Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Deep and Dreamless Sleep

Last night was my sleep study. In the event you have a burning desire to know what happens during a sleep study, this is the post for you.

At 8:00 PM, I presented at the emergency room of the hospital where my study was scheduled to occur. A physical therapist named Roger came to collect me, and I followed him to the seventh floor of the hospital, carrying my favorite goosedown pillow and my overnight bag.

The setup was interesting. Roger sat in a control room with windows that looked out onto two sleep study rooms. Since the person who was scheduled along with me last night didn't show, I was the only patient he'd monitor.

My room was like every private hospital room I'd ever been in with a single exception. It had a narrow hospital bed with the standard tray table on wheels, two visitor chairs, a television on a wall stand and a sink. I was a little taken aback by the sight of the camera over the bed. At my question, Roger acknowledged his plan was to watch me sleep the entire night. He'd lowered the blinds on the window between us so the light from his control room wouldn't bother me. He explained that he could either leave a low light on in my room so he could see me on the camera, or he could wear night goggles. I opted for the low light because the night goggles just creeped me out.

After I'd put on my Lanz of Salzburg gown and brushed my teeth, Roger began hooking up the electrodes, using some blue gooey stuff. There were 23 of them (I counted) and two belts that resembled bungy cords. Starting at my feet, there were two electrodes on my legs (to check for restless leg syndrome), a bungy cord around my stomach, a bungy cord around my chest, two electrodes just below my shoulders and 19 electrodes on my face and head. The most annoying ones were a pair of probes in my nostrils and one just in front of my upper lip. There was also a finger monitor on my left hand.

Once he'd hooked me up, Roger left me, after suggesting I wave at the camera when I was ready to go to sleep. Over the mike (yes, he could both hear and speak to me on an intercom system), he directed me to look left, right, up and down so he could check his controls.

By now it was 9:00 PM so I watched part of an episode of Law and Order, Criminal Intent, but abandoned it to read the latest Robin Schone erotic romance (see here). Robin was the first erotic writer whose work I fell in love with, bringing me back to the romance genre after an absence of many years. She hasn't had a release in almost six years so I was thrilled to see Scandalous Lovers. If you have never read an erotic romance, this is the one to read--beautifully done with tons of interesting details about Victorian England.

I wanted to watch Saturday Night Live, but realized I was getting drowsy. I'd spent the whole day running around, getting ready to leave town on Monday. I'd visited my neighbors, called the security company that monitors my house, gone to the cleaners, two Targets, the bookstore, Office Depot, and made half a dozen other stops during the afternoon. At 10:45, I told Roger to switch off the lights. Despite my misgivings that I wouldn't be able to sleep with someone watching me, I was able to drift off within a few minutes.

Unlike normal hospital stays, this was different in the sense that there were NO outside noises. In fact, I think Roger, a woman tech and I were the only occupants of the seventh floor.

I wouldn't describe my sleep as undisturbed. Usually I sleep a straight six hours with one bathroom break somewhere toward dawn. I woke up at 11:30, 2:00, 4:00, and 5:15. Two were because I simply woke up; two were because Roger woke me up to reattach electrodes I'd managed to dislodge. He also requested that I sleep at least 30 minutes on my back (I like to sleep on my right side).

At 6 AM, he came to wake me, saying that the study had gone well. Of course, he wouldn't tell me a darn thing, saying that my doctor would be in touch as soon as the sleep study physicians had time to review my results.

Stay tuned . . .


Emjay said...

You were brave to wear a gown.

I'm surprised you weren't in your bunny jammies with feet.

Maya Reynolds said...

Emjay: It was a floor-length flannel gown. Knowing how cold most hospitals are, I wanted to be prepared.