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Do you need a CPAP device for sleep?

August 6, 2017

Photo on 4-28-17 at 11.22 AM

August 6, 2017

At 8:30 p.m., through the St. Vincent emergency entrance I carried my pillow, my pajamas, and a book (Adrian Mole:  The cappuccino years).  I had instructions to take elevator A to the hospital third floor, then turn left, well, I knew I would be close. Signs pointed the way to the sleep study department.  Through a door and into a short hallway a friendly black face greeted me through a half-closed door.  I greeted a nurse, “I’m Dan Struckman.  I’m here for an appointment.” She answered, “You sure are.  Here’s your room.”

I expected a hospital bed.  Instead, there was a queen-size bed with the covers turned down and four long wires with electrodes in an array.  The bedside table, a standard issue hospital kind, had too many wires and electrodes to count, various colors.  Hanging on the wall was a 5-inch plastic device shaped like a head sporting an array of holes — to accommodate the electrodes, I thought.

The nurse returned and invited me to change into my pajamas, then I was to crack the door of my room to signal my readiness.

I sat in a bedside chair and waited.  And waited.  I read my book.  I lost interest in my book.  I spied a questionnaire on a clipboard labeled “Pre-sleep questionnaire.”  I filled it out completely.  Then I waited.

Then an amplified, mysterious voice from an unseen speaker asked me to look to my left so she could take my picture.  She asked me to smile.  I didn’t disappoint her with my million dollar smile, as I turned my face toward a black ball on the ceiling.

After waiting another interminable time I moved the wires and got in bed, kicking my feet between the sheets.  I decided she had forgotten me.

When the nurse re-entered the room, finally, she invited me to sit back in the chair and she attached electrodes to perhaps six or eight places on my head, right on my hair, with a longish piece of tape holding.  She attached wires to my jaw to detect jaw clenching, she said.  She attached a device into my nostrils to detect mouth breathing, she gathered all of the wires and made a pigtail of the lot with a plastic sheath.  Last, she fastened electrodes to each leg, she said, to detect leg movements.

She chatted amiably the whole time she worked.  At last she had me lie down in bed, she turned off the lights.  The disembodied voice asked me to look up, down, side to side, wiggle my feet, open and shut my mouth, and make a snoring sound.  Then she asked me to simply speak to her if I needed to use the bathroom or anything.  It was dark.

I’m used to sleeping in a straight line, so I lay down and thought about girlfriends, old and new.  I think I fell asleep and woke up with cold legs and feet, so I asked the nurse out loud for another blanket.  Instantly the door opened and she brought in a blanket.  She fastened a device to my nose that blew air constantly.  If I opened my mouth air blew out, so she wrapped an ace wrap under my chin and over the top of my head to keep it shut.

After a long time I had to use the bathroom, so I told her aloud.  Again, the door opened instantly and she unhooked the wires.  She offered to let me stay up because it was 5:30 and wakeup time was 6.  I opted for the half-hour of sleep.  I was surprised the night was nearly over.

She told me that I had snored and was prone to shallow breathing.  She said they would fax a supplier a prescription for a CPAP nose contraption to correct my sleep time breathing.

The nurse said I would need a CPAP if I was prone to snoring, if I had periods when I stopped breathing, or if my sleep was disrupted by another trouble breathing so that I couldn’t sleep soundly.  She said astronauts and pilots have to have sleep studies, such as I had.  Poor sleep is associated with strokes and heart attacks, she said.

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One Comment
  1. Val Ehli permalink

    Mark has to have a CPAP and although they are not the most romantic items to have near, it does help him breathe through the night. Quite an experience for you.

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