Friday, February 25, 2005

Sleep Study - Part 1

I took off work a bit early on Thursday, went home and rested for a little while then left for the hospital. After picking up some dinner, I arrived at the Fort Sanders Sleep Disorders Center at about 7:20pm.

I was instructed to bring some cotton pajamas, snacks and a drink if I wanted, and whatever meds I might need to take. Overnight bag in hand, I made my way from the parking garage through the hospital, then across the crosswalk to the Professional Building.

As I walked in the door of the center, I noticed "QUIET - SLEEP STUDY IN PROGRESS" signs peppered about the area. The office was deserted, though still well lit. As I stood patiently waiting for someone to show up, a young tech appeared and asked my name. I gave it to him, and he asked me to follow him back into the testing area. I was a bit surprised there wasn't more necessary to check my ID or insurance info, but he eventually led me through the halls to a testing room. It was pleasantly furnished, with a normal full-sized bed, a TV on the wall, a standard hospital chair and a lamp. The tech told me to make myself at home and another tech would be in to see me shortly. I tossed my bag on the chair and settled on the bed to wait.

Eventually the tech who was to coordinate my study came in. Her name was Jackie, and she reminded me of the character "Sam" on ER. She explained that she'd be hooking me up shortly, that she had another person to take care of and then she'd be in for me. She reiterated that I just take it easy and it wouldn't be too long. This was about 7:45 or so. I lounged and watched TV for a while. I also went ahead and changed into my pajamas.

Around 8:45, she came in and said she was ready. We went down the hall to a computer room where I sat in a chair and she attached to each of my lower legs electrodes with trailing wires. The wires ran up the pajamas legs, out the waistband, up my t-shirt and around the back to hang. These were to measure my leg movement during sleep, as a number of people have tendencies to kick and move their legs around. Next was a set of electrodes on either side of my upper chest. Their wires too slung over my shoulders and down the back. I wasn't certain what these were for, possibly for heart rate or respiration.

Then the fun part - my head.

There's a particular type of adhesive they use for these, which is a cold, goopy substance. She put the adhesive in about 7-8 different locations around my head, then after affixing the electrodes she used a compressed air device to blow really, really cold air on each of the nodes. Did I say it was really, really cold?? These devices would keep records of my brain wave patterns, mouth movement, eye movement and other actions during sleep.

A unit was placed around my face and under my nose to measure breath. It was actually a holder, for the actual measurement device would be placed right before I went to sleep. I wished I had shaved off my mustache before this, because it tickled :)

Two elastic straps were placed around my chest and around my abdomen to measure my breathing while asleep. They would expand and contract with me while I breathed and when matched with the breathing pattern in my nose and mouth would give them an idea how much oxygen was actually making it into my lungs.

A friend of mine said they heard it described as being wired up like a cheap stereo, and it was true. A metal box collected the ends of all the wires, and I could carry it around with me if I wanted to be mobile. I felt like a Borg as I walked back to my room, assimilating random people as I went. At that point it was around 9:15, so since I don't normally go to sleep until around midnight I told her I'd watch TV for a while, then read to fall asleep. I watched "The Apprentice", which was enough to put anyone to sleep.

(Next: Good night...)

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