My Life as a Borg

The tiredness descends:
Like a fog it surrounds me
Chokes the light, the life.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was with some amount of kicking and silent screaming that I went to the sleep center for an evaluation. “Who me? Sleep Apnea? No way…” I kept repeating.  But 3 skeptical looks from the sleep doctor while taking my personal history, and one terrifying bit of understanding later, I had booked a sleep study. Although unenthusiastic, I felt the best way to silence everyone was to take the damn test.

The test was actually fun. Well, fun in the “I’ve never done this before so might as well enjoy it” kind of way. The staff was lighthearted. I had my own room with a TV and no other family members… it felt a little like summer camp, only a summer camp where they hook you up to machines via wires attached all over your body.  That would be a creepy summer camp if I didn’t look so hysterical.

I took a picture of myself all wired up which I will NOT share here, or ever. I was fully clothed in my PJs and you could clearly see I had things attached to my face, my head and my chest under my shirt.  There were wires down my legs and attached to my shins.  I had two black belts wrapped around my body above and below the girls, which trust me was one of the least attractive things I have ever seen in my life.   When I saw myself in the mirror I burst out laughing and immediately took a picture and sent it to Frank. His reply was simple and to the point. “I want you.”

As you will accurately imagine, sleeping in a strange bed, with wires all over you, keenly aware that there is a low light video camera watching you and people listening to you sleep is a little on the difficult side. Took about an hour to fall asleep even with the help of a lovely little Rx. Imagine my surprise and dismay, then, when what seemed like 15 minutes later, the tech came in and woke me up.

“We’re going to go ahead and have you sleep with the CPAP machine,” she said.

Uh-oh, I thought. They prepped me for this. If this happened, it meant that I clearly was testing positive for sleep apnea and they wanted to see how I did with the mask on.

“Okay.” I mumbled. How in god’s name was I going to sleep with all the wires and Darth Vader mask on my face. These people had moved from being lighthearted and kind to unrealistic jerks. And then I asked a question.

“So I must have stopped breathing some then, huh? How many times did it happen?”

“In the last two and a half hours, about 50 times an hour.”

Long pause.

“50? Like five zero?” Praying I mis-heard one-five…

“Yes, five-zero.”

Holy be-jeebers. “Where’s the machine…”

Thus began my life as a sufferer of sleep apnea. The next 4 hours were entirely restful – yes, restful —  mask, wires, cameras and all. The next day, surely it was in my head, I had a tremendous amount of energy. I started to think about how tired I was all the time — the tired that is just below the surface which I have always been master of — could it be that that feeling might go away? And that the energy that people always remark that I have naturally (I don’t use caffeine) might get even higher?

Two weeks ago I got the official results of the test — talk about eye-opening and depressing.  I’m not sure how I was functioning on a daily basis if that test was any indication of my normal sleep quality.  And now I’m here, 2 weeks into sleeping each night with Snuffy, as in Snuffaluffagus (my name for my CPAP machine) to tell you that I feel great.  Yes, I have more energy. No, I don’t feel dead dog tired as often as I used to.  There have been only a few drawbacks, if you want to call them that. One, Frank says that now I am freakishly quiet and still while sleeping. He’s had over 19 years of snoring to deal with — and snoring more in the 18 wheeler range than the Ford Focus  range. Now I sleep on my back, quietly, still-ly. He says it’s a little weird.  I also haven’t figured out how to not wake up with strange marks on my face from the mask — clearly a vanity issue, but something I’m not enjoying. And lastly, I wonder what the kids are thinking. They get the concept, but how odd to come into your parents’ room and see your mom with a weird elephant-like tube snaking from her face. I’ve gotten very good at snatching it off the instant I hear our door open.

So there you are – I’ve become assimilated. I am now, at times, more machine than me.  But I’m pretty much ok with that. Unfortunately for my family and friends, I’m now telling everyone they need to “get the test” because it clearly cures everything just look at me… I’m sure that will wane as the novelty of feeling rested wears off and the assumption of feeling great takes over.  That’s kind of cool.

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9 Comments

  1. My mom had to go get tested for sleep apnea overnight, but I think it was inconclusive or she didn’t actually have it. Which is good, since she doesn’t have to use the machine, but bad, because she still has sleeping problems.

    Reply
    • the machine really isn’t that bad… the latest ones are actually very comfortable (calling it a darth vadar mask isn’t really fair of me…) 😉

      Reply
  2. My brother-in-law just did the whole test and he woke 70 times in an hour, so you’re not so impressive! I probably need to go to a sleep clinic–I definitely snore if I sleep on my back–so I don’t (at least when I snort myself awake and force myself to roll over…)

    Reply
  3. Haha! Just wait until you get to travel with your Darth mask. My father went through airport security with his and was very anxious that they were going to mix up his parts with the parts of the OTHER Darth mask that they were investigating at the same time. They just need to start a special line for traveling Sleep Apneans.

    Reply
    • i hadn’t thought of that, although nothing tops going through security with a breast pump and freshly expressed milk. that’s a treat…

      Reply
  4. I loved your story, well told…and it is so much like mine. I’m now 5 years into CPAP; it’s a love-hate relationship. With regard to strap marks, there’s a woman named Karen (who also has sleep apnea) and she makes strap covers that help. Her company is called Pad-A-Cheek and is online. Of course, you could sew your own, but not me…and hers seem to last forever.

    Reply
  5. I know lots of people with CPAPs. I think we’ll all end up being “hooked up” sooner or later. 😉

    Reply

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