Last night I had my second sleep study for sleep apnea. This is the one where they put the vader mask on your face and shoot air down your throat. Needless to say it was as horrible as it sounds.
Lung problems run in my family. My grandfather had COPD. My mother had sleep apnea, my brother too. In addition to apnea, I also have asthma. I’m happy to say that my asthma isn’t as bad as it used to be, but i still carry around a rescue inhaler in case of emergency. The sleep tech thinks that I have had apnea since a young age because it is so bad at this point. He called it “old man apnea.”
The test was an ordeal, and I wonder if I will be able to handle the machine. Bascially, a masked is sealed onto your face, a tube forces compressed air into your airway, keeping it open. the thing is that the pressure is very strong, and it takes quite the effort to exhale. It feels like you are being strangled at first, even though you aren’t.
The first 5 minutes are the worst. I said to the tech, “it feels like I’m choking.” He said “don’t worry, I got ya. all your levels are normal, your heart rate is fine, blood oxygen is fine. Your brain is always trying to protect your airflow, so it is making you panic. Just keep telling yourself that you’re not choking, and you’ll be fine.”
So that’s what I did. I sat on the bed and watched RAW (a pretty lame episode, although I did like Ryback’s monologue, it actually made sense) and tried to calm myself.
It didn’t work.
While I did eventually adjust to the pressure, it took 3 hours before I fell asleep. In those three hours, I walked through a shadow of terror and self-loathing. I despaired at being 36 and needing a ventilator-lite to survive. I felt like I was old and dying, that the meat of my life was past me and I only had bones left to gnaw on. Worst of all, when I pictured myself on the bed with that thing pumping air down my throat, I kept drifting back to Valerie and those last days in the hospital. The worst moments of my life revisited over and over. Is that what I have to look forward to? It’s not bad enough that I think about her every waking moment, are the sleeping moments taken too?
I slept for about 4 hours, and I did wake refreshed. I’ve been very productive today as well, so maybe there is something to this treatment. It’s on me, I suppose. I am the one that has to adjust. But I wonder why I bother. What do I have to look forward to anyway? My best days are behind me. I knew that even before they hooked a tube to my throat.
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