My Overnight Sleep Study in the Hospital.

Check-in for the overnight sleep study was at 7:30pm. It was downtown in what looks like an office building across from the hospital. My husband drove me there and, when we arrived, the lobby was filled with overweight men. One of them was coughing, so you better believe I put my surgical mask on in the elevator. My husband doesn’t even blink an eye at this behavior. But, you know what? The last time I was getting my blood drawn and I explained to the phlebotomist that I didn’t have a cold, I just didn’t like being in the main public hospital because if I got sicker it wouldn’t bode well, she said, “That’s good! Protect yourself! You should!” And there are people out there who will think I have a cold and be grateful. I, for one, would be very grateful if someone were wearing a mask on a plane. The sickest person I’ve ever come in contact with in my life was sitting next to me on a plane. At the time I wasn’t paranoid, so I didn’t say anything, which I can’t believe. Somebody must have, though, because the air hostess (what are they called now?) tried talking to him — to help him or get him off the plane or something. I have no recollection what happened in the end, actually. Did I sit next to him the whole journey? Shudder.

Anyway, the check-in at the sleep clinic involved filling out the 4 EXACT SAME PAGES of forms as I had at the sleep clinic consultation. I will never understand why they do this to patients. Finally, about a month ago, I got savvy and created a google doc with all my allergies, over-the-counter meds, prescription meds, the reasons I take them, the dosages, when I started, when I stopped etc… So, I just print it out and take it to every appointment. To fill all that in on their forms might literally take hours. Plus, it would be very tiny writing. The room was like a hotel room: flat screen tv, shower, toilet, sink, bed… and 65 degrees. That’s like a walk-in. Okay, a broken walk-in, but that’s very cold for me. The tech told me to get into my pajamas and she would be back to take me to the electrode-placing room. This room was even colder. I sat in my little shorts and top shivering as she spent a full hour placing electrodes all over my scalp, chest and legs. She also put tight belts around me chest and waist. The whole time she was explaining things in her thick Russian accent. I was in Moscow in the 80s, I said. I traded my jeans for cigarettes and badges. Her eyes grew wide, Oh, when it was still the Soviet Union? But, these were beautiful badges and cigarette packs. In fact, I think I have the latter somewhere in a box with my Kiss (the band) bubblegum cards. If I can find them, I’ll post a picture. 24-year old cigarettes!When she was done, I looked like this:

I put another blanket on the bed, cranked up the heat in the room and lay down to read. I brought a suitcase; I came prepared. I brought Gatorade and snacks and pain-killers. I brought a bowl and oatmeal, a mug and teabags. But, really, there is no time for anything. By the time she’s done with you, it’s 9:30pm and she is going to be waking me up before 6am. That’s lovely ~ let’s take a bunch of sleep-deprived people and wake them at the crack of a sparrow’s fart (as my husband says). Even if I had asked the tech to heat me up some water for tea so I could warm up (the hospital paperwork said there was a microwave in the room, so I thought I’d be able to do it myself), I wouldn’t have been able to drink it comfortably because I had wires attached to my chin and things up my nose and even raising your arm is an ordeal. Once you are hooked up, nothing comes on or off and you can’t go to the toilet without waving your hand and calling out (because the tech is watching you all night on infrared cameras).She took my blood pressure which was 109/64 (quite high for me — thank you, chicken broth dinner) and ran me through a series of sensor tests (“point and flex your left foot, make a snoring sound, breathe through your nose only” etc.). They have sleep number beds which I thought was great ~ I always wondered what they were like. Holy shit do they suck. Do not fall for the infomercials! I lay there for an hour and a half trying to get comfortable and fall asleep. I listened to my sleep meditation 4 times in a row. I pressed the “softer” button on the mattress remote control about ten times. For those of you with fibromyalgia or any chronic pain, this is a woeful experience. Every wire, every electrode, every inch of the belts hurt my muscles. Plus, I’m on the thin side, so my bones felt like I was lying on concrete. I was like princess and the pea only the peas were jagged rocks. They want you to stay on your back, if possible, but, after the tenth time waking up in pain along my spine, I rolled to my side, not caring what wires I compromised (don’t worry, if a sensor falls off, the tech is alerted and comes in to replace it). I woke up at some stage and waved my hand and got her to disconnect me so I could go to the loo. I woke up at another stage and pushed the mattress “softer” button about 50 more times. I woke up at another stage and drank some water ~ very dry rooms. The one thing I forgot was my throat spray which would have helped with the tickle. I did have a lozenge in my purse on the other side of the room, but I wasn’t going to call the tech in for that. Hint to anyone doing a sleep study: put anything you think you might want by the bed before the tech hooks you up! I woke up again sweltering, had to push the covers off, take my knee-high wool socks off (Raynaud’s, remember), but no drenching night sweats, thank god. I woke up about 5 times with my neck tweaked to bits. The pillows are HORRIBLE. Why didn’t I tell them I had to bring my own pillow because of my neck injury?? (another hint) And then, at 5:55am, she woke me, ran me through the tests again and took my BP (80/51 ~ oof, I’ve never seen it that low unless I’m in a faint. Is it always that low in the morning?). With the lights on, this is what I found my face had been on, the pillow case slipped off:

