Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Further Adventures Of Curmudgeon

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I have chronicled since January of last year the saga of I-Don’t-Feel-So-Pretty-Good from the diagnosis of restrictive lung disease and COPD to the alarming diagnosis of diastolic heart failure.

My lung doctor set up pulmonary rehabilitation for me and my cardiologist ordered a polysomnogram (sleep study test).  I went to the orientation for pulmonary rehabilitation on January 6th and was disappointed that I would be put on a waiting list for the location nearest my home.  I was offered another location that was too far from home to even consider and a third location in the downtown area near where I live but the hours of operation were 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This is not doable for me since I have to report to work at 12:00 PM.  So by October, when I have retired, I will begin the rehab.

Yesterday I was scheduled for a sleep study test.  I reported to the Hampton Inn at 7:30 PM.  I knocked on the door marked Sleep Study Center.  “Rita” answered the door.  I gave her my name and she handed me a clipboard with three sheets of paper for me to fill in the data required.

We entered the room next door and I was instructed to watch two videos that were already cued up.  I finished filling out the paperwork and obligingly watched the videos.  I jumped into my PJs and Rita returned with a cart loaded with equipment and lots and lots a wires.

Rita placed a small cup like the ones they dispense pills in at the hospital on the coffee table.  It contained a gooey green substance and there was a long stick with a cotton swab on the end stuck in it.  I was informed that the goo was an exfoliant.

Rita began unwrapping a series of wires with electrodes and handed it to me instructing me to slip it down my T-shirt and then down my PJ bottoms.  Once I did that she began to use the exfoliant to “clean” two areas on my left leg.  Then she attached two electrodes to my left leg.  We repeated that process on the right side.

Rita placed some kind of a strap that was placed under my arms above my breasts and another around my waist.

Rita then asked that I sit in the chair beside the desk in the room.  She began to apply the green goo to six spots on my head.  She wiped off the excess and then applied something akin to epoxy just like she had on my legs.  The difference was this shit was going into my hair.

Then I was asked to move to the bed’s edge and have a seat while she went through the same process to place electrodes near my eyes, on my chin and cheeks.  Then came the cannula that went into my nostrils.  Attached to this was a plastic hook-like dealie that rested on my upper lip.

We made sure the TV’s remote control was within reach and then I laid down on the bed.  Before doing so, Rita gathered up all the wiring and laid them on my left side.  She immediately began inserting the ends of the electrodes into a circuitry box called a Patient Removable Link.  Finally, she placed an Oximeter on the middle finger of my left hand.  She taped it in place.  It had a red light on it that remained constantly lit.  It reminded me of ET’s finger from the movie E.T. The Extraterrestrial when he touched Elliott’s face and told him, “I’ll be right here.”

Anyway, Rita said that if I needed anything to just call.  She said, “There’s no button to push.  I’ll be able to hear you call.  There’s a speaker beside your bed.”  She asked if I needed anything.  “No,” I said and off she went.

There was no clock in the room and I couldn’t wear a watch so I was guessing it was some time after 9:00 PM when Rita closed the door.

I clicked through the limited number of channels on the TV.  As usual, there wasn’t shit on so I settled on Fox News.  I thought at least I’ll be able to track the time.

Now you know the Hampton Inns have The Heavenly Bed™ and you would have thought I would be comfy.  Uh uh.

For one thing, I didn’t have my furkid Sophie to snuggle with and for another there was that damned camera peering down on my every movement.

If I had to float an air biscuit would Rita hear it?  I figured she would.  If I had an itch in a place you don’t dare scratch in public would I dare go after it on camera?  Nope.  So there I was trapped like Gulliver by the Lilliputians.

I sleep on my side 99.99% of the time.  Rita said I could start out that way but wanted me spend some time on my back.  I tried to obey.

I remember listening to Megyn Kelly and drifting off.  Near midnight I figure, I had to pee.  I called to Rita and she came in and unhooked the Patient Remote Link and slung it around my neck.  She wrapped the cable for the Oximeter around my wrist and I was freed to go pee.  The light was deliberately left on in the bathroom so I walked right in and took a seat.

When I looked in the mirror as I pulled up my PJ bottom I was terrified.  I looked like some demented science experiment and my hair looked like a fright wig.  The goo and glue had nearly every strand of hair standing on end.  The tape, the electrodes and the wires attached to my face were like an interstate spaghetti junction.  Holy shit!

I went back to the bed and Rita reconnected everything.  She asked if I always sleep with the TV on.  I said that I do.  I informed her that the TV would remain on or we could conclude the test.

After Rita left I tried to get back to sleep but I was getting pissed.  Time was dragging on in super slow motion.

Maybe an hour or so later, I managed to drift off again.  Then I heard Fox & Friends First come on and I knew it was 5 o’clock.  I called for Rita and asked if we could make this end.

Rita asked me to hold on.  Apparently she had to confer with the doctor in the Sleep Center.  Moments later she answered that they had gathered enough information and she would be in in a moment.  I asked her to come fairly soon since I had to pee again.

She disconnected everything from the remote link and I took care of business.  When I reentered the room, Rita began to unplug all the electrodes.  Once she had done that she began to apply some sort of solution to dissolve the glue that was left behind.  She said that she would try to remove as much as she could but I would need to use the hottest water I could stand to remove it all.

As she did this I asked if I had obstructive sleep apnea.  She said she was not allowed to discuss the results with me.  She said the doctors “like to do that..” Then she changed the subject by telling me the hotel would have breakfast ready at 6:00 AM.

Apparently she thought I was going to shower in the room.  No ma’am.  My ass was headed home.  I tried to rake through my hair but it was all glomed together.  Brushing it only made me pull my hair out in little tee-niny clumps.

I threw on my clothes and bolted out of there. 

When I walked in my door at home, little Sophie took one look at me and wondered “What the hell?”

I sat on the sofa and she sniffed my arms and jumped in my lap and then started furiously sniffing my hair.  I promised her everything was alright.

I decided to go ahead and shoot up my insulin and take my other meds and fix some honest-to-God breakfast, not some Continental breakfast shit.

Sophie loves her some grits and scrambled eggs so I cooked enough for both of us.  I cleaned up the kitchen and headed for the shower.

I had to wash my hair four times.  Four times—just to get the majority of the goop out.  I took a brush to my hair and tried to work the rest out but decided to wash my hair in the sink one more time for good measure.

Then I laid down to take a power nap before I had to get ready to go to work.  All day long I was tired and aggravated.

When I got home from work I slept like a baby.  It’s true what they say—there’s no place like home. 

Now I’m just waiting for the results.  They say that 1 in 20 people have obstructive sleep apnea and that 50% never get tested.  You should check out the Sleep Study Questionnaire to see if you have the classic symptoms and get checked out.

My story may discourage you, but I want to be able to get a full night’s rest.  That is something I haven’t been able to achieve for a long, long time—perhaps years.  A new study has shown that sleep-disordered breathing is a marker for the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  Sleep apnea can lead to a fatal heart attack, it raises blood pressure and lowers the oxygen supply to every organ in the body and the disruptive sleep pattern puts pressure on the nervous system.  It is said that the brain and heart never enjoy full repair and rejuvenation as long as sleep apnea goes untreated.  So I would encourage anyone who reviewed the questionnaire at the link that feels they may be suffering from SDB to get checked out.  The test is truly a pain in the ass but having a chance to end the vicious cycle of trying to get a good night’s sleep and never achieving it is worth it.

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