I am told I have mild sleep apnea. I don’t understand where they get that. I don’t snore and my daughter on the other side of the wall from my bed never hears anything. But I am fatigued, bone tired, and more exhausted when I wake up than when I went to bed. Depression doesn’t fit my numbers or the way I live my life. Except for a couple of minor age related issues (oh joy) no other issue seems to be affecting me. So my doctor ordered a sleep study.
Terrified that I might have to be locked into an office building overnight – the stuff of horror flicks – I am given the option of wearing a recording device on my head overnight and then returning it for analysis. I picked the thing up near my doctor’s office where I was also instructed on its use.
Device is a loose term. It is really a collection of straps, tubes, and electronic chips which, when secured later that evening, gave my daughter a bout of hysterics and hiccups. Although it looked strange, it wasn’t terrible to sleep with so I had high hopes of an accurate read; that is, if I didn’t keep sneezing out the little nasal tubes.
Fast forward to the sleep study I receive in the mail. At least 2 apnea episodes lead to my diagnosis and to a new challenge of sleeping with tubes, machines, and assorted accessories. It’s now been a week since I began using my air machine and I have had some good days, some not so good ones, and one truly surreal experience.
I opted for the “pillows” style mask, a somewhat misleading term for something that sounds fairy-like yet plugs into your nose. It isn’t terrible but it’s not a spa experience, either. And don’t open your mouth or it will blow in your nose and out with your words. It is the voice of nightmares.
Then there’s the ramp. It is the system by which the air coming into your body gradually increases through the night, adjusting higher as it senses the pushback from the apnea. Mine is set between 4 and 20. The first days I would wake up and feel like a giant wind was taking my breath away. Thank goodness for that reset switch. I have gotten more tolerant to it in a week. Just this morning, I was taking my time, slowly waking to the rhythmic breathing which showed the ramp at almost 9.
Along with these different adjustments I’ve had to make came one of the creepiest experiences ever. On morning, I woke up at 3:45 am unable to speak. I was Wade Wilson in X-Men: Wolverine, wild eyed and mouth sewn shut. I must have fallen asleep with my mouth open and been dried out by the great north wind screaming from the depths of my nasal passage. I grabbed my water cup and managed to slide the straw through my tight lips, only to realize I couldn’t suck. Everything was stuck together and nothing would work. After several attempts, I finally got enough moisture in to create a wave of saliva which (too slowly) freed up my membranes. The humidifier comes out tonight because I refuse to use the face mask option. I am not Bane – I’m one of the good guys, Batman.