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Close your eyes and imagine something with me if you will. It’s late evening. You are watching your favorite show on television, wearing your comfiest pajamas, and someone is blowing gently on your ear. Ahhh, that sounds lovely doesn’t it? Except you’re not in bed, you are sitting in a chair in a room that is not your own. You’re at a sleep clinic. The someone blowing in your ear is Andy, a technician who is blowing on your ear because he just glued a bunch of wires to your head and is using a can of frigid air to dry the glue so the wires don’t pull off of your head during the night when you’re sleeping. Dreamy, isn’t he?
That’s how I spent my Monday night. As part of the further adventures of Figuring Out What’s Wrong With Kari (see here and here for more), my doctor had referred me to the sleep clinic for a consultation last week. After our consultation, the sleep doctor predictably suggested I should probably do a sleep study. Not at all surprising since both of my parents have sleep disorders requiring medication and CPAP machines. I was not especially looking forward to it, especially because Ian had threatened to make me sleep on the couch if I came home with a CPAP machine. (I’m sure he was kidding. Probably.) I told my mom if the doctor gave me a CPAP machine I was totally blaming her & Dad. Being a reasonable and intelligent human being, she accepted full responsibility for the consequences of any genes she had provided to me. Until I told her if Ian kicks me out of bed, Emerson and I will be coming to live with her & Dad. Then she was all “It’s probably just something you ate. I’m sure it will go away on its own.”
But I digress. While Andy was gluing things all over me, I kept thinking of movie/TV scenes that seemed applicable to my situation. For example:
After slightly more than an hour of gluing and taping and gelling and adjusting of various wires and electrodes*, I was finally ready to plug in to The Matrix. “This is your last chance to go to the bathroom or whatever before I plug you in. Once I get you hooked up, you’ll need one of us to unhook you before you can get up again. Okay, so if you’re ready, go ahead and jump into bed.” This was obviously a figure of speech because there is no way I was jumping anywhere with 10 pounds of wires hanging from my head. I waited while Andy plugged me into the wall and sat as still as still as possible while he went back to the control room to take my brain for a test drive. Momentarily I heard Andy’s disembodied voice over the intercom giving me instructions to test that all the connections were working properly. “Hi Kari, can you hear me?” He pronounced it KAY-ree. I paused momentarily, wondering whether I should remind him that it’s KAH-ree, not KAY-ree, but then I remembered that this is the person who is in charge of watching me sleep and unplugging me from the wall if I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The last thing I need is to piss off that guy. So I responded “Uh…Yes I can.”
“Okay, I’m going to need you to go ahead and point your left toe forward, then point it up at the ceiling.” I did as instructed, and he proceeded through a list of movements, beggining each with “I’m going to need you to go ahead and…” Are you guys thinking what I’m thinking?
Eventually everything was proven to be connected and I was given the OK to go to sleep. “If you need anything,” Andy said, “just push that button and someone will be right here.” I tried to finish watching the home improvement show, but after a half an hour I was too tired to continue and resigned myself to a life where I simply would not know whether they chose to stay in their remodeled home, or list it and buy one of the great houses the real estate agent had found for them.** Before I could sleep, I had to resolve an important issue. I pushed the button, and when the technician came in the room I pointed meekly at the blanket at the side of the room and said “My feet are cold but I can’t reach that blanket…” like I was 6 years old and home sick from school. I almost felt like I should have a teddy bear as well.
Everyone has a favorite falling asleep position. I prefer to sleep on one side, with one leg bent. Normally it takes me just a few seconds to get into this position. With all the wires and tubes, on Monday it was a multi-stage operation, involving a minor turn, some adjusting of wires, another rotation, some more adjusting, and so on. It was not an easy task. Eventually I fell asleep. I woke up late for work. Then I decided to stop at Kmart for a pair of socks and some orange juice, and suddenly it was 2:30 in the afternoon and I realized my boss was going to kill me because I was supposed to be at work hours ago, and by the way why was it so dark already and how did I get outside? So THAT’s when I realized I was dreaming, and woke up. I was momentarily confused about where I was and slightly panicked that I might actually be late. However, my watch told me that it was somewhere around midnight so I was either not at all late for work, or I was REALLY late for work. I went back to sleep but as I do every night, I woke up repeatedly throughout the night. Let me tell you, I was VERY shocked. Oh, wait. I meant to say NOT AT ALL shocked.
When morning finally came around, a new technician woke me up for the ritual Plucking of the Scalp Hairs. Oh, sorry, I meant a technician woke me up to gently remove the wires from my hair after carefully dissolving the glue with a magic glue-eating solution. She told me the glue should mostly wash out with a good scrubbing in the shower. Friends, if you ever have the pleasure of participating in a sleep study, do not believe this lie. I scrubbed at my scalp for close to half an hour but made nary a dent on the little circles of red medical glue in my hair. I finally gave up the fight, accepting that I was simply going to spend the day with a leper-ish scalp. AWESOME.
So anyway, we definitely know that I wake up a lot when I am supposed to be sleeping. Sadly, I still have no idea why, what it means, or what to do about it. The biggest mystery now is whether I will get all the glue out of my hair before I get the results of the sleep study.
UPDATE 10/19/2012: I spoke with the sleep clinic today. They think I would benefit from CPAP and want me back for a second round of Matrixification. Color me shocked. On the plus side, this gives me hope that whatever my problem is, it might actually be treatable. I won’t go back until the beginning of November, but will keep my fingers crossed that the second study will be productive.
* Almost 2 dozen wires on my scalp, two on my left jaw line, one behind each ear, one under my chin, one under my left eye, and one above my right eye, 2 round electrodes over my collarbones, 2 on my ribcage, and one over each calf muscle. Also two stretchy blue belts which were wrapped around my abdomen and ribcage. I tried to take a picture but my phone was down to only 5% battery and refused to open the camera, so you will all just have to imagine it with your own brains.
** SPOILER ALERT: I totally looked it up on Wikipedia the next day. They stayed. What the hell did people do before the internet?