Monday, October 15, 2012

What Dreams are made of

Thursday night, I was subjected to what will be the first (of probably a few) sleep studies thanks to my Dr. Now, I knew this was coming, for weeks in fact, but somehow the very idea of it slipped my mind until day of.

And then, all hell broke loose.

Ok first let me back track...I have always had sleep issues. My entire family does actually...except my little sister who can (and does) sleep literally, it's not odd or uncommon for me to go days without sleeping, or sleep very very little.

It's not that I don't sleep either...I do. But I have very vivid (and often nightmarish  dreams that leave me in a constant state of being tired. I feel like I was up working/running/doing when I do sleep...which really isn't much of a surprise if you know how terrible I am at stopping from working/running/doing in my waking life.

So here we are, day of study and my brain takes over with all the "what if?" of having to go through this. And trust me, I can think of some very, very disturbing scenarios. Of course it doesn't help that I have been known to talk & walk in my sleep too and I'll have people WATCHING ME SLEEP.

The first thought is what if I get hungry? I can't sleep if I'm hungry. (Please note, at this point all logic has now left my brain building)...What if they won't let me eat? I don't keep cash on me so even if they DO let me eat, I won't have change for vending machine food (which I don't like anyway but illogical brain won't listen)...and I'm thinking all of this while gorging myself on sushi, knowing that I can have breakfast the next morning but totally convinced I will somehow starve to death between the hours of 7pm -7am.

I've also convinced myself that i'll need an extra layer of clothes...this is disconcerting since I sleep naked usually and now, not only do I have to wear pajamas but underwear. Full set. Yeah.

To save you the trouble there was also:

  • Being watched entirely all night long by the camera in the room
  • Saying/doing something in my sleep to cause embarrassment
  • Not being allowed to move/strapped into the bed with electrodes
  • Not being allowed to have anything to drink 
  • Not being allowed to leave
  • ETC.

By the time I actually get to the hospital, I have a bag packed with just about everything imaginable to get me through the next 12 hours and enough Xanax to dose all the nurses if I have to make an escape. I'm fairly certain that if I can use the strap of my bag as a makeshift sling shot, I can launch them into their open mouths, and run. Of course this plain somewhat fails when I realize, I should probably just take the damn pills myself. So I take one and sign in, seating myself in the corner and cowering behind a book. It will look like I'm reading and not terrified. Right, because the eyes-as-big-as-dinner-plates doesn't give me away at-freaking-all.

Then, I notice that I'm the youngest person awaiting the fate of our sleep study attendants to come and get us. Uh oh. I don't mean by a few years...I mean by decades. We're retrieved and asked to walk single file, down the longest hall in the history of any hospital. Seriously, I think Sam and Frodo made it to get rid of that damn ring faster. One of the guys behind me is already asking for a wheelchair and dude brought a mini-cooler! This does not help my panic. I'm guessing if one of the octogenarians that I'm to be spending the night with drops dead, at least we are at the hospital. If it's wheelchair dude, dibs on the mini cooler.

Our attendents split us off into groups and put us in rooms to ourselves...which is a great relief because one of my fears is that I'll be sleeping in a big room with other people and therefor subjected to more bodies/eyes/witnesses.
Torture...err..sleep room
Instead I end up here. Which looks all nice, until you notice that it smells funky. Not hospital, antiseptic funny...musty mildewing funny. And then theres the fact that it's barely a concealed hospital room equipment. Uh huh. I'd have slept better if you made it what it is...a hospital room.

So I'm told to settle in and my nurse, Lynn, will be back to hook me up for the night. Notice those long wires across the bed? Yeah...that's what she means. so I do the only logical thing I can think of. I hide all my assumed contraband (snacks, water, meds) with my back to the camera that I'm sure is watching my every move, hide in the bathroom and change into 2 layers of clothes and try to act all chill and watch tv.

Which, by the way, I can't figure out how to work. Neither can Lynn, so I don't feel completely stupid. Ok, I do feel completely stupid but she works here for chrissake, so I'm at least a step up!

There are no towels in the room...or the bathroom..or soap. Damn. The one thing I didn't prepare for. I ask for water and I get a cup small enough to give to a child. Which just makes me more thirsty. So now, not only do I have to wipe wet hands on my PJ's when I wash them without soap (EW), but I'm going to have to repeatedly fill my miniscule glass up at the bathroom sink. I try not to think of what the pipes must look like if the room smells this way.

