Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sleep study from hell

If you ever get the chance to do a sleep study...don't. See if there is any way you can avoid doing it. it really was the worst medical experience (up until that point).

The reason why I am doing this is because my primary doctor will not prescribe me sleeping pills without the sleep study. She said that if I have sleep apena then the sleeping pills will probably kill me. Really. Kill me. So I decided to humor her. I get up in the middle of the night because of insomnia, not sleep apena. I know this. Justin has been sleeping next to me for 7 years - he knows this. I fall asleep just fine and wake up in the middle of the night, usually, with my mind racing of things I need to do the next day. Anyway, I said I would do the sleep study and so I was off to the clinic.

I get to the sleep clinic on a Saturday at 7pm. The room looks like a hotel room except with a shared bathroom, a microphone and video camera up in the corners of the room. There was a nice TV that I thought I'd be able to watch. Happy times, right? Not so much.

The technician has me change into my pajamas...shorts and a tank top. He then spends the next 45 minutes taping, gluing and attaching in other various ways about 40 different electrodes and monitoring devices to my legs, head, face, arms and fingers. How on earth do they expect someone to sleep? I was able to watch TV for about 1/2 an hour and was told to go to sleep.

My movements are very cautious because I don't want to rip off one of the electrodes as I try to get comfortable. After I lay down the technician has me do some different test movements of my body to make sure he can read each of the electrodes correctly. He tells me to lay on my back and fall asleep. Ummm...I don't lay on my back to sleep. I lay on my side. He says to lay on my back and try. I tell him that I don't and can't fall asleep that way. He said to fall asleep on my side and he will come in and wake me up and tell me to fall asleep on my back. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of falling asleep and staying asleep? Ummm you want to see how I sleep, let me sleep, don't wake me up.

I get somewhat close to falling asleep after 45 minutes of trying to sleep on my side...the tech walks in and tells me to rollover on my back. Thanks for waking me up, jackass. I follow his instructions and lay on my back. For an hour. Then he tells me to go onto my side as I am obviously not falling asleep on my back. Didn't I tell him that????

After not being able to fall back asleep on my side, I toss and turn. Heart jumping at each and every noise. The tech sneezed in the other room, my heart raced and I nearly jumped out of my skin. He went into the room next to me, my heart raced and I nearly jumped out of my skin. The woman in the room next to me coughed, my heart raced and I nearly jumped out of my skin. Are you getting the picture? This room is supposed to be sound proofed, it is so NOT!

In my tossing and turning, the tech barges in on me again, turns on the lights (without warning...I guess he figured I was up so it wouldn't matter) fixed an electrode on my leg (I had kicked it off) and leaves. Ummm...what about keeping a serene environment so I can, you know, SLEEP? I guess they don't expect anyone to sleep there, really.

After the tech leaves and after about 2 hours of trying to get to sleep it was about 4am when I started to fall asleep. And can you guess what happened? Thats right...the tech comes back in my room, turns on the lights, no warning...scares the crap out of me and says that they have to put the breathing mask on me because my breathing has slowed down. Color me stupid but doesn't your breathing always slow down when you are finally getting to sleep? He puts the mask on me and I'm delirious now and pissed off when he tells me to fall asleep on my back. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Didn't we go through that about 6 hours ago when I first went to sleep? So instead of putting up a fight, I laid there on my back. Except this time I was a total ass. I kept my eyes open (because I knew he could see me with his night vision video camera) and twirled my thumbs, literally. Because I'm an ass. After about 20 minutes he comes into my room and turns on the lights without warning (sensing a pattern here?) and tells me to roll onto my side so I can get some sleep. And I was finally able to sleep. And the tech thought it was because of the damned mask he put on he would have noticed right before he put the mask on me I was happily falling asleep without this hour diversion.

I was asleep for 1/2 an hour. Then guess what happened? He came into my room, turned on the lights and at 5:30 am told me the sleep study was over and I could go home.

Can you imagine how pissed off I was??????????????? Seriously, just imagine.

He removed all of my electrodes: off my face, my legs, my arms, chest, fingers and out of my hair. All the while leaving glue on me, everywhere. So I could not brush my hair at all. I changed into my clothes that I wore the night before. Looked in the mirror and noticed electrode marks all over my face, glue on my chin and an outline of the stupid mask around my nose. I was a pretty sight. But it was my charming demeanor that threw my beauty over the edge that morning.


Carol said...

I'm sorry it was so horrible. I would seriously rip into your Dr. for making you go through that. Not good! Not good AT ALL! I would also send a nice little thank you note to the tech that did you study - of course thanking him for waking you up numerous times, walking in and turning on the lights without notice and making noise while you were trying to sleep.

landon said...

Home Sleep Testing is now becoming an option to diagnose sleep apnea if that is what the doc was looking for. It is very easy to do, you wear a cannula (like people that have portable oxygen do) to measure your breathing and snoring. You wear one or 2 elastic belts, and a sensor on your finger and thats it! No technicians and you sleep in your own bed at home. And its much less expensive

RPSGT88 said...

Its certainly unfortunate you did not feel like you slept well during the sleep study. Some of the best quality studies occur when patients do not feel like they slept very much or very well at all! Techs are required to reposition the patient, fix wires, etc. which means they will very likely wake you up from time to time during the study!

Sleep studies are performed not to see how you sleep at home but to see how you sleep in a controlled environment. Only then can reliable diagnoses be made with which to help you sleep better in the future.

The technician should not have left any glue or residue on you. Shame on him!

To landon: Home Sleep Testing was recently approved in general by Medicare but severely restricted by its contractor's Local Coverage Determinations because HST provides only a fraction of the quality, reliablility and data obtained during a "gold standard" in-lab sleep study. HST has been proven to result in anywhere from 31-73% false positive results as well as false negative results. False positives mandate subsequent in-lab sleep studies to determine if patients truly have obstructive sleep apnea. False negative results are responsible for inaccurate diagnosis and increased morbidity and mortality.