Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Senior Sleep Disorders aka Sleeping at the MetroHealth Sleep Lab

When I had my retinal surgery, I had a breathing problem occur. Thus, before I got any more surgeries I had to go to a sleep lab to ascertain if I had sleep apnea, a condition where you continually stop breathing while sleeping.  (Seniors are at significantly higher risk of developing sleep apnea.) They test every sleep disorder at the center and, after I went through the checklist, I figured there must be at least thirty sleep disorders which can be tested. Last night was my test and I dutifully showed up at the Residence Inn at 8:30pm. MetroHealth maintains two suites there for sleep lab testing. The technician stays in the combo living room kitchen while there are two bedrooms on either side of her for the patients. MetroHealth maintains two of these suites there for sleep testing plus it has two other locations for sleep testing. It does the sleep testing seven days a week so can test 12 people a night for sleeping disorders.  The technicians must stay up all night to monitor us.

You are hooked up with electrodes all over your head and upper torso for monitoring by computer. Also, a camera records your sleep activities. You must thoroughly shower and wash your hair before you arrive and not put any products on your hair or skin as those would interfere with gelling the electrodes to you. To be blunt, I looked like the Bride of Frankenstein! These are a bit uncomfortable but you can sleep with them without incident. You can go to the bathroom by signaling the technician who unplugs one central cord.  I drank nothing so I needed to get up only once. Your hair is filled with gunk from the gel when these are removed plus is a horrible matted mess the next morning.  Although there is a shower in your room, I just went back home.

I am not a good sleeper so had concerns about being able to sleep.  However, I learned when I got there that I could listen to my devices to aid me.  When I got my cancer surgery, which involved a three week hospital stay, I learned a trick for being able to sleep through all the noise there.  I would listen to an audiobook over a mobile device.  I listened to Christopher Hitchens read Hitch 22 for half of the night on my iPhone.  After my bathroom break, I listened to Louis C.K. do stand up.  Both put me to sleep. (These were both repeat listens so I was not missing anything by falling asleep during the audio.)

My father also had to have this test done years ago but he had to show up to the University's sleep lab on campus.  My arrangement with being in an actual Inn for sleeping was much better than his. I encourage you to choose an Inn over a lab if you need to take this overnight test. The test was over at 6am.  A free breakfast in the lobby was included which was a nice touch. This goes with the suite rental for everyone who stays at the Residence Inn. Now I just wait for the results.  If I do not have sleep apnea, I can schedule surgeries again.

Three days later I got the results.  I have severe sleep apnea so have to go back for yet another night at the Residence Inn plus start treatment using a sleep apnea mask. I would like to ignore this whole thing but I cannot get anesthesia without treating this and I have 5 upcoming events requiring anesthesia: 2 cataract surgeries, 2 knee replacements and one colonoscopy.  So I have no choice but to get this treated.

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