Peggy (mom): Due to some issues with leg swelling, etc., my doctor ordered a sleep study for me to check for sleep apnea among other things. At first, I was angry because several people assumed I had sleep apnea. Of course, the addict in me just knew it was because of my excess weight and I hate that. When I took Q to the pediatrician, even HE diagnosed me with sleep apnea which really ticked me off. He hadn’t asked me how I was sleeping or anything…just one glance at the 100 lbs I had packed on in the last year or so and he crowned me with the title of “Miss Sleep Apnea”. I don’t like anyone looking at me and making a judgment about anything and I certainly was NOT going to wear one of those ridiculous contraptions. Its hard enough to want to be physically intimate when you are obese and wearing one of those delightful masks just wasn’t going to cut it for me!
Something very curious happens when you start to “think” you have sleep apnea. The neurologist told me that I may have already done too much damage to my heart. By snoring too much? What the Hell? He then told me about Reggie White (I don’t follow sports) but evidently he DIED of sleep apnea. Yep, that’s all I needed to convince myself I was going to stop breathing and die while I slept. I may not have had sleep issues BEFORE I went to the doctor but I can assure you that afterwards, I was tossing and turning all night, convinced I was going to die in my sleep. I couldn’t lay on my back…no, my weight was certainly crushing my chest and lungs…and gasp, I couldn’t breathe anymore. As I fell asleep, I would wake myself up with a small snore…what was that? did I stop breathing? This was torture! I couldn’t wait for my sleep study where we would know once and for all if this was all in my head.
I arrived at the sleep clinic promptly at 9 pm….comfortable clothes in hand and realizing I had forgotten my flat pillow. Oh great, I’ll probably be like my friend and spend the whole night tossing and turning and get zero answers! “It’s going to take 30 minutes to hook you all up”, they said. How the heck am I going to sleep with these wires attached to me? They were attached to my toes, my unshaven (horrors!) legs, my finger, my head and straps were wound around my chest and stomach. Of course, when it came time to strap my stomach, I was convinced that they weren’t going to have long enough straps and I panicked……breathing a sigh of relief only when the two ends actually met. Were they going to be watching me through a two way mirror? How was I going to wind down if I knew someone was gawking at me? Even more important, how was I going to get up to go to the bathroom my requisite three times a night with all these wires attached to me?
They had a room set up just like a hotel room….tv in the corner and all. It really looked inviting and the fact that I hadn’t had caffeine made it easier to imagine falling asleep quickly even though I had a wire in my nose and I was convinced I would die that night because I wouldn’t be able to breathe. I had seen there was an urgent care clinic nearby…maybe they could resuscitate me when I stopped breathing that night. Because of course, THAT night was the night I would suddenly die of sleep apnea….right there in the neurologist’s sleep clinic!
They actually tucked me, turned out the light and then over an intercom told me to do things like open/close my eyes, move my eyes back and forth and up/down, flex my legs, etc. They told me this test would also see if I have restless leg syndrome….something I do suffer from at times. I decided to watch some shows on my phone and tried to go to sleep. You become hyper conscious of how many times you open/close your eyes, turn over, breathe through your wire blocked nose, gasp for air from your mouth etc. When I got hot and kicked the covers off…is my big belly showing? They could see me but I guess it was through a camera because there were no windows in the room. I did fall asleep, surprisingly but on occasion, the technician came into the room because I had kicked off one of the wires or she had to help disconnect me so I could go down to the bathroom.
Very quickly it was 6 am and they woke me up. She laughed and said, “did you have a nice sleep?” She knew I hadn’t slept much but she confirmed I had slept enough for them to get the information they need. The best part was I was still alive and breathing! Now the waiting starts….I should know something in a couple of weeks…….I hope I don’t stop breathing before then……..