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.
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.