by TIM HAHN
I always knew I was destined for a night in a basement bedroom of some medical clinic. I just figured it would be a more-restful visit.
I recently spent some fitful hours at a local sleep clinic to be tested for possible sleep apnea. The visit was done at my request, in large part for the benefit of my wife, because I'm told that I'm a loud snorer.
But that's only part of it. Amy tells me I have the "jimmy leg," and that sometimes I snort and stop breathing.
I figured I snored loudly because my dad did. His snoring was so loud that you could hear it from the street outside of our house, which was a great way to know when it was safe to sneak into the house after a night of drinking adult beverages when I was a teenager.
The leg kicks and the stopped breathing concerned me more, so I scheduled the appointment.
Before my visit, I talked to a lot of people I know who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. They mostly talked about their continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machines, and how wearing them at night makes them feel more rested and energetic.
They skipped the part about how hard it is to sleep at the clinic.
The first hint of trouble came when the technician wired me up. After a half-hour of having probes glued all over my head and on other parts of my body, he told me that if one of the probes fell off, he would have to come into the room, wake me up and put it back on.
Then he told me that if the monitoring determined that I had significant apnea, he might have to wake me up and have me use a CPAP machine.
Our conversation ended when the technician said that I would be awakened by 5:15 a.m., which was less than seven hours away.
I tried to sleep. But I kept thinking about being awakened. So I jumped at every noise, thinking the technician was coming in to fix a probe or to slap a breathing mask on me.
I tried to get comfortable, but I was afraid of knocking a probe loose if I moved too much.
Things didn't get much better after I awoke. After getting 15 minutes to wash the probe goo out of my hair and get dressed, I was left with a decision about what to do before my workday started in two and a half hours.
It didn't make sense to go home because the family was still sleeping and I would only have about a half-hour to spend there before I would have to leave for work. And I didn't want to go to work that early.
I ended up going to a nearby McDonald's, where I killed an hour reading the paper and sipping coffee, surrounded by a half-dozen old guys who did the same.
I still got to work early, but I did OK. Until about 1 p.m., when the lack of sleep caught up to me and I spent the rest of the afternoon in a daze.
I haven't gotten the results of my sleep study test yet. But if the next step involves a return visit to the sleep clinic, I'm bringing my wife with me.
If she thinks I'm hard to sleep with, wait until she gets a load of that place.
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