And so I went to an ENT doctor. Now, I put this off as long as I could, because I figured he’d say I have a deviated septum. I’m not sure what that is, but everyone I know who’s been to an ENT doctor comes back with one, leading to lots of blood and cotton stuffed up their noses. And I’m a little claustrophobic, so the idea of having bloody cotton stuffed up my nose is, well, my idea of hell. I have no doubt that if I don’t make it to the new heaven and new earth, God will send me somewhere where they stuff my nose shut and send me through MRI machines for all eternity, because that’s just the worse thing imaginable!
So I saw the ENT doctor and in about 5 seconds he determined that I’m a candidate for sleep study for possible sleep apnea. And the cure for sleep apnea is this box you wear on your face which blows air up your nose – which is great for everyone except those with (you guessed it!) claustrophobia. And so off I went to the sleep study at 8:30 last night.
Meanwhile, my wife is out of town and we’re showing the house to hopefully be sold, so she left it in perfect order, meaning I’m not allowed in until after the showing, as I’m apparently the angel of chaos or something. And so if the sleep study doesn’t work out, well, I’ve got no place to go.
The sleep study room is a hospital room with a wide screen, hi def TV showing the Olympic opening ceremonies, so this is very cool, I think. I can sit on the bed with a remote and watch the show. And, I figure, about the time the march of the nations gets to Zambia, I’ll be bored into sleep, no problem.
And then the sleep technician comes in with a rat’s nest of wires and tubes and commences to attach them to every body part I have — the hairier, the better and the more adhesive she wants to use. Tomorrow morning, she says, she’ll be pulling hair off everything I have!
She connects electrodes to my legs, my chest, my throat, and about a dozen to my head. She puts straps around my chest and gut, and then she puts some kind of wire sensor just outside both nostrils to tell if I’m breathing — and now it’s getting a little claustrophic, but not that bad. I can handle this, I think.
But then she wraps a plastic tube around my head and under my nose and sticks tubes up each nostril! And this is too much. I tell her I just can’t sleep (as in, can’t exist) with tubes stuck up my nose, and she assures me I’ll get used to it. I assure her I won’t in this lifetime.
But an hour later, I wake up, very uncomfortable, and with my adrenalin levels low, my body and my brain are screaming at me to yank all these tubes out of my nose — the fight or flight instinct completely takes hold.
Except I can’t run, because I’ve got every hair on my body glued to a million wires that are attached to some very heavy equipment.
So the sleep tech comes in, tells me to either suck it up or go home, and I can’t go home, so I suck it up, that meaning I lay down and pray for God to take my soul right now! I mean, even if I don’t make it to heaven, an eternity in the lake of fire can’t be worse than trying to sleep with tubes up my nose on pillows made of concrete. Death would be a no-lose option!
So at 6:00, after a night of fitful, frequently interrupted sleep, the sleep tech woke me up, leaving me about, oh, 4 hours short of sleep, I think. She assured me the test was over, and asked me how I felt. I wanted to say I felt like a man the first day after a million-year stay in Purgatory! I was ready to run out of the building — I mean literally RUN out of the building — until I saw all the goo and mess she’d covered me in to attach the 5 pounds of wires. I needed a shower in a bad way.
And then she told me that I’d had no apneas and likely wouldn’t need a CPAP machine. HOORAY! I’d be getting surgery instead. Yep — weeks of cotton stuffed up my nose. Un-hooray.
[The rig pictured above is about what I had, except better. The finger sensor is to measure blood oxygen levels, and requires a continuously glowing red light. The bundle of wires he has on his belly hung lose from my scalp. In fact, I was awakened when another patient’s alarm went off, and the tech literally laid the nest of wires on my pillow, with the connection box, and expected to lie down on the mess to sleep!
I explained that I just couldn’t do this, and so she stuffed the box — about 6″ x 9″ — under the pillow!! I mean, a 1 1/2″ thick pillow isn’t going to hide that monster.
The two bands wrapped around him measure breathing. They want to know if your lungs try to breathe and no airs goes in your nose. The electrodes on his head (mine were glued on) are an EEG sort of thing.]
Coming soon: “Hard Decisions: Do I Do the Surgery or Let My Wife Leave Me Because of My Snoring? Loss of Love, Damnation, and Financial Ruin vs. Letting a Doctor Stuff Cotton Up My Nose.”