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with Rod Moser, PA, PhD

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Sleep, Snores and Studies

Yes, I admit it. I snore. I come from a long, proud line of snorers, and although I rarely hear myself doing it, I have been told it is quite impressive. One night, my wife (also a snorer-in-denial) tried to videotape me. I was awakened by her setting up the tripod in a clandestine attempt to document my nighttime throat concert. I remained quiet and pretended to be asleep. After 20 minutes of my baby-like quietness, she turned off the camera and crawled in bed. Minutes later, SHE began to snore. Since the camera was already set up, it was an easy task to get her on tape. She was not happy about it.

Now, sleep apnea is another problem entirely. When you stop breathing for a prolonged period of time during your snoring, this can cause some serious strain on the ‘ol heart – a man’s second favorite organ. So, after a few years of threats and relentless begging, I finally agreed to a sleep study. I just got home from that experience. After two 12-hour shifts in the pediatric clinic, I was sure I would sleep like a log. Wrong.

I have never had a more uncomfortable night in my life. First, I was wired up like a robot put together by a two-year old. More than a dozen sensors stuck to my head, face, chest, legs, abdomen, up my nose, in front of my mouth; attached to my hairy body and face with gobs of disgusting glue. This stuff is on a man that can’t stand wearing a RING to bed.

I was led to my bedroom for the night, a standard hammock-like hospital bed that still had the faint impression of the fat guy from the night before. I was to lie on my back (not the sleeping position that I have been used to for a half a century) and patiently wait about two more hours — normal sleeping time. I tired of reading, but the wires all over my face annoyed me to no end. I was in multi-sensory overload for sure and very close to going insane. I had a pulse oximetry sensor on my right index finger, the one I would normally use to fish out an occasional rogue booger. Of course, I had one, and it was awkward for my nose to have a strange finger in there. I tried to watch TV, but there is something about a wired-up guy with bad vision and a 14 inch TV screen attached to a wall 20 feet away that was incompatible.

There were three other guys at the Sleep Center that night (in their own rooms, of course) including one very large Mexican fellow in the room next to mine. According to the experienced respiratory therapist, Mexicans are the maestros of snoring. I was able to confirm that observation over the next two more hours as he rattled my wall with the loudest snoring I have ever heard, with apnea pauses so long I thought he had died. I tried to use his snoring as some sort of “count the sheep” exercise, but to no avail. When the staff checked on me to find out why I was still awake at 2 AM, they understood why. The agreed to slap on a CPAP on him, a bizarre mask-like device that forces air into your lungs to stop the snoring and supply some needed oxygen to the brain. He finally quieted down, and I finally feel asleep…on and off, for about three more hours. I woke up at 5 AM, tangled in my wires and seriously needing to urinate. I figured there was no way that I would get back to sleep for the last hour of the test which ended at 6 AM, so I pulled off those damn sensors. Finally. Worst night of my life.

It is going to be a week or so before I get the results of my abbreviated sleep study, but I was told I didn’t do that bad (whatever that means); certainly better than my Mexican neighbor who will surely go home with a CPAP. I can’t imagine that I will be able to tolerate a CPAP…ever, both from the profound discomfort aspect and the obvious cosmetic effect. Maybe I will just dump my wife and look for a cute deaf woman.

Related Topics: Men’s Sleep Apnea Increases Heart Problems, Treating Sleep Apnea Helps Heart Failure

Posted by: Rod Moser, PA, PhD at 5:26 pm

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