Staring Down the Barrel of a (Hot Glue) Gun

Sometimes your mind can be so open that your brain falls out.

Friday, September 28, 2007

My Own Brand of Sleeplessness

After reading about mammamer's nightmare trying to get her son to sleep, I feel a bit odd about posting my own sleeplessness issues. But really, they're pretty impressive in their own right, and I'm pretty sure this isn't a competition, so here goes:

I just received the official results of my sleep study in the mail a few days ago. These are all things Ipretty much knew, but it is VERY reassuring to have them be proven and printed out in fancy graphs and charts to validate them (not losing my mind! Whoo hoo!)

I was asleep atthe clinic for roughly 7.5 hours, and had taken an Ambien. In that time:

* I woke up 9 times.
* I spent all of 16 minutes in Stage 3 sleep.
* I NEVER entered Stage 4 sleep.
* I stopped breathing 135 times (that's about 18 times an hour.)
* The average time for not breathing was 13 seconds, with the longest being 30 seconds.

Oddly, I felt like I'd actually had a (relatively) good night's sleep the next day, and hoped they'd been able to get real-life results. I think they succeeded.

All of this added up means I have Moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and I go in for my follow-up next Wednesday. Hopefully I'll be able to walk out of the clinic with my sexy CPAP machine tucked undermy arm. I'll never feel attractive again, but maybe I'll feel more rested.

Wish I could send Mer a machine to solve her troubles as well....

Saturday, September 15, 2007


There was something very Twilight Zone about the whole Sleep Study. I was ass tired as usual (oops, was that me that almost wrecked the car in the parking lot? Ha, ha!) when I got to the clinic, which may have colored my perception a bit. Still, we felt like a strange lot: all of us had managed to win some sort of slightly askew lottery and were here to cash in our travel vouchers with our duffel bags or rolling suitcases in hand. One by one we filed silently into the mostly deserted building on Wednesday evening as the sun started to set over the hills. How odd it felt to not have to check in at a front desk, or go through some sort of security procedure. Just muffled, carpeted hallways, staggering groggily along.

It was super obvious that we were all there for the same thing, but no one spoke to each other. We all sat in silence in the waiting room until a bespectacled and balding man with a clipboard and a white coat came in. He greeted us by name as if we were long lost relatives seeing each other for the first time in a few years; that is, after surreptitiously glancing at his list between each person.

We followed him in a line down the hallway like Alice going after the White Rabbit. One by one, patients dispapeared into rooms. Then there was one, and I was escorted into the final room. It was a nice enough room; a single bed, tv on the wall, heavily shuttered windows, and a lone swivel chair draped with wires next to a tray of syringes and other medical paraphenelia. The Rabbit pointed out the observation camera and then followed it with a sweeping gesture towards the bathroom, should I require any privacy. Then, glancing at his pocket watch, he sped off, door closing behind him.

And there I sat.

For about 2 hours, I just hung out. Once or twice someone of the medical persuasion came in to introduce themselves, but never stayed much past introductions. Unlike every other hospital/medical experience I've had, the place was not bustling with activity. No one came in every 20 minutes to check my blood pressure, or take some sort of sample. There were no intercoms going off, no clatter of trays going past in the hallway. It was almost a feeling of solitary confinement. Once or twice I caught the sound of muffled laughter from some unknown location and I was reminded that a room full of people would soon be spending the night staring at me. Slightly creepy. But I pushed through that feeling by watching lots and lots of bad broatcast TV.

Whew! Talk about surreal! When you don't have television in your house, it can be a real slap in the face. "Americas Next Model": where anorexic teens simper after the chance to turn into a brainless and vapid model like Tara Banks! Sports Center: where every available surface is covered with a sponsor's slogan! Some sitcom with Jim Belushi and a laugh track: umm, dear god, that was bad. Waiter, may I have that boot to the head now, instead of with my entree?

Four days later, a woman came in and started to wire me up. She was quite friendly, chatty, and answered all of my questions. This was a bonus in that it took at least 60 minutes to get me fully geared up for the night. I had wires cemented (no lie) to my scalp, taped to my face, my neck, my torso, and even my legs. 30 in all when she was finished. Half the wires ran under my pajamas and met all of the other wires on a breadbox hung around my neck. I also had some sort of breath sensor taped into my nose. The stylish monitors strapped around my upper chest and belly helpfully accentuated my stylish bulges and finished off a stunning ensemble of the latest in sleep technology. Yes, I was sex on wheels, let me tell you. Well, maybe if I'd accidentally stumbled into R2D2 and C3PO, anyhow.

I was then given the all clear to fall asleep, which I had wanted to do since I left my house for the study. I worried that the wires and bits would keep me awake, but the bread box and most of the wires were tucked fairly out of the way, and I'm sure that Ambien didn't hurt anything. I was out like a light. Not suprisingly I still had a fairly rough nights sleep (typical,) but at least I had some interesting dreams, at the very least which involved Burning Man and the gym teacher from Freaks and Geeks (ahem.)

