything that was wrong with me because of it. I usually fall right a sleep, The only one who could sleep in that lab is someone who is sleep deprived.

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