On Slowing Down: The Sleep Apnea Test

So I’ve not been sleeping that well, which doesn’t surprise my wife, because I’ve taken up snoring here lately, and she finds it more than a little irritating — as in so irritating that she’s nearly broken my ribs punching me to roll over and stop snoring!  We tried the nasal strip things (“No pest strips”) and they helped. But not enough.

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.

This isn't me, but it about the same rigging, except I had a second set of sensors up my nostrils

This isn't me, but it about the same rigging, except I had a second set of sensors up my nostrils

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.

Well, thanks to a very cool Olympic torch lighting ceremony, I finally get distracted enough to get a little tired, despite having about 5 pounds of wires attached to my scalp, the world’s most uncomfortable hospital pillows (the ones made of hard, stiff rubber), a red light taped to my left forefinger, and a video camera pointed at me. And, much to my amazement, I fall asleep.

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!

I took a couple of sleeping pills and, much, much later, sort of slept.

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.”

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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5 Responses to On Slowing Down: The Sleep Apnea Test

  1. Alan says:

    It's at times like this that it would be nice to be able to fast forward time to a point where all the misery is over. Sorry to hear about your trauma!

  2. Erin says:

    That sounds kind of awful actually. . . I guess you'd rather be moving Tyler in instead huh? I'm glad you don't have sleep apnea though and won't have to wear the cpap. As for the surgery and the cotton balls. . . well I'll be there with narcotics in hand! Just let me know, Dad!

  3. Ew sorry!

    I had the deviated septum surgery and I'm very glad that I did. It's really not that bad. 🙂

  4. David says:

    I was tested a few years back for sleep apnea. I had a heart/double transplant a number of years ago and the meds can cause this condition. I too tested Ok but was at risk for developing it later. I told the doctor that honestly even if I had it I'm not sleeping with one of those contraptions on my head. He got this serious look on his face and warned me I could very easily die in my sleep. I told him; look doc I had a lung transplant. There are a lot of very painful and slow ways for me to die. Quite franlky, dying in my sleep sounds like a pretty good deal.

  5. Pingback: On Slowing Down: The Second Sleep Apnea Test « One In Jesus.info

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