The Sleep Machine

This entry fall under the too much information category, but I want to vent about my sleeping condition.   It goes something like this:

...83% oxygen saturation...52 episodes lasting on average of 12 seconds...7.75 hours of sleep recorded.

The above is a summary of a little test I took last week.  If you’ve seen my [Flickr] photo stream you’ve seen these photos:

Sleep Apnea TestingSleep Apnea Testing

The little machine measured my oxygen saturation level as I slept, and recorded any episodes of not breathing or if I woke up.  Normal oxygen levels should be between 90-100, so mine was slightly off.  I was being tested for [sleep apnea].

I was staying over Susana’s house when she noticed I stopped breathing during my sleep.  This was a little over ten years ago.  I did get tested back then, where I was hooked up with elaborate probes across my body.  It short of reminded me of William Hurt in [Altered States] minus the water tank.  The results were never really told to me, though the doctor did notice I have a slight [deviated septum].  Operating was a possibility but never fully discussed.

Fast forward to the present: I found myself really tired these last several months even though I was getting sleep.  Farrah would be bothered by my snoring, so if anything I wanted to get seen for trying to alleviate that snoring.  I’ve always snored, even when I was a skinny little kid.  Just ask anyone in my family.  They’d wonder how someone so small (at the time) could make so much noise!!!

So I made an appointment to be seen for sleep apnea once again.  The initial appointment to discuss my possible condition was conducted in a conference room with about 35 other people.  The way [Kaiser Permanente] deals with sleep apnea or snoring is to hold a mini-seminar with one-on-one counseling afterward.   The mini-seminar discusses causes of sleep apnea and treatments.  Treatments range from losing weight to wearing a special mask to sleep to having an operation, the latter being the most evasive and least effective treatment.  Afterward I was  scheduled a time to come back in to get the little machine mentioned earlier.

A week after the test I went to another mini-seminar meeting for the results.  The first thing I noticed when I entered the room, which was classroom size not conference room size, was that about 90% of the people were overweight.  They were of all different nationalities and about 99% of them were men.  Some of the people even had their eyes closed, not able to stay awake - which was one of the symptoms discussed in the earlier seminar.

The results were what I mentioned earlier:

...83% oxygen saturation...52 episodes lasting on average of 12 seconds...7.75 hours of sleep recorded.

The numbers aren’t bad, but they aren’t good either.  One young skinny fellow had an oxygen level of 68%!  I had the option of trying the machine or waiting six months to be tested again.  I opted for the machine.

Sleep Apnea MachineSleep Apnea Machine.Sleep Apnea Machine

It’s a scary looking thing, isn’t?  The little piece goes over your nose, the strap behind your head, and air is sent through the tube to your nose.  I’ve used it for three days now.  After the first day I felt about 25% better (if I had to quantify the results).  The second night was harder to sleep through, as was the third.  I’m having a problem with the mask slipping off my nose as I toss and turn at night.  I go back for consultation later this week for some adjustments and a new machine, as this one is only used for calibration.

It’s been an adjustment and as I understand it is going to take a long time.  It can take anywhere from three to four months to get used to the mask.  But I can tell you even though I’m a little tired, I am not as deeply tired as I felt before.  I’ve been looking online, especially reading posting in the Yahoo! Groups on sleep apnea, and it has helped me with a lot of question I have.

Hopefully, if I can sleep through one full night without having to wake up and adjust the mask, I can see results.

AJ Giron @verbal