Lynn comes back at has me drop electrodes down my pants (not like that, you pervs!) and then starts attaching things everywhere...and I do mean everywhere. I didn't freak when the belt strapped around my upper chest, or even around my waist..or the elctrodes that went into my hair with some icky gel substance. But the one on my chin and neck nearly made me come undone. Meanwhile, Lynn is chattering away and I'm practically sitting on my hands to keep from ripping every wire off and running out the door.

Yep. I can totally see how this is going to be restful.

Lynn leaves me to rest with the instructions that I cannot lay on the bed (apparently the pretty covers and pillows are decorative not make me think of when they were washed last. please.) and comes back in about 30 mins to "strap me in for the night". Turns out, theres a nose piece too and that little red ET-esq thing they put on your finger to take your pulse gets taped onto one of my fingers.

Fabulous. Lets hope I don't pick my nose in my sleep. Let's hope the person before me didn't either.

Then Lynn says two things that terrify me more than anything else has.
1. They are planning on keeping me the next day for a series of nap tests....this is to test and see if I'm Narcoleptic (more on this in a moment) if I don't show any apneic events during the night.
2. If I need anything, I can just speak into the room and Lynn will answer me.

1....ummm...What the ever loving fuck!?!?! So if I DON'T stop breathing, I am stuck here? Did ya'll not read my paperwork AT FREAKING ALL?!?! I'm not narcoleptic..I DONT SLEEP...I don't nap unless I'm sick and I am NOT wasting my friday off being in a smelly room with nothing to do for 2 hours only to be told to sleep for 30 mins and woken back up if I do. Again. And Again.

2...Effin Hell, that's creepy as fuck. You're name is not Siri and I don't have an Iphone. Yeah, yeah, I know it's what I'm signed up for but dude...weird. Can't I push a button like a normal hospital room?

And of course I have to test it. Lynn is gone 10 mins when I call her name and sure enough, she answers over the intercom, creeping me the fuck out. What I neglected to find out before she left was I have to call for Lynn each and every time I get out of bed. Lynn, my dear, we are in for a very long night.

The second time I call Lynns name, it's for an entirely different reason. The electrodes behind my ears and under my neck are burning. I'm fairly certain that in my illogical brain head, this means that the wires will catch fire and I will somehow combust. Lynn however tells me, ever so nonchalantly, that the gel they use is abrasive and "we have to remove the 1st layer of skin".

Oh boy. Nighty, Night now!

Lynn is called multiple times during the night and poor dear, has to suffer through my neurosis of having to brush my teeth each time I get up to pee. Which is a lot. By 3am (and the 5th time I called her, I think), Lynn is telling me there are not very many apneic events and can I try to sleep on my back because they occur more often this way. Well sure, even though I never sleep on my back, why the hell not. Because poor Lynn sounds as tired as I am, and a part of me feels bad for her having to sit and watch people like me sleep all night. Which makes me wonder who the hell imagines doing that when they grow up?
"Mommy! I want to watch people sleep at night!" 
"OK little Jimmy, you can either be a sleep apnea tech or a stalker. Your choice! We support and love your dreams, little Jimmy!" 

And that is where the nightmare that I've been trying to force myself not to have all night, hit full force. I don't know what their electrodes record but if they could have seen this one, I might have made a mint in the horror movie business  Or they would have run screaming from their jobs...or locked me away...quite possibly, all three.

And of course, that's when I stop breathing. I'm told later on that I have a mild form of sleep apnea but that it increases dramatically when I fall into a deep sleep...which isn't much or often. No shit, Sherlock. What part of "I have nightmares" did you miss? Ever tried to breath normally when your brain has convinced you that you are talking to another form of yourself sitting in the exact same hospital bed while they are tortured in ways that make the Saw movies look tame? How about when your nightmares often leave you grasping at reality as to if your loved ones have really died and you either wake them up in a panic to make sure they're alive or sit in the dark crying and waiting on each of them to wake up, check in and be ok?

Whatever it was, they let me unstrap and go home after my breakfast of starch, starch & starch with a side of milk (again..lactose intolerant). I feel sorry for the little nurse who tried to help me find my way out of the hospital...because she was trying to be nice and tell me the easiest way to my car and by that point I was panicked and needed to be out of the building no matter where it put me.

The REALLY good news? They want me to do another one.....

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