OMG – I had an overnight sleep study done to see if I had any sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Duke Health is awesome and they did a great job but it was a very surreal experience and I don’t want to ever do it again.
First of all, my doctor ordered a sleep test because I was having trouble losing weight. I am also in menopause, I had situational depression, I am 53, I have high blood pressure, etc. I am carrying 225 lbs on a 5.2 frame and most of my fat is around my middle. My arms and legs are not enormously fat. So yeah, I’m not a picture of health. My heart is good as I walk often but I’m not a poster girl for athletic wear. LOL Even though I only have a couple of symptoms like snoring and waking at night she wanted me to do the study to “eliminate” apnea so we could look at other factors.
First, I had an at home sleep study which was a joke. I’m not sure why it was through Rex instead of Duke but COVID so whatever. It was just this belt that went on my chest above my breasts, a stick on oximeter and a nasal cannula. While I got an explanation on how to put all this on, no one talked to me about what they were measuring. When I tried to turn on the “machine” there were no batteries in it so I had to scramble to find some around the house. How accurate is this machine running on 2 AA batteries? I struggled with the tubes and in my sleepiness I may or may not have turned it on and off? A few days after turning in the supplies I got a message saying I had SEVERE sleep apnea and I should get a CPAP immediately or die. Okay, so it was not in those exact words but I felt that this was not a very scientifically accurate test so I had my doctor order an overnight one in a real lab.
This time I was scheduled with Duke and there was certainly a LOT of science involved. Here I am with all the wires:
I had a lovely young tech who let me nervously prattle on and one while he marked my scalp with a grease pencil, scrub spots on my face so he could adhere stuff and stick on all sort of things on my chest and legs. This was JUST for apnea. If you were being testing for narcolepsy it would be another hour of prep. No lie! He patiently answered all my questions and told me everything that it will monitor. No, I don’t remember much about it because I was anxious. However, I felt that this was some serious science to I decided to just trust the process.
The sleep lab was in some old hotel that has been a part of Duke Hospital forever. I think families of patients can stay here for a reduced price or something I’m not sure. I mean, not on the sleep lab floor – on other floors. LOL 4th floor is dedicated to the sleep lab.
I have a confession to make. I am a hotel snob. Or maybe I’m a neurotic traveler. Either way I HATE old hotels and I hate old smells and old furniture. Billy Bob Thornton and I have something in common – we don’t like antiques in our house. Old stuff creep me out and of course my room had some old bed:
While the room was obviously clean, it still had a “it used to be a smoking hotel” smell to it and there was a fan going because I guess the ac was not working well? The sheets were soft and immaculate and I of course brought my own pillow. The mattress was too soft but was of good quality. I put lavender oil on my pillow and on my pulse points so I could smell that instead of the stuffiness.
There were only two high back chairs to “relax” in so I settled into one and watched Netflix on my phone to pass the time. I reported in at 7:30 but I would not be allowed to sleep until 10:00 PM. I would normally sit in a recliner and play some Animal Crossing in the living room and then go to bed at the latest around 9pm so this was certainly not a part of my routine. I sat and sat until my back screamed at me. Then I sat on the bed and watched some Youtube videos. My latest obsession is this hilarious comedian: https://www.youtube.com/c/CharlotteDobre
As promised, around 10 pm I was “tucked in” as the tech made sure all connections were sound and I had not unplugged anything. There were a LOT of anythings that could come undone so this was no small feat. I was already yawning so I thought, “I’ve got this in the bag”. He said I had to turn off my Rain sounds for sleep I had planned to play all night. Damn it. So I am lying in a strange room, in my Conjuring bed with wires coming out of me like Frankenstein’s monster. I know there are cameras everywhere so I am trying to not scratch my vag which made me itchy of course. LOL There are microphones everywhere so I suppress a need to fart. It was no small feat, I kid you not!
I lie there, and lie there and lie there on my back. I’m a side sleeper but he did ask me to lie on my back for a bit. He comes over the speaker to do some checks. Blink your eyes x times for me. blink blink blink. great. Now open your eyes and keep them open for 10 seconds. open open open. good job. Now without moving your head look to your left (in pitch dark) now without moving your head look to the right now without moving your head look up. . .etc. It was monotone like those ride operators at amusement parks. Please keep your hands and your feet inside at all times enjoy your ride on Thunder Road – that kind of thing.
OF COURSE I COULD NOT FALL ASLEEP ARE YOU F*@CKING KIDDING ME????
He told me I could sleep on my side when I wanted to so I carefully rolled over to my side and sighed as I settled into deep breathing for sleeping. The lights switched on and he whisked in. “I’m sorry I need to fix something”. He tightened stuff and tucked here and there. I again tried to sleep. It was not happening and I knew I was not allowed to play with my phone again. I turned to the other side. The lights switched on and he whisked in. “I’m sorry I need to fix something”. He tightened stuff and tucked here and there. I again tried to sleep. Sometime later I rolled over on my back. Yup, you guessed it: The lights switched on and he whisked in. “I’m sorry I need to fix something”. He tightened stuff and tucked here and there. This time though, he also had to rescrub and reposition something on my forehead. I’m not sure how much time has passed but I’m really sleepy and not comfortable and I hate everything. I mean, not the tech – he is a sweetheart. This shit better be worth it I mutter to myself. I “think” I fell asleep?
Then the nightmares began. Yes, I dream. Yes, I have nightmares but this was a whole new level Stephen King style slew of one after the other. I had the jerking awake nightmare, the I think I’m awake oh but no, it’s just a dream only to wake up in another dream nightmare. I had a night terror. My PVC went nuts. It was torture. Finally at 5 am he woke me up to say, good job! You did sleep some. I felt like I had ZERO sleep. He ripped off all the stuff and I slicked my medical goo hair back, threw on my clothes and drove home so I could shower in a non haunted room.
The tech gave me my shower mantra – conditioner lather rinse condition lather rinse then shampoo and rinse. I followed it exactly and everything came out no problems. I stayed an extra 10 minutes in the shower to wipe away any spirits that might be attached to me (JK I don’t believe in any of that but just in case). I put on fresh clothes and thought I would crash into my brand new adjustable comfy bed and go to sleep but of course I did not. I prattled to my poor barely awake husband and then did stuff.
After lunch I nearly passed out on my way to the bed and took a delicious 3 hour nap. GLORIOUS. I knew it would mess up my night’s sleep but I.DID.NOT.CARE! And yes, I could not go to bed until 11:30 and only lightly slept but it was worth it, people!
By Monday morning I finally felt like myself. I don’t say normal because well, I’m not and I will probably never be. I told myself in 7-10 days they will give me results that will make this nightmare worth it. I hope so. Of course now, I sit around thinking, what if they find out I’m just crazy? What if they find a tumor – I KNOW they can’t with this test but you know, it’s my agitated anxious inner voice okay?
I have always struggled with sleep since I was a kid. Mother said that she would come home from work late at night and the babysitters would be deeply asleep and I would be laying on the floor playing with my toes and cooing perfectly content. I slept on average of 4 hours per night in high school while I worked a 30 hour a week job while maintaining a straight A average and winning a full college scholarship. In college I started experiencing sleep paralysis and was diagnosed with night terrors. So sleep disorders are not a new thing to me. I am curious what they will discover. Can I just say though, that the sleep I got the past few days felt heavenly compared to my night of torture at the sleep study? Just sayin’.