Thursday, December 19, 2013

Too Tired to Sleep

I'm back!  Not 100% back, but close to it.  I'm now wishing I had placed a new laptop on my Christmas list to Santa.  I need one.

I've been battling sleep issues for years now, mostly severe snoring and grinding of teeth.  Before I got married, it was only a problem for myself, but after I got married, my wonderful wife suffered more than I did.  She also picked up on the fact that I would stop breathing for short periods of time during the night, a sure indication that I had sleep apnea.  She wanted me to get it checked, and I resisted.  After she died, I forgot about it.  My sleeping got worse and worse, though, and as I suffered through the sleep issues, I was also dealing with periods of depression.  Add on hypertension, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and exhaustion, and I became a real mess.  At my last doctor's appointment, I asked for a referral for a sleep study.  It was scheduled for Tuesday night.

I arrived at 9 p.m. after dropping my daughter off at my parent's place.  The sleep study office was in the basement of a large professional building just outside of Annapolis.  I was shown to a standard non-descript bedroom, with a nice flat-screen TV, a sleep-number bed, and a powder room.  After filling out a bunch of paperwork and being informed that there was one other patient there for the night, so the technician would be serving both of us, I was told to get ready to sleep and then they would begin applying the wires and sensors.  So I changed into my sweats and a t-shirt, and jumped into bed.  It was very comfortable.  I proceeded to read the book I had brought.  At around 9:30, the technician, a very nice young lady, knocked and entered my room to collect the paperwork.  She informed me that it would take about 30 minutes to connect all of the wires, and she would start with the other patient, since that woman's normal bedtime was at 9:30 and mine was 10.  So I kept reading.

I started to get tired at around 10, just as the technician returned.  Next was the process of connecting all of the wires.  They were on my legs, my chest, my neck, all over my face, and my head.  They were used to check all of my vital signs, as well as all of the pertinent sleep issues I might have, including restless legs syndrome, and, of course, sleep apnea.  She then helped me get into bed, connected the wires to a harness that connected to a computer.  I noticed the camera on the ceiling, through which they would be watching me all night.  I got a bit self-conscious at the thought.  There was an intercom system that I could use should I need anything, including having to use the bathroom.  She said to remain on my back until they got everything up and running, at which time I was free to sleep in any position I wanted.  She turned off the light and left the room.  About 30 seconds later, I heard her voice on the intercom.  She asked me to position my head in a bunch of different ways, then to move my eyes, legs, arms, etc.  Finally, she said good night, and I was on my own....well, me and all of the eyes watching me.

It took a while to get to sleep.  I'm a side sleeper, so I turned onto my side.  It was very comfortable.  All of the sensors on the side of my face made for a lumpy pillow.  I was also very self-conscious about the whole experience.  I couldn't seem to get past the thought of people watching me sleep.  But I then tried a few of the techniques I use at home when I'm restless, such as imagining the floorplan of my retirement home (it really works, don't ask me why), and I was soon in snooze land.

I awoke suddenly after what seemed only a few minutes.  There was a digital clock on the far side of the room and it showed 1:11 a.m.  More time had gone by than I thought.  I had to use the bathroom.  This was typical.  I usually get up a couple of times during the night.  I pressed the intercom button, and immediately heard the technician say she would be right there.  I wondered why she answered so quickly but remembered the camera and figured they knew I was awake before I did.  She opened the door and dimmed the lights to a level where I could see but they weren't obtrusive.  She helped me get up, disconnected a few of the wires, then took the entire harness and placed it around my head by a strap.  I was free then to use the bathroom.  After, I pressed the intercom button, and she returned.  Since I had stayed pretty much in one position, I decided to sleep on my other side, so she help me get into position.  Apparently, I had knocked one of the sensors loose on my leg, and she made sure it was stuck in place.  Then it was back to sleep.

This time, it took me a lot longer to fall back to sleep.  There had been too long of an interruption between when I woke up and when I was able to lay back down, and I was wide awake, though still tired.  Again, I tried thinking about the things that normally put me to sleep, and I started to drift off.  However, I had one of those weird moments when I felt like I was falling and I woke up suddenly, my whole body jumping.  I got my bearings, and closed my eyes again.  I wondered how that looked on the sensors!  I was soon asleep again.  I woke up one more time, at around 4 a.m.  I rolled over and was soon asleep again.  Then the light went on.  It was 5:30, and it was time to get up.  The technician said to move into the chair when I was ready and she began to disconnect the wires.  This was not so easy.  I'm a pretty hairy guy, so removing the sensors was a lot like removing a band-aid, and I'm sure ripping them off took some hair with them.

I was ready to go within 20 minutes, and that was it.  I was free to leave.  I walked outside to the cold morning air.  It was still dark.  I was really hungry.  I looked for a fast food place to drive thru to get something on my stomach, then I drove to my parent's place in Bowie to shower and get ready for work.

I worked a normal day, though I was a bit tired.  I had a nice evening with my daughter.  We got a few groceries, ran some errands, etc.  Then we went to bed.

I slept pretty solid all night.  Apparently, I hit the snooze on my alarm clock a few too many times.  It was six o'clock already, and I was in no shape to even get out of bed.  I decided to sleep in just a bit.  I texted a few of my employees to let then know I would be in later.  And I fell right back to sleep.  I awoke again at 8:45, just as my daughter was getting ready to leave for school (my sister, who comes to the house each morning, had gotten her ready).  I said good bye.  I checked my BlackBerry calendar to see what meetings I might miss, and determined I could take the day off without too much trouble.  I emailed my boss to let her know.  She was very understanding.  I rolled over and fell asleep again.  I slept a couple of hours more.  Then I decided to get up.  I tried eating a bowl of cereal.  I watched a little bit of TV.  Then I snoozed on the couch...for three more hours.  I awoke again, let Faithful Pup Scout run outside, then I returned to the couch and slept some more.

I was awakened by a text from my daughter asking if she should walk home or would I be picking her up.  Since I wasn't even dressed, and still very groggy, I asked her to walk.  She happily did.  When she arrived, I told her that I was really out of it, that I might need to sleep a little more.  She said she would do her homework, and she was fine with it.  I fell asleep again.  Next, it was around 6 p.m.  I yelled up to my girl to see if she wanted dinner.  She said she was okay, but would be down shortly.  I fell asleep again.  7:30 p.m.  I yelled up again.  She bounced down the stairs and said she could eat.  We had a light dinner.  I at cereal again.  I had no appetite.  We watched a little TV as we ate.  I kept toying with my laptop and finally got it to boot up in safe mode.  This allowed me to finally access this blog.

I'm still tired, though, and I'm ready for bed again.  I don't know if this is just a reaction to the lack of sleep during the sleep study, or if there's more to it.  Either way, I'm still tired.  Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday!

Have a great evening, everyone!

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