Am I in jail? How many drooling, sweaty fat men have slept on that rag of a pillow, I ask you? Ew.

I assume most people shower because the goop they put in your hair is very thick and does not come off without hot water and shampoo, but I just wrapped a scarf around my head and went down to meet my husband. Half an hour later, I was in my own bed, with the electric blanket on, vertebrae cushioned, neck supported, more thankful than I have ever been in my life for a good mattress (Bragada is the brand, worth every penny) and a foam neck pillow (free with the Bragada!).

I don’t get the sleep results for 2 weeks. I guarantee the doctor tells me to take a sleeping pill.

Today, I am having a hard time breathing. My heart and lungs seem to be spasming, so I am going to spend the whole weekend trying to rest and praying praying praying that I don’t fall into a deep, dark crash tonight or tomorrow. Please let me get through that clinic visit without becoming bed-bound, weeping with pain and exhaustion. I’m just now slightly starting to feel less depressed, I need this triumph. I need to do one thing without my body punishing me.

Family and friends: I could have made this post half the length and then answered some of your emails, so I apologise… I’ll try to reply to you all tomorrow and not post on the blog.

Gratitude today is for our bed ~ the first big purchase for our new home in 2006. I had slept on a futon and my brother’s couches (in my 20s, I crashed with him in 3 different apartments) for 6 years before buying my first grown-up (cheap) mattress for my first grown-up apartment when I finally decided to stop being a nomad. Never underestimate the power of a decent mattress. I’m going back to mine right now. And I still have the goop in my hair.

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6 thoughts on “My Overnight Sleep Study in the Hospital.

  1. I am supposed to have a sleep study done too, but I don’t see the point.. they want to see if I have sleep apnea and maybe that is why I’m so tired all the time….. well maybe I do and maybe I don’t have it but I can’t fall asleep and stay asleep because of pain and having to get up every few hours to go to the bathroom.

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  2. akaemilo says:

    I completely agree. If I hadn’t been on the wait list for months and genuinely curious what happens to me in the night, I wouldn’t have done it. I certainly wouldn’t have done it without insurance.

    Every time I read something about our tiredness being caused by lack of sleep, I want to scream. Nobody can ever understand that there are no English words for what is wrong with us. Not tired, fatigued, exhausted… It’s nothing to do with sleep.

    Do you mind me asking what pain killer you use?

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  3. stranded says:

    I have had a sleep study. I actually have a sleep number bed and like it. Each to their own. I had the worst time trying to sleep also. All the wires and belts hurt so bad. I found out I had very mild sleep apnea. I had so much pain and anxiety I almost flunked because only got minumum amount of sleep. I am heavy and snore so this why they did it. It didn’t have anything to do with my CFS. I also went home and washed out my goop from my hair. I also wear my masks everywhere. People stare but it would be nice if they wore them when they where sick.
    Yes I had to ask for ear plugs because the guy in room next to me snored so loud. Not bad if you sleep well! I brought my own pillow. It was not comfortable at all. How can I bee dignosised with fibro and CFS and I also have MPS. It so hard to me to figure out what caousing what. I so exhausted all the time. I have terrible memory issues. Now I need to do more research on CFS.

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  4. […] As promised three months ago, here are the cigarettes from my visit to the USSR, circa 1988 and Kiss bubblegum cards, circa 1978 (I think I stole these from my brothers). How fun! […]

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  5. […] the night or I wake up over and over again, interrupting the regular, beautiful sleep cycle. The sleep study said my brain woke up 49 times an hour. Maybe, if I got hooked up to all those sensors again, I […]

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  6. […] quality over the course of months, years? I’ve had 5 sleep studies with no real answers. The first one in 2012 (long before I had my Buzzy Brain symptoms) showed my brain was waking up 49 times an hour. […]

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