June 28, 2011

The Sleep Study

So I had my sleep study on Sunday. I know you're just dying to know how it went, so let me dig right in.

The sleep center is located along the subway route, so I was able to make my way down via public transit. Even with our new zippy A3, I hate driving. And I don't like driving in the evening anymore, because I get really drowsy. Admitting to this, of course, makes me feel really old. Especially considering how I'd be gallivanting all over town in my 2001 Civic a mere 10 years ago, driving between the boonies (Markham) and downtown TO, not getting home until 1am. If you partied hard in high school and/or university, you are probably laughing at me. That's okay. I know I am a goody-goody.

Anyway, back to the sleep study. We had a playdate earlier in the day, and we'd stayed over for dinner (thanks again, Mr. and Mrs. Shiny). Unfortunately, we had to rush out of there after dinner, because I had to be at the center for 8pm. When we got home, I packed, and rushed out the door. I'd already told PK throughout the day that I was not going to sleep at home that night, to get her used to the idea. She said that she would not cry. Though when I left, she was extra-clingy. And then apparently she bawled her eyes out because she had been waving at me from the kitchen window as I left, and I hadn't even thought of looking up as I'd left (I always do when I go out). I didn't realize this until much later, and of course, I felt totally guilt-ridden.

I got to the center just in time. The instructions on my requisition form stated that I needed to ring the overnight bell when I got there. I was supposedly being met by a security guard. I rang the bell twice. No dice. Then I called the center. The guy who answered had a thick accent. He didn't understand me when I said I was waiting outside. He instead thought that I was trying to book and appointment and said he'd hang up to let the machine pick up. Gah!!! Fortunately for me, there were two other people waiting in the lobby (why didn't I think of opening the door?), and were being whisked upstairs by one of the staff, who happened to notice me loitering outside, looking confused and flustered.

When I got upstairs, I was taken to my room, and asked what time I'd like to go to bed. I said between 10:30 and 11pm. The lab tech gave me some forms to fill out, and after that, I sat there and fiddled around with my iPhone and tried to read a bit. I wasn't really sure what I should be doing. Should I get changed? Should I call the tech to see what was going on? I'm a little anti-social, so I just sat in my room. I realized partway through that I was crazy thirsty and that I hadn't brought any water with me. Panic set in. Did they have water there? Would I be awake all night, thinking about how thirsty I was?

Eventually, the lab tech came by saying that she'd be there in 15 minutes and that I should go to the washroom if I needed to. That was my queue that I should probably get into my PJs. When she came back, she took down my height, weight, neck circumference, and blood pressure. Apparently I have normal blood pressure. This was surprising, considering that most days, my heart is pounding from stress/anxiety. I asked about the neck circumference part. Apparently people with unusually thick necks are more prone to having sleep apnea. Good to know. While my blood pressure was being taken, I noticed a water cooler and asked if I could have a drink. I finally got some water into me. Whew!

Then the fun part began. She started sticking electrodes on to me. First it started with my legs. Then up to the chest and shoulders. And then the face, neck, and head. She put this weird goop on my hair to make the electrodes stick. I was starting to think that I shouldn't have bothered straightening my hair that day. Though I have no pictures to as evidence, by the time she was done with me, I probably looked like a cyborg. I did a bit of digging online, and found this picture, which should give you an idea of how goofy I looked. There were wires everywhere. She asked me if I needed to go to the washroom again. The thought of having to drag all of those wires to the washroom with me was a total put-off, so I opted to not go.

Once I got into bed, she hooked up all of my wires to a bunch of equipment located next to the bed, and turned out the lights. She then got into her control room and had me do a bunch of different things for benchmarking purposes, like moving my eyes up and down, blinking, grinding my teeth, moving my feet, and breathing through my mouth. The breathing through my mouth part was the most excruciating, because it just kept going and going. Very uncomfortable. After all of the benchmarking moves were recorded, it was off to sleep for me. Though before I could enter dream land, the tech came in 2 more times to fix a couple of things. The first time was to fix one of the abdominal straps (there were two - one at my waist and one at my chest). This was a bit annoying, because she made it too tight and that bothered me. I fiddled with that for a few minutes to loosen it. The other thing she fixed was the breathing monitor. I totally forgot to mention the breathing monitor. That was the most annoying equipment (well, besides the electrodes stuck to my hair). The breathing monitor looked like a little U-shaped device with two prongs. Each prong went into a nostril. To keep the device in place, she had to tape the wires to my face. There was lots of tape. I ended up having an allergic reaction to the tape the next day. I totally looked like someone beat me.

Finally, I could go to sleep. Except...I couldn't fall asleep. I was on my back the whole time, afraid of moving, and that was totally non-conducive to sleep. I was really tired too. I'd napped with PK earlier that day, and fell asleep in the car on the way back from our playdate. I got maybe 4 hours of sleep. And of course, no night terrors. Which sucked. Because I really wanted to have an episode and have it caught on camera, in all its glory. Except I hadn't had an episode since last Tuesday. Totally annoying.

The tech woke me up shortly after 6am, and proceeded to take the wires off. My hair looked a mess from all that crusty goop, and I was groggy as hell. I was totally looking forward to coming home and having a nice shower.

At home, I was met by the hubby and by PK, who were already awake and getting ready for work and school. I was told that they both had a really good sleep. Cue in extra feelings of guilt for causing such restlessness in my household. I really hope that this thing gets resolved. I have a follow-up with a sleep specialist in 2 to 4 weeks. They're supposed to call me to book something. I was at first pretty hopeful. But then I talked to my sister yesterday. She's a psychiatrist and knows about these things.

First off, these sleep studies aren't the be-all-end all that many people think they are or want them to be. Drugs can be prescribed for dealing with night terrors, though going the route of taking drugs is usually avoided because the options suck. Either you get stuck with a class of drugs like Valium, which are addictive, or another class of drugs which, among other things, cause weight gain. The best course of action appears to be psychotherapy. Which would be great, except that it's nearly impossible to find a psychiatrist practising psychotherapy around here who will take new patients. The wait lists are crazy. You can find TONS of psychologists practising psychotherapy, but the problem is that psychology services aren't covered by OHIP. So we'll see. For now, I may get myself onto St. John's Wort, which is a natural anti-depressant. It has apparently worked for many people with night terrors. Perhaps it will work for me too.

Anyway, we'll see what happens. I am still looking forward to the follow-up with the sleep specialist. Who knows. Maybe he or she will be able to do something for me. And bring some nighttime peace to my household.

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