Friday, December 7, 2012


It was a little bit like checking in for an overnight stay at a hotel.

The difference was: I checked in at Emergency at a city hospital verses a hotel lobby. And the only card they required was my provincial hospitalization card instead of a credit card.

I brought my overnight bag with everything that I would need for the evening and the next morning. Arrangements were made at home so that (almost) no one even noticed I was missing.

I had arrived for my overnight sleep study.

Once you check in, you are directed to go to the sleep study lab waiting room. There was a questionairre to be completed and then you do exactly what the sign says. You wait.

There were six of us booked in for the evening's festivities. Each of us had a private room with our own private bathroom. It was no suite at the Ritz. But it was my oasis for the evening. I could pretend ...

I was quickly greeted by my personal overnight hostess. She explained what would be happening and invited me to 'dress' for the evening and she would be back when I was ready.

This is when it became evident that my hotel fantasy would end. I sat back as she hooked me up to a myriad of wires, leads and even a ground wire as they would be monitoring my brain waves throughout the night. They could tell if I was awake or asleep, the quality of my sleep and the stage of sleep that I was in. There were more leads attached to my face as they could monitor eye movement (during REM sleep) and chin movement (to see if I grind my teeth in my sleep). My heart was monitored with two electrodes attached on either side of my chest. Then there were the leg leads which were attached to each shin (to detect Restless Leg Syndrome or other movement disorders).

At this point, I was still mobile. All of my wires were attached to a central box which I could wear around my neck like a necklace. Not quite the evening attire that one would wear, to go out on the town. But a wander down the hallway to watch TV was a viable option.

Since I had the look-of-Frankenstein going on, I decided not to wander the halls. The hour was getting late so I opted to get wired down for the night.

There were another set of belts and paraphernalia which awaited me in my private room. A belt around my chest and another around my stomach which would sense my effort of breathing. A 'cannula' was attached to my nose which monitored when I breathed in and out. One more gadget - the Pulse/Ox was clipped to my finger and I was suited up for the evening.

Oh yes ... then there was the video camera and microphone above my bed, so that they could see my movements and hear my snoring. There is nothing like looking forward to a good night's sleep when your every movement, sound, breath, brain wave, leg movement and teeth grinding activity is being watched by someone down the hall.

I could have swore that my brain never shut down all night. The only evidence that I fell asleep at all, was the fact that I kept waking up. All night.

But apparently, I did sleep. The monitors proved it. When I sat down with the doctor the next morning, he said that they got a very good reading because I slept on both sides, on my back, woke and fell back to sleep several times and had a lot of REM activity.

Apparently ... I snore. This was not entirely news to me, though I thought that it was just the little snort that woke me up that was the extent of it. I got to see the steady waves on the chart to prove that it is perhaps a little more than I thought. But even the snoring was really nothing note worthy.

In the morning, the technician said that what she noted was very minor (in the snoring realm) and she unhooked my wires and sanctioned a morning cup of caffeinated coffee.

Later, the doctor said that if I had not had that coffee, he would have suggested spending the day to monitor nap activity (simply because I was already there) just to completely rule out narcolepsy. But he said there were no indicators that this was an issue and his report would reflect that.

So ... I have a complete and total clean bill of health. Between my last full physical and a new doctor that was happy to investigate any and all concerns that I brought up ... I feel like I have been checked over from head to toe. After my sleep study, it honestly feels like no stone has been left unturned. My life insurance provider should be content to insure me without reservation (or doubling my monthly premium).

The first word that my doctor said in regards to his interpretation of my polysomnogram was: "Unremarkable". While my instinctive reply was, "Well this was no stay at the Ritz either!" ... I knew that 'unremarkable' was the result that I expected and it was exactly what I wanted to hear.

My self-diagnosis before I walked in the door was simply a low-grade depression. Something completely and totally within my control. Because I am living an 'unremarkable life' ... I am quite literally sleep walking through my days.

It is time to endeavor to make my days 'remarkable' and worthy of staying alert awake for ...

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