Like a coin, this story of when I had a sleepover at a sleep apnea clinic has two sides to it. For today I am going to tell it on the face of it, the obverse side, which is to me the amusing side of it. I will leave the reverse side of this experience, the tail of the coin (pun intended) of what happened to me after I fell asleep in this sleep apnea clinic for another post.
In 2013 a sleep apnea study in a clinic cost about $3K, plus equipment ≈ $4K. I felt this was exorbitant and I also believed that my breathing difficulties were caused by allergies because my nose is always stuffy when I live in the Midwest and my breathing is clear as a bell when I live near the ocean, due to lack of allergens and the benefits of sea salt in the air. However, my primary care physician at the time insisted that my persistent breathing problems were likely caused by sleep apnea, he did not specify which kind.* He assured me that my co-pay would be minimal and that my Humana insurance would pay most of the cost. He referred me to a pulmonary specialist who concurred. So I agreed to participate in an overnight sleep apnea study at a local clinic and I showed up on the evening of my appointment as instructed.
I had already tried a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine in 2009, and like others of my elderly friends whose doctors prescribed a CPAP machine to them it did nothing to help my breathing, in fact it made me feel suffocated during every night of the year that I hooked myself up to it. I did not know what to expect of the sleep apnea clinic, but I had been assured that the clinic-quality CPAP machine that would control and monitor my breathing throughout the night were be more forceful and would not make me feel suffocated. I did not know what to make of that strangely unreassuring assurance.
The technicians, there were several working on me, prepared me for attachment to their machinery with all the seriousness of laboratory assistants to Dr. Frankenstein. When they left me alone in my room I was so amused by my hilarious appearance that I snapped a photograph, which is attached hereto.
End Of Part I.
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* "There are two types of sleep apnea:"
• Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
• Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control center.
"What Is Sleep Apnea?"
“Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.
Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.
Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep 3 or more nights each week. You often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep when your breathing pauses or becomes shallow.
This results in poor sleep quality that makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.”
Caption: Clinic Sleepover To Test For Sleep Apnea-selfie "glamour" shot
by Annmarie Throckmorton 2013