Saturday 1/23/16, night – Emailed my doctor, describing symptoms of apnea and asking if she thought a sleep study would be a good idea and if so, to refer me. (Was hoping this carefully-worded email would save me a $25 office visit.)
Monday, 1/25/16, morn – Doctor replied that she’d entered a referral into the system, the sleep clinic would be calling me, and meanwhile I could watch a video about apnea and the services Kaiser could provide. Sleep clinic called about 5 minutes after I read my doctor’s email. I could have set up a same-day appt if I wanted, but scheduled for Wednesday. Watched the video that night.
Wednesday, 1/27/16, morn – Surprisingly, appt was a group thing, 4 patients. Technician issued us each a wristwatch-like device for plethysmography/pulse oximetry and respiration rate, and showed us how to use it. We were to wear it that night and return it the next morning before 9a. They also scheduled a follow-up appt for everyone for either the next Monday or Thursday, our choice. We were told this appt would be automatically cancelled if results didn’t indicate apnea. No charge this time either.
Thursday 1/28/16, 7am – Dropped off device.
Friday 1/29/16, morn – Checked my medical record via Kaiser’s online system, discovered a diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea had been entered.
Monday 2/1/16, morn – Follow-up appointment to learn about results. Another group, this time 15 patients. We were each handed a sheet with our results and seated at a U-shaped table with a CPAP unit for each participant. Senior doctor talked about apnea, the various types, its prevalence (30% of the population; now I understand why they’re handling us in groups!), history of diagnosis and treatment, all the myriad dangerous conditions it’s been linked to (including heart failure/attack, stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance/overweight, and even Alzheimer’s). We were told what the reference ranges were for mild/moderate/severe, and got a quick explanation of the other items on our results sheet. A hand-written number at the top right was our co-pay % for equipment if we decided to go with CPAP therapy. (People had varying amounts of durable medical device coverage depending on the specific plan they had. My out-of-pocket % was 0.) We were each issued a Respironics APAP for a week, were shown how to fit the nasal mask and operate the on/off and ramp buttons, and sent on our way. No charge for this visit either. Appts to return the machine were automatically set for the following Monday at 9a.
When I got home that evening, first thing I did was examine the machine, note that it had an SD card, and look for software that would read that card. I like being informed and involved in my own care, and it annoys me that these devices are dumbed-down for the patient, hiding most or all of the data and making the settings/adjustments accessible only by a doctor. Found the (free!) SleepyHead software (let us all sing its praises!) and set it up.
Monday 2/8/16, morn – After a week of reading this forum (thank you all! You've been of immeasurable help) and monitoring my data, I knew exactly what was going on during my sleep. I knew I wanted an APAP, knew I wanted to try a nasal-pillows type of mask, etc. I figured that there’d be a long delay after returning the test machine, during which I’d be negotiating with Kaiser and Apria. I was tensed for battle.
But it wasn’t necessary! Arrived at 8:45a for a 9a appt and was shown right in, where a doctor and a technician were each sitting behind laptops like two bank tellers waiting for customers. Turned in the case with all the equipment, and was told the mask and hose are mine to keep. The card was read, I was told what I already knew about my average AHI for the week, and then I was handed a brand-new case with a brand-new Respironics APAP. What’s more, I was also given a ResMed AirFit P10 nasal pillows mask which comes with three sizes of pillows. I didn’t even have to ask. So now I have two kinds of masks! They also handed me information about a drop-in support group, and they set up one more appt about 6 weeks out, to learn more about the device, including how to clean it and how/when to reorder supplies. No charge today either!
So, the whole process of getting diagnosed and equipped took only 2 weeks and cost me nothing except the time away from work to attend the appts. And now I am officially a Hosehead.