Wires, wires and more wires

Back in May and June I tried to get back on track to get all my pending health issues addressed.  My general practitioner suggested that I go for a “sleep study” and gave me an order to meet with a specific ENT to make the arrangements, but I ended up scheduled to see the ENT who performed the two myringotomy procedures I’d had in previous years and he made the arrangements for this sleep study.  The other ENT that my GP recommended was not in-network for our insurance…

In the middle of June we all went over to Singapore and on June 17th, in the evening, I went to Glen Eagles Hospital and checked myself in for the sleep test.  Carolyn, the kids and Papaw were all staying at a nearby hotel.

Soon after I got checked in I was led to a private room in one of the wards on a high-up floor, and shortly after that a guy came by and took my breakfast order and brought me a pitcher of water.  Within an hour a Filipino guy showed up with a briefcase and got to work wiring me up.  He stuck electrodes to my chest, put some gel in my hair and hooked more to my head and face, tide some band around my chest, put something on my finger and fitted a tube around my head and into my nose and mouth.

All of the wires were connected to a little battery powered input module that was attached to that band around my chest.  I told the guy that the tube sticking in my mouth was annoying as hell and he said it was ok to try and bend it out of the way but that didn’t work at all because after a few seconds it would pop back into my mouth.

All of those sensors were there to measure different things as I slept, like my breathing patterns, my oxygen levels, my heart rate and so on.  All the data would be stored in that input module and the following morning the guy would return and collect it so that the data could be analyzed by software that would determine whether or not I had any problems occurring while I slept.

That night of sleep was miserable…  It was impossible to get comfortable with all those sensors stuck everywhere and wires all over me.  The tube in the mouth was a pain too.  I tossed and turned, only getting 30 minutes of sleep here and there until about 3:30am, when I finally passed out from exhaustion.  The following morning the guy came around 9am and pulled everything off and after another 2-3 hours I was discharged from the hospital.

Another two weeks or so went by until I went to see my ENT for the sleep study results.  He only met with me for about 3 minutes but gave me some pretty bad news.  He said the study showed that I have horrible sleep apnea, where you stop breathing while you’re asleep and then you wake up gasping for air and never really get into deep sleep.  That would explain why I am always tired and why I wake up 5-6 times a night and feel like I am out of breath each time.  He said my case was extremely dangerous and I could actually have a heart attack at any moment because the data showed I stopped breathing 68 times per hour!  The worst part was that my oxygen levels had gotten down to 40% multiple times throughout the night, meaning my heart was getting basically no oxygen – that is what causes a heart attack.

My ENT said I needed to start by getting a machine called a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), which essential forces air into your nose or mouth so that it keeps the airway open and prevents it from collapsing, which is what stops your breathing.

I eventually got this fancy machine that has a mask I wear at night.  I hardly make it through the entire night with it on because somehow my airway still collapses and the pressure in this air tube builds up so much that I wake up with this mask literally blowing itself away from my face.  I do try to wear it for about 4-6 hours a night, and I have been able to make it through entire nights (7-9 hours) wearing it the whole time on some occasions, but it isn’t a very pleasant way to sleep.

Here are a few shots from my sleep test setup, and one of Papaw from the Korean BBQ place we always go to in Singapore, having lunch the day of my study: