It's been a while, hasn't it? Yes, it has -- a long time since any real substantive content went here. There are reasons for that, none the least has been my departure from F5 and my start of work at Sourcelabs. I've been busy with other things, and tired all the time. Always so very tired. I was passing out at work, on the bus, at home -- I could barely keep two thoughts in my head at the same time, and it took real effort to do anything.
I'm hoping that has changed as of today, however. Thanks to my new health insurance, I was finally able to get the ($5000) sleep study and the ($2000) CPAP machine I needed to treat my sleep apnea. I spent last night at Virginia Mason Hospital's sleep center, and they had me on a CPAP machine for most of the night. The sleep study requires all manner of telemetry, from EKG to motion sensors that detect leg and arm movement to bands around your chest and abdomen that measure chest displacement while breathing. I was attatched to so many wires I felt like the Flying Spaghetti Monster, touching the medical world with My Noodly Appendage.
(I had to restrain myself from joking about it with the lab tech; he didn't seem like the sort to get it.)
So I had no end of trouble falling asleep with all that crap on me, but when I finally did the results were Not Pretty. The tech came in and had me start using the CPAP after what felt like a very brief span of time (I forgot to look at the clock). I really hated it. The mask fitted over my nose, but not my mouth, and I tend to breathe through my mouth a lot. I also experienced an instant claustrophobic reaction -- I could see my oximeter readout holding steady at ninety-six percent, which is perfectly normal for a human at rest, and yet I STILL felt short of breath. The damn thing bothered the hell out of me; it felt like it wasn't sending me enough O2, and I almost called in the lab tech to ask him what was wrong.
There was an oximeter on my finger, though, so I told myself that I was being neurotic and that if I really wasn't getting enough air the tech would have said something.
The sleep I got seemed fitful and full of vivid nightmares. The worst was one in which I dreamed was at home in bed with chemicallace
, but I was still hooked up to all the telemetry-gathering equipment, and something happened -- the wiring was unsafe, and something electrical snapped, and we were both electrocuted.
It was a hideously vivid sensation. I felt a terrible snap
as if a transformer had just exploded in my head, sending aftershocks through out my body. In the dream I could feel Allyson shuddering spastically against me as I struggled to pull the wires off of her, knowing that it was killing the both of us, but the electricity was too strong -- I was paralyzed, I couldn't move, I couldn't summon the will to pull the wires from her, let alone myself.
That was the worst of it. I didn't want these stupid wires to kill her, I was the one who had to wear them; it shouldn't hurt her, she shouldn't die from it. And I was powerless to stop it.
I woke up, finally, still feeling short of breath, and quite thoroughly terrorized. I wanted nothing more than to be free of the mass of wires and the mask and everything else. I laid back down in the dark and I guess I must have slept some more at some point, but I didn't really notice. I honestly believed I had spent the whole night lying there feeling like I was suffocating and that I'd hardly slept at all, but apparently I did.
"Did we get a result?" I asked, hoping this hadn't been in vain.
"We're not supposed to talk about results," said the tech, "but I'll say this: you have absolutely no business NOT being on a CPAP machine."
The next morning I met with the doctor assigned me, who happens to be the director of the sleep center. He showed me the data that had been gathered; it showed my apneatic cycle with bald clarity. Amazingly regular cycles: thirty seconds of labored snoring, and two minutes of choking, not breathing. Repeat all night. Two minutes. I can't even hold my breath for a full minute before gasping, while conscious.
The doctor said that he couldn't believe I have lived with this for so long. He said that the session had been very productive; they had the correct calibration settings for CPAP treatment recorded, and that I would be given one immediately.
I then met with another technician who ran me through the use of my new machine, which is a brand-new model. It's only been out for six months, and looks like a typical product of early-21st-century technology: handsomely functional black plastic, glowing controls, LCD panel. It's even got a smartcard reader-writer; it will continue to gather information about my breathing while I use it, and my doctor can view the information on it. It comes with its own carrying bag, which is handy, but the cursed thing is huge, bigger than my laptop bag. I won't be travelling light as long as I'm carrying that thing. Still, anything is better than sleep apnea. As an added benefit, it uses a disposable HEPA filter, so any allergy problems I might have will be vastly reduced as well.
The technician turned out to be a scuba diving enthusiast, so we chatted for awhile about diving before she fitted me with a mask. I opted for one that covers both my nose and mouth; it's far more comfortable than the nose-only mask I used during the sleep study, and if I breathe through my mouth it won't be a problem.
The doctor tells me that with the CPAP machine I do not snore (they have audio recordings to prove this), so I hope it will make Allyson rest easier also. For myself, I definitely feel less drowsy today, even though I would consider the sleep that I got last night to be very poor. I didn't feel any better in the morning -- felt pretty miserable and tired -- but as the day has worn on I have noticed no reduction in alertness, whereas before I would have had trouble keeping my eyes open at work. This is a huge improvement for me.
Apparently I can expect to continue to see such differences as time passes -- I've incurred a considerable metabolic debt, and both body and mind need time to recover from it. But over the next three months, I am told to expect considerable improvements in memory, concentration, and attention-span, as well as physical endurance. Also, sleep apnea disrupts the metabolism so severely that it makes it almost impossible to burn fat, interestingly -- so sleep apnea treatment should also help me lose weight. My apnea is most likely caused by weight issues in the first place, so when I lose enough weight, it will -- probably -- go away. And treating it will make it go away faster. So, this is all to the good.
I just hope I don't experience another psychological claustrophia reaction. I don't understand why I did in the first place; I don't have any other issues with things being put over my face, with masks or small spaces. Hopefully it won't reoccur, but if it does I guess I'll just have to deal with it.
Anyway, I am optimistic. I look forward to seeing how tonight goes.