Last night, I had an appointment with the Sleep Clinic at Queensway Carleton Hospital.
Rosa has told me that I sometimes stop breathing when I sleep, which is a characteristic of sleep apnea. I am often tired (but functional) during the day, and always assumed that this was because of my long work hours. I am frequently working late into the evening – I have conference calls twice a week with the team in Beijing that last until 11:30pm.
I called my doctor to see what can be done. He set up an appointment with the Sleep Clinic at the Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH). The appointment took a little over a week before I went in to the clinic.
I arrived at 9:30pm, checked in and filled out the required forms. Around 10pm, I was led into a room with a bed and lots of equipment and wires. Once I change into my sleep clothes, two technicians started applying the wires. I had two wires on each leg, one on each shoulder, one behind each ear, one on the top of my head, two on my forehead and one on each check. These would pick up the electrical activity from my muscles moving. They secured a strap around my chest and one around my stomach to check my breathing. They put a heart rate monitor on my finger. Lastly, they added a tube with two projections that fit below my nose that measures if I am breathing. In one corner by the ceiling was a video camera that presumably would see in the dark.
Once wired up, I was helped into the bed to go to sleep. It was hard to sleep. The bed was hard, especially under my shoulders. It was surprisingly cold, and I had to ask for another blanket – the A/C was blasting out full! The noise of the fan was also distracting. On top of all of that, I was worried about accidentally pulling out all of the wires, so I could not move around to get comfortable. Normally, I’ll turn on one side and then the other and finally on my back before I fall asleep.
I woke up a number of times during the night. Three times there were balloons that popped just outside my room, as one of the staff had had a birthday earlier in the day shift. During the night, I could feel my headache from the previous day returning. This was partly because I was stiff from not moving, and because the bed under my shoulders felt very hard.
By the time morning arrived, I had a migraine. Wake up was just before 6:00am.
The technicians came back in the room to remove the wires and other measuring devices. I got dressed and walked to the bathroom. I had considered going in to work after the sleep study, but I decided against it before coming to the QCH. I’m grateful for that, because when I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror, I discovered that the wires had been attached to my scalp with this horrible, gooey soft-wax-like substance. My hair (what little I have) was matted and stuck out – I looked like a crazy homeless person in dress slacks.
I tried to pull as much of the goo out by hand, but it made little difference. I just wanted to get enough out that I could walk out to my car without everyone staring at me.
I drove home, took a hot shower to wash my hair and went to bed to get about 30 minutes of sleep before the alarm went off.
I hope that the technicians will find something. They said that they are only there to count the data points (such as survey my breathing rate, count how many times I toss and turn, etc). They send that data to a sleep specialist who will sent a report to my doctor in a few weeks.
Thinking about the night, I don’t think I slept well enough to be able to see some of the issues that Rosa was reporting to me.