At 7 am, I was woken up by a nurse and voila! My mini vacation was over. After 20 minutes of wire removal, my hair was permanently sculpted into a coiffure a la shock therapy and I was free to go. Again, very strange in that there was no paper work to sign, no release forms, no one to say goodbye to or check out with. Just gather up your things and go, young lady! Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out! I briefly considered leaving a tip, but instead just grabbed my toothpaste and left. Interestingly I passed a bunch of regular office employees just arriving at work, freshly showered and carrying steaming cups of caffeine in their hands as I left through the heavy glass doors. How odd must it be to pass the staggering masses leaving your building as you are arriving every day!

Two weeks until I get my official diagnosis. I must say, I am fairly excited about the notion of sleeping the night through and not feeling like shit all the time, even to the point where the leaf blower strapped to my face is starting to sound like fun! With the tumor, I had been told of how fantastic I was going to feel on the other side of surgery, but did not get too attached to the idea as I'd had my hopes dashed too many times up until then. Not so this time. I have put all of my eggs in one basket, all of my money is on red, have closed my eyes and jumped -- all with the belief that this is gonna fix it all!

Dear god, lemme be right. If only to make this stupendously horryfying picture worth it:Oh, and I'm sorry. Now that you've seen this picture, I'm afraid I have to kill you. Have a nice day!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wanted: A Few Good Men

I have this medical condition, you see, and I was thinking, well, maybe to avoid surgery (and make a few bucks on the side...)

Wait. I'm getting way ahead of myself. Let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up: Buttercup is marry Humperdink in little less than half an ho--

No, sorry about that. Wrong backplot. Let me try again.

So, today I went in for my Sleep Study Consultation. I sat in a room with a doctor who asked me about a thousand questions about my sleeping (or lack thereof.) He jammed a popsicle stick in my mouth - hell, halfway down my throat - and shone a light up my nose. After about 15 minutes, he concluded that he was fairly sure I had Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Said that my tonsils were huge, my jaw was really short, my tongue was enlarged (thanks, tumor!) and in general my throat was pretty small. He then ran out and got a surgeon* to repeat a lot of the poking and prodding.

Surgeon came up with an even better diagnosis: without me ever laying my head on a pillow, he's betting I've got severe sleep apnea! Well, hallelujia! For the second time this year, I urn out not to be imagining things! I really DO sleep like ass! And I have a medical reason to do so! In the famous words of my friend Minnie: woot!

So, I inquire. What happens now? Well, first I officially take the test, where you go to their center, plug you in for the night, and monitor all of your dirty dreams. Then in a few weeks I go back for the official diagnosis.

Depending on its severity, there are a few ways to treat apnea. The best is something called a CPAP. Basically, you have to sleep with a mask that forces low pressure air into your throat at all times to keep it open. Hmm, sounds fairly unpleasant and super not sexy. Next comes the option of possibly having some sort of mouth piece to force my lower jaw out so as to open the throat and allow air to enter unobstructed. This is only for mild cases, and frankly as someone who can't even wear a dental guard at night, fairly unlikely (and also butt ugly.) The third does not require anything to be strapped onto or inserted into my head, which is a nice change. Yes, with option number three, I may get to have my tonsils removed and get my septum moved yet again! Whoo hoo!

Now I know you are thinking to yourself, Mama, how did you get so lucky? Well, I haven't even told you the best part: Option Four. Yes, this particular gold plated option really got my pulse to leaping: having my jaw broken and pushed forward to PERMANENTLY open my throat nice and wide! It's like free plastic surgery! Hot damn!

Long story short: I don't have to decide anything in the near future. First comes the test, and because I'm still on hydrocortisone, nothing drastic would be done for at least 6 months. That also gives tissue time to possibly reduce in size as well. Most likely, I'll get sent home with the CPAP machine until such tme as we can do anything else. I am extra not excited about this machine, but truly,at this point if it meant I got several good nights sleep in a row for the first time in years (doc says I've probably had this my whole life and its just gotten worse with time), I'd actually be ok with that . Mostly.

Which brings me back to my idea. Men. Specifically, men's penises. Many of the questionnaires I had to fill out at the clinic at least touched on the relationship between sleep and sex. Drive, sleeping better afterwards, that sort of thing. And whilst I agree that I sleep better after sex, both with myself OR someone else, that's not where i'm going with this.

Blow jobs.

Yep, I figure if I start giving lots and lots and LOTS of blow jobs, my throat should open right up! Hell, my jaw may become permanently relocated in the process, thereby saving me the hassle of having to have it broken and moved. Plus, like I mentioned earlier, if I could make a few bucks on the side....

But I digress. I ran the idea past Husband, who at least over IM did not seem terribly phased. He had a few suggestions for my business plans ("You'll need to find guys with large penises") which sounded pretty sage. I'm not quite sure how to advertise for this sort of thing, though. Like any cottage industry, do I start by hitting up my friends and family? On some level, that seems a bit wrong. Maybe physical therapists can help. Yep, c'mon over here and work your therapy on the back of my throat! On second thought, nah, 'cause then I have to deal with insurance companies, and we all know what a pain THAT can be!

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Idea girl has hit a snag in her plan.

Tomorrow is the sleep test. Not sure if I'll be able to get any pix of this or not...

* This surgeon had to be 75 years old if he was a day, and he had a noticeable shake. The thought of this man possibly performing any procedure on me filled me with terror as would any man who's balls were about to be shaved by a late Katherine Hepburn.