New disorder

In spring, Elvi noticed a poster for an upcoming sleep study. I love bending the path of future medical science in my direction, so I signed up. In return for an evening in a sleep lab, I would get an assessment of my sleeping and $50. What’s not to love?

I went in the night of August 11. I had electrodes on my chest, head, and legs, along with a blood-oxygen sensor on a fingertip and a microphone on my forehead. Bands around my abdomen and chest recorded expansion and contraction. They don’t let you sleep naked, so I wore boxers that, I later discovered, were somewhat crotchless. I went to sleep around 11:30 p.m. and at 2:00 a.m., the tech woke me to hook me up to a CPAP machine with a nasal mask. They woke me and kicked me out at 6:00 a.m. The group offered me another $50 for a follow-up experiment in which I’d hook up a home-based kit with the bands, microphone, and oxygen sensor – I did that, too.

So, here I was, $100 richer off the fat of the scientific land. I had a hunch something was up with my results since the nice lady running the study said I should soon hear from a sleep doctor. Today, I saw him.

The doctor showed me my results and the squiggly lines were dramatic. I have pretty bad sleep apnea, so bad that I never entered Stage 3 deep sleep. With the CPAP mask on, my sleep was normal and deep. He measured my 18.25″ neck and looked in my throat, which, he discovered, is unusually narrow. (Sorry, boys, I’m taken.)

He suggested a host of possibilities, from a fitted mouthpiece through CPAP through surgery. He says I’ll live another 40 years and thinks surgery to remove my tonsils and widen my throat is worth a try over 40 x 365 = 14,600 nights hooked up to an air tube. For now, though, I’m going to try CPAP – starting next week, when I have an appointment for a fitting.

The doctor said it’s possible that my sleeping problems have been causing my depression rather than the other way around. Once I start my sleep therapy, he told me, I may be able to stop taking the citalopram.

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