A couple of weeks ago I posted about going into the sleep clinic for more tests. This is what happened.

So those of a sensitive nature can avoid the horror of me "wired up".

Papworth hospital has an impressive list of "firsts" in the UK and Europe relating to  transplant surgery, so I have no complaints about being referred to their sleep centre for treatment, I know it’s going to be the best I can get. Unfortunately, as the hospital started out as a sanitorium for "consumptives" in 1917 the architecture leaves a little to be desired. Most buildings there are little more than Portakabins added onto the campus. It came as no surprise to me as  worked here dong some consultancy ( financial)  in the early 1990s , but I’ve always felt that it is less than inspiring, particularly if you are turning up for heart surgery. The first thing you see when you arrive is this faded 1930s village hall alongside the entrance. There’s a lot of walking on site from the various car parks to the main entrance, then to the relevant unit. I found it bad enough, what if you’ve a respiratory condition?

I arrived at 7pm for my overnight stay, checked in and was issued with a bright red wrist band rather than the plain old white one when they found out about my allergies. Clutching my notes I was weighed and then taken into the sleep lab. The first thing I saw was one of my fellow patients in the middle of the room, sitting on a stool in his boxer shorts, being wired  up. I was shown to one of the 6 rooms off the main area, unpacked, changed into my jim-jams and had a chat with the technician. I was to be the last to be wired up so that the tapes and glue they used could be tested on my skin to make sure I didn’t have an allergic reaction to any of them.
The two polysomnography technicians doing the wiring up were very chatty and amusing, putting everyone at ease as they roughened up patches of skin and applied sensors all over me. Yes, I did look ridiculous with all those wires, but so did everyone else. What you can’t see is the cable on my left arm those running from the back of my head down to each ankle inside my pyjama bottoms. There’s no room for style here. The technicians told tales of women arriving with smart hair styles and highly manicured and false nails – all had to go. As you can see bad hair day doesn’t really encompass the effect of the head harness, the tape and the hair gel glue.

By about 10pm everyone was ready and retired to their rooms. The cables were all hooked up at 10.30 and the camera switched on. Yes, as well as the oximeter on my finger and the polysomnograph recording brain waves we were filmed.

It seemed to take ages for me to get comfortable and sleep seemed impossible, but it must have happened because I remember two very vivid dreams; one about being in a sleep lab  – ha ha.

We were woken at 7.00am and that’s when things really deteriorated. The day was devoted to what are charmingly referred to as "nap tests". Every two hours we had to attempt to sleep. After 15 minutes we had to get up again. No sleeping between tests, no caffeine, no stimulating puzzles, no exercise or work. At breakfast the group chatted together, feeling a little tired; by lunchtime we wre all very ratty and sleep -deprived. After the restless night all we wanted to do was sleep, but sleeping to order is very hard and most of us felt we were just dropping off when we were woken up again.

Just as I was set up for my 3rd nap test I was told the doctor wanted to see me. The analysis of my overnight results made very clear what my home study had failed to do –  I have obstructive  sleep apnoea. In a month I will be back at Papworth to get fitted out with a CPAP ( Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. As far as I can tell from my Googling I’m going to go to bad like a cross between Darth Vader and  Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet"

Although I clearly recall the doctor telling me my results were in a range that put me into the "moderate" rating  when I received a copy of the letter to my GP it records me being in the "Severe" range ( I’ve followed this up and "severe" it is). I have to inform the DVLA, and although I don’t feel sleepy when driving I suspect I’ll lose my licence until I’ve been using the CPAP machine for sometime and my condition is cosidered to be "managed".

As for the title of this piece: I woke up this morning at 7.00 , put the radio on, fell asleep again until 9.30 and din’t feel awake until 11.00. I did some exercises on the Wii ( part of the lose weight get fitter programe I need to do) and felt quite perky at 11.58. I shall be sleepy by 3.00.

It has taken a while for this to sink in, hence the delay between my visit to the clinic and this entry. There are some serious implications for my future – I’ll be back.
 

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