A Visit To The Sleep Center

I always thought that snoring was like a rite of passage into middle-age-hood - something thats to be endured - but while I thought of it as being inconsequential, my wife thought otherwise. So, on her own she decided to take me to the "sleep doctor". First I thought it was the "Sleepy" mattress salesperson, but when I saw that we were pulling into a medical clinic, it opened my eyes (no pun intended) to this branch of medicine that focuses on sleep disorders!

Quickly I found out that the doctor wasn't just going to give me some nasal strips and let me go home - no sir - first I had to go to the Sleep Center and figure out scientifically if I had any thing else going on. So, I get a prescription to spend a night in their prescribed Sleep Center. Yesterday, I did just that.

The experience in the sleep center was an interesting one. I showed up at the appointed hour, 9 pm to be precise, with a couple of DVDs and some reading material, prepared to stay busy if I couldn't sleep. The technician showed me the room, asked me to get comfortable.

A sleep center is nothing but a small hotel-like room with one bed, a bunch of electronic gadgetry, a video/dvd monitor for your entertainment, and a video camera to monitor you all night long. Thats it. Just like a hospital room, except there is no hospital like smell hanging in the air.

So, my technician showed up again about 45 minutes before my suggested bed time of 11.30, and while I was busy watching LOC (Line of Control) on the flat panel TV, he proceeded to hook me up to so many electrodes that I lost the count. Several electrodes go on the skull, two in the temple region, two in front of the shoulders, two on the legs, and a belt with two electrodes go on the chest and another on the belly. The last two are supposed to monitor movement of the chest and belly respectively. Then there is a large about battery pack size gadget into which all these electrodes are hooked up, that has to be hung from the neck.

With all the electrodes attached, he asked me to lay down on the bed and hooked up two additional objects into my nostrils - one is a sensor that records sounds, and another that records inflow and out flow of air. And oh, I almost forgot, one additional electrode is stuck to your finger to measure the oxygen content the blood.

So, with all these electrodes stuck to me with some sort of smelly paste, the technician wished me a good nights sleep!  Yeah right.  "I have trouble sleeping without any thing attached to me" I thought, "there is no way I will be able to sleep tonight".  

For a while I watched the movie, but I couldn't focus on it, so I turned in and tried to sleep.   As predicted, there was hardly any sleeping last night. The whole gadgetry was so intrusive and difficult to manage around that I could not go to sleep until 3am. Finally, by divine grace some how I faded into deep sleep and the machines took over recording every movement and motions my unconscious body made in the night time.

Before I knew it the technician was knocking on the door again to walk me through the morning paces. Once the calibration was done he gave me the bad news -

"Well Mr. Joshi, your wife is right. You do snore quite a bit"
"Snore quite a bit?"
"And you also have mild sleep apnea"
"Sleep Apnea?"
"Yes, but nothing to worry, its easily corrected. Please come back on 13th and we will fit you up with a mask"

Oh boy. Now I have to learn more about sleep apnea. I quickly shower and go home to look into this "sleep apnea" thing. Googling "sleep apnea", I find that indeed this is a condition that afflicts many Americans! 

And guess what - there is already an American Sleep Apnea Association there to welcome me!  Well, at least I am not alone.  All that is lacking is a "Race for the cure" of Sleep Apnea!
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