Monday, July 4, 2011

The Results are In!

You all may remember this freaky lovely photo of moi.

That was taken when I slept in a lab overnight to see if I had sleep apnea. (If you missed that exciting post, read about it here.)

When I had visited the neurologist, he told me that two appointments would be set up with the lab: the first one I would be hooked up to all kinds of monitors, and then they would evaluate the test results. The second time sleeping in the lab would be virtually the same, except that I would be hooked up to a CPAP  (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) machine to help me breathe.

The CPAP machine provides pressurized air through tubing to a nasal mask or nasal pillows, which are fitted around the head. The forced air opens the patient's throat and breathing passages, allowing them to breathe normally while asleep.

During my first appointment, Ivan-the-tech said that not many of the patients have to come back for a second visit (to sleep in the lab). I didn't think to question him as to why that was; I just did a happy dance in my head thinking I wouldn't have to come back.

Apparently Ivan was wrong.

The lab called with the test results a few days after my first visit. I had 20-30 "sleeping events" per hour. "Sleeping Events" could be that I either a) stopped breathing, b) held my breath, or c) had shallow breathing. I guess 25 or more events per hour is considered severe sleep apnea.

Well, well, well.

I guess my family was right when they said that I was a horrendous snorer.

AND this proves what I've said all along.

That my husband is losing his hearing.

Either that or he has a heart of gold.

(Probably it's a little of both.)

ANYSNORE, lucky me, I had to go back for a SECOND sleep study at the lab. Yipee! This time, being hooked up to the same monitors as before, but now to a CPAP machine.

I had the option of a full mask to cover both my nose and mouth, or just my nose. The thought of wearing a full mask made my heart race and I felt claustrophobic.

I had visited my friend, Barb, just a few days prior to the study. Barb has been on a CPAP machine for years. She showed me that she used "nasal pillows", that fit inside the nostrils, and aren't as cumbersome as a full mask.

Barb and I had a good laugh at the various sizes available, as the kit she used sent about 8 different ones, from ape-like down to extra small. Barb used an extra small and felt that I was probably the same size.

So when the tech (Sarah) questioned me on what I would like to wear, I replied, "Nasal pillows", sounding like I knew what the heck I was talking about. Sarah came back with two sets in her hand. One looked honking big and my eyes grew large when I saw that she was going to try and shove them up my nose. As she got closer she said, "Oh, no, these are too big for you! You must be an extra small!"

I sighed in relief.

But too soon. The extra small STILL seemed big. These are not like when you see someone on oxygen and they have two little things sticking partway into their nose. These things fit IN YOUR NOSE. They STRETCH YOUR NOSTRILS OPEN.

So it looked something like this.

But that ain't me, and I wasn't smiling!

Sarah put the machine on low so I could get used to it. It literally took my breath away! Did you ever stand in front of a fan that is blowing full force and try to talk? This is how it felt. I opened my mouth and air rushed out. I gasped for breath. Sarah said, "Keep your mouth shut and just breath in and out through your nose only."

Breathing in wasn't a was the breathing out that was causing me to panic. I felt like there was no where for the air to go with the big "pillows" shoved up my nose.

Remember that old TV series, "Welcome Back, Kotter" starring Gabe Kaplan and John Travolta?

One of the famous sayings from that show was, "Up your nose with a rubber hose!"

Probably one of the writers had sleep apnea.

Anyway, I digress.

It took me about 20 minutes to get used to both the nasal pillows AND the air blowing up my nose. I got over my panicked feeling by lying down and reading my book. During the night Sarah increased the force of air with any sleeping event. Eventually it was kicked up to high. I woke up having to go to the bathroom, and the mask must have slipped somewhat, because the forced air was blowing right into my face. There was no way that I was going to fall asleep with it on full blast. I called out to Sarah that I had to use the restroom and she came in. She handed me the portable monitor so that I could use the bathroom, and when I returned, she fixed the mask. It indeed had slipped. I told her that I couldn't sleep with the air so high and she assured me that she would turn it down.

That was a 4:00 am.

At 5:40 am Sarah came to wake me up. I was hoping that I would feel totally refreshed from being on the machine, but I did not. But to be fair, I wasn't sleeping in my own bed, AND I was hooked up to a lot of stuff so I was NOT comfortable.

After the lab analyzed the second night's results they gave me a call. They said that I would benefit from using a CPAP machine and we set up an appointment for me to come in DURING THE DAY to pick up a machine and learn how to use it.

I know that there are people who would a) not even go through with the study, or b) go through the study and not follow up. But as much as I don't like the idea of sleeping with a machine, I know that sleep apnea can cause strokes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation.

So you'd better believe that I will get used to sleeping with the CPAP.

Besides, if I have to go to bed wearing a Darth Vader mask, maybe this will mean I'll see more of Jim's laser sword! *wink*


Cheeseboy said...

Haha, Pat, you had me laughing all the way through this post. Especially the rubber hose gag.

I do hope that I never have to go through this. I highly doubt I could sleep with people just watching me, let alone with all that crap hooked up to me.

Sara Chapman said...

My sister uses one of the machines and swears by it. She feels far more energetic these days. Good for you for taking care of your health.

Gail said...

Love the new header!!

I read CRAP machine a few times, until I finally noticed it was CPAP...I must wear my glasses.

Ruth said...

Oh you are bad bad bad. ;)

And so good. And funny. Always.

Well, I'm sorry and I'm glad for you. It's pretty great to have this technology, for your health. My husband went through all this and got the CPAP machine. But he used it just a few times and could not handle the blast of air. He never figured it out, nor did he go back to get it adjusted. I think he just decided it wasn't for him. So there it sits, gathering dust in the corner. I hope it works great for you.

Tes said...

I admire people who can make light of their troubles! Kudos to you, Pat! Way to go, girl! I learned a lot from this post -and it's not just the medical aspect! *hugs*

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

i'm both sorry and glad for you, Pat.

CPAP looks like a great machine. i'm so sure you'll get used to sleeping with that machine pretty soon!!

i love your great sense of humour, and the ending of your story...was priceless!

betty xx

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

...and your blog header is really awesome!

Mama Zen said...

You are such a funny lady! And, you are totally right about the importance of using the machine. Sleep Apnea can be really dangerous. I'm glad they caught yours.

kisatrtle said...

This sounds like torture...ugh. Hope it all works out

The Tame Lion said...

I need to go to the hospital to stop the laughs.

becky said...

HI Pat,
glad you posted about this... i was concerned! glad you are getting the cpap- you definitely don't want to have any of the "side effects" from not having one, AND hopefully you'll sleep better at home once you get used to it. I'm in Camp Verde AZ over night & then on to san diego.
hey- google "phoenix dust storm..." so glad i didn't keep driving last night!

Donna B said...

Oh Pat...we could have a delicious fit of laughter comparing notes on this experience... I took wear the nasal pillow CPAP machine. I wrote about it too and our experiences were very similar... You will be amazed at the difference in how well you sleep! The pamphlet they gave me said sleep apnea, left untreated, can result in high blood pressure, diabetes, restless leg syndrome and heart attacks! Good for you!!

SLAYER273 said...

I just got the doctor's notes from my sleep study. I have moderate sleep apnea durning the first 3 stages of sleep and SEVERE during REM Stage. My numbers went as low as 70 and 46 episodes in an hour.
So I have to go back and sleep with the cpap on and hope it works.
At least now I know why I never feel rested.

How much did your insurance pay?