On Slowing Down: The Second Sleep Apnea Test

Well, it’s been an interesting last few days. After my miserable sleep apnea test, the sleep technician who watched me sleep all night (that must have been great fun) assured me I didn’ t have sleep apnea — which was good news because I couldn’t bear the thought of having to go back to that place to be re-tested — which is what happens if you actually have sleep apnea.

A few days later, a nurse called to tell me that I indeed did have sleep apnea, a mild case, and she scheduled me to come back for a second sleep study. Yuck! In this study, they’d put a CPAP machine on me and see whether I can tolerate it and what settings work best for me.

So I asked my friend Allen, who’s been through this all before, what the second test would be like, and in all sincerity, he assured me that it was much, much worse than the first! He tried to comfort me, assuring me that in two or three weeks, I’d be fine with the new equipment. This was not comforting at all. I told Allen that I didn’t have any of these problems before I’d met him and so I figured I caught sleep apnea from him.

This is me with CPAP stuck up my nose and monitoring wires hooked up everywhere

You see, for sleep apnea, they hook a hose to your nose that blows air up your nostrils. And it’s about as pleasant as it sounds. And with my claustrophobia, I anticipated the second test with nothing but dread.

Oh, and once again, our house was being shown the next day, so my wife made it quite clear that once she’d cleaned up behind me, I was not to come home. She said if I couldn’t finish the test, I should rent a hotel room. Of course, our town (Tuscaloosa, Alabama) was full of football fans here for the Tulane game and hurricane evacuees (the gyms in town hold thousands!). The nearest empty hotel room is probably in Kentucky.

Friday night I arrived for my test. This time I brought my pillows from home, which are much better than the stone pillows the hospital provides. (They made a huge difference. The other patients in the waiting room, seeing the pillows, looked at me with envy.)

When I got there, it turned out that my room hadn’t been cleaned, and so I had to wait for housekeeping to scrub it down — with something I’m allergic to, as I spent the next hour wheezing and sneezing.

Finally, around 10:00, the sleep tech hooked me up to the air hose and began blowing air up my nose. And I found inhaling very easy. It’s just that I couldn’t exhale, which was a problem. So she fiddled with something and I found that the hose could now work both ways and everything was cool … until she suggested that I talk.

When you talk with a CPAP on, the air blows up your nose and out your mouth, which is a very strange and disorienting sensation. And your tongue doesn’t work right because it’s not used to dealing with gale-force air blowing over it from your nose. So talking was really quite out of the question. (My wife will not be happy, as she expects me to be able to answer questions in bed.)

But I had no claustrophobia, could breathe just fine (better than normal actually), and drifted off to sleep. I did wake up a couple of times due to the air pressure being so great I couldn’t exhale against it — not the most pleasant way to wake up! But evidently the sleep tech was able to get things adjusted, and I think I slept pretty well otherwise.

The next morning, I woke up, feeling pretty good (despite having this machine stuffed up my nose), and the sleep tech assured me that I’d not snored once all night … good news indeed for the wife.

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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2 Responses to On Slowing Down: The Second Sleep Apnea Test

  1. kris says:

    That exact same thing happened to me with my first test. The tech said I didn't have any apneas, but the doctor said I had severe OSA. I never stopped breathing or lost oxygen, but I snored and woke up 58 times/hour. I basically never got to sleep good and wasn't going into a good REM state.

    I did get used to the equipment. It was super depressing at first that I even had to use this thing, but I really love it now and can't stand to sleep without it. I feel tons better and rested each morning.

    I liken it to getting used to wearing a seat belt. It was cumbersome at first, but then later I felt like I was missing something if I didn't wear it.

    I tell everyone who snores now to get one. Who knew how deadly snoring could be? My dad snores horribly even after getting really skinny. I'll have it the rest of my life most likely. Maybe a physical cure will come in the future rather than the "band-aid" of a CPAP. Until then the CPAP really isn't so bad. It looks way worse than it is.

  2. kris says:

    Oh, I forgot. They make masks that fit over your nose. Very comfortable gel mask. I wouldn't like the up the nose thing either. Ask for the Comfort Gel Mask. You get to pick for the most part.

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