Sleep Study II

Last night I had my second sleep study, to ascertain whether I still suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition usually (but not necessarily) associated with snoring, and it can cause a variety of health problems, not to mention general fatigue. It can also be a problem for whoever the sufferer happens to be sleeping with!

I had my first sleep study some years ago (probably 2002) at a place in Queens, and was diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea.

After the first study, the ear, nose and throat specialist recommended a surgical procedure called an uvulectomy, which I had (see blogs passim; Uvula removula, Uvula No More, Uvulectomy: Before & After and Gagging). I’d also had an operation called septoplasty in the UK in 1998, and a tonsilectomy as a kid.

I was supposed to go back for a second sleep study after the uvulectomy to see if it had worked, but due to a career transition, I lost my health insurance and it never happened. I finally got around to doing the second test last night, more than 3 years later!

The procedure was much the same as last time, but at a different hospital: I arrived at the NYU Sleep Disorder Center in the Bellevue Hospital around 9pm, changed into sleeping clothes, and then a technician (actually a doctor from Kerala in India working as a technician while waiting for his U.S. medical license) attached lots of electrodes to various parts of my body.

Tony Gill Sleep Study, 2007-02-13. All Rights Reserved

Once I was wired up, I went to bed in a grim, airless and windowless room, and performed various exercises as instructed by a disembodied voice coming from an intercom (I was also being monitored by some kind of infra red CCTV camera). The instructions were things like “look left,” “blink 5 times”, “take a deep breath and hold it for 10 seconds,” “breathe deeply through your mouth” etc., and were designed to calibrate the measuring devices and ensure that all the sensors were working OK.

And then I was told I could go to sleep — so I did. But not for long, because it’s pretty uncomfortable sleeping with lots of wires stuck to you and a tube sticking in each nostril, plus I had perhaps the worst foam pillow I’ve ever slept on in my life. It felt like I woke up every 20 minutes or so.

Nonetheless, they woke me up at about 6:30am and told me I’d had 7 hours sleep. They also told me that I hadn’t snored at all throughout the entire night, which was a surprise, and that, according to the monitors, I’d slept fairly well — but that they also weren’t allowed to give me any detailed information, because the data would need to be analyzed by a specialist later that day.

So I showered to rinse out the stubborn conducting gunk they’s put under the electrodes, dressed and went out into a dark, snow-covered New York in search of bacon and eggs for breakfast.

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