Oct 27, 2005
"I Tried to Sleep, But I Was Too Wired"
I spent Tuesday night and Wednesday day at the Duke Hospital Sleep Lab.
On Tuesday night they attached about forty wires to my head, torso, and legs then told me to lie flat on my back and go to sleep. You tell me who can go to sleep like that. But I did, for about ten minutes. Then I woke up and couldn't sleep again for at least two hours until they told me, "If you don't fall asleep by 2:30 a.m., we have to cancel tomorrow's daytime tests, which means you'll have to reschedule and repeat the nighttime test."
You tell me who can go to sleep with that kind of pressure. Usually, not me but this time I did. And apparently I didn't show anything that looked like snoring-induced sleep apnea, which meant I got to sleep straight through the night for a whole 'nother 4 hours until 6:30 a.m.
Next stop, the daytime lab where they laid me out in a dark room for twenty minutes every two hours to see (a) if I would fall asleep and (b) what would happen in my head if I fell asleep. Sure, I fell asleep within four minutes every time at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. In this, I am not surprised. It appears that I do not have narcolepsy (or my Own Private Idaho) -- which they determined by noting that I didn't experience REM sleep in any two naps in a row.
Between tests, I left the hospital and ran errands around town. You'd be surprised how few people stare at a dark-skinned dude walking into a store with wires attached to his head and body. ("Here! Take as many used books as you'd like! Just don't blow us up!") But you might also be surprised at how many people do just stare at the oddity walking down the street.
Stats: four people asked if I was dressed for Halloween. One young MD asked if the wires made me itch (they didn't). Said she, "I'm always ordering those for my patients but I have no idea what it feels like." She later told me that she plans to do pediatric neurology but at the moment is working with old people, "Old stinky people who have had strokes and can't bathe themselves." Here's to the kind and gentle in healthcare.
Also of note: at breakfast in the cafeteria I saw someone from the cardiology department order two eggs and six pieces of bacon. His colleague had the hash browns with biscuits and sausage gravy.
You remind me of the Michael Whelan cover art for All my Sins Remembered: http://www.paperbackfantasies.com/images/whelan/HaldemanAll.JPG A friend of mine has a tattoo of this cover on his arm.
Posted by: Joseph H. Vilas | Oct 28, 2005 6:29:53 PM
Joe -- thanks for the comment. I like the cover (especially since my chest and legs were also wired). And damn, I wish I were that buff.
Posted by: Phil | Oct 28, 2005 10:09:49 PM
No way in hell could I sleep with that crap all over me. Wait a second I am in the hospital because of anxiety and the docs wonder why I can't sleep when I'm dressed up like a printed circuit board? Yikes.
I have anxiety but the one thing that is starting to change that for me is re-reminding myself of Letting Go. Many people talk about letting go from Alcohol Anon to Codepend Anon to
spiritual seekers. Now it has finally reached my
thinking to make it a daily practice. It does help the anxiety because it works on the hamster wheel thinking loop that can run your soul into the ground.
Closing note....Life is too short not to enjoy bacon.
Posted by: Jim | Oct 28, 2005 10:28:58 PM
I did a sleep study in December 2004 at UNC. Did they scrub your scalp with sand like evilness until it was raw before they glued the wires in? Don't that hurt like a bi-atch? I slept almost no problem, though, and did not have any daytime tests. Nor did I have sleep apnea. (though I do snore)
When I've had EEGs in the past (epilepsy...so many brain problems!!) they don't glue it in. So that was much better.
Anyhoo, I'm kind of struck at some parallels in our medical histories. My theory is that smart people like us have more brain problems.
OK, I am rambling.
Posted by: Jenny P | Oct 29, 2005 9:50:31 AM
ray did the same test at duke, and he couldn't sleep either.
Posted by: christa | Oct 29, 2005 2:25:05 PM
I could probably sleep under such circumstances. My husband wants me to do a sleep study so they can find out how I can fall asleep so quickly, virtually anywhere. I think college was just a training ground for my current sleep abilities. :)
Posted by: Di | Oct 31, 2005 5:26:14 PM
it was torture, they expected me to sleep without tossing and turning all over the place. no evidence of apnea. sheesh no evidence of much speeling at all. just anesthetize me next time, i'll be in better shape to face the next day.
the vocab word for the day is CPAP, pronounced CEE-pap. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. the contraption they strap onto apneics. most swear by its benefits.
Posted by: ray eat when hungry sleep when wired ubinger | Nov 1, 2005 9:45:58 AM
Great photo, Phil. Who took it?
Posted by: Grace | Nov 4, 2005 1:35:17 PM
Ray -- thanks for the definition, which I had been wondering about.
Grace -- thanks for the compliment! It was one of five that I snapped with the D50's remote control (you know, the thing I eventually figured out how via the RTFM method).
Di -- I look forward to posting the results (and finding out how much these studies cost, and (yikes) whether insurance readily covers them.
Posted by: Phil | Nov 7, 2005 9:40:16 AM
Thats a lot of stuff to try to sleep with. I don't see how they expect anyone to do that.
Posted by: Chewy | Mar 17, 2009 6:12:42 PM