Life is something to do when you can’t get to sleep.
So today, I get this call from Kaiser, can’t answer right away because my boss’ boss is teaching a class and I’m in the front row. I figure they want to talk about Elmo and my leg, and what’s going on with the proposed surgery(ies) and all,* so after the class is out and I’ve eaten lunch, I call them back.
“Cynthia, this is John, and I wanted to talk with you about your sleep study results.”
My what? Took me a second to remember that last week, in between orthopedic visits, I’d taken a boxful of gadgets home to test my sleep. Apparently it’s now standard procedure in a pre-op exam, if you admit to anyone that you snore.
On Friday night, Sept. 16, 2016, I fractured my left femur just above Elmo, my replacement knee. I lived in a wheelchair, facing hip-high amputation of my left leg, for about two years while I fought health care bureaucracy, cost-conscious HMOs, and myself to figure out a way to walk again. (Spoiler alert: Elmo won!)
I documented my adventures in remobilization in this blog. They’re awfully self-indulgent, occasionally icky, and probably only of interest to me, but on the off-chance that they help someone else with a catastrophic injury, I’m keeping them together here. If you don’t want to read them, that’s OK; I still love you. If you do, you might want to start from the beginning, on the archive page that lists all posts.
I’d done as much to the pre-op doctor,** and she’d immediately drawn a bead on me. “Has anyone ever told you that you gasp and stop breathing at night? I think we need to get you into a sleep study before surgery.”
Next thing I knew I was sitting through the “why you should care about this” lecture in a class with two guys. We practiced hanging this shoebox-sized machine around our necks, adding waist and armpit bands, caps on our fingers, hoses up our noses and probes on our mouths, with tiny wires connecting it all together.
“Put it on tonight,” blurbled the sleep technician, “Just the way you’ve done here, and then go to bed and sleep normally.”
Spot the fallacy in that instruction?
“Excuse me, ma’am? If I’m wearing all this stuff, how am I supposed to sleep normally?” I asked, while my companions nodded vigorously.
“Most people don’t really notice,” she replied, without so much as an ironic giggle.
For the record: I noticed. So did Lola.
Since I’ve returned home, Lola has become…clingy. If I’m gone for more than a couple of hours, I get a scolding when I step through the door. She demands pets, gives out lovebites with abandon (ouch), and (here’s where this is relevant) sleeps curled up on my shoulder.
I suspect Nikki would happily join her, but Lola won’t allow her in the room. That night, when I donned my sleep study gear, she almost didn’t allow me in, either.
I wired up, climbed into bed and –flash–Lola was on my chest, batting an angry paw at my wiredupness. She oozed in between wires and made herself comfortable, ignoring my efforts to doze while wearing a cat, data recorder, elastic bands and a lot of tape. I slept, but I can’t say I did it very well.
I turned in the machine the next day, thought no more about it…until today. “You have,” John said, “Severe sleep apnea.”
“Severe sleep WHAT?”
“Apnea. You stop breathing, or at least take really shallow breaths, about 48 times per hour. We want you to come in to be fitted for a PAP.”
Dammit, Lola; look what you got me into THIS time! “Uhm, I should probably let you know that your results may be a leeeeeetle bit skewed on this, John,” I explained, “You see, I have this cat who slept on your little machine and probably ate the wires or something…”
“I doubt she ate all the wires,” John said, and I could hear the grin, “We had a lot of tests going and they corroborated each other. We’re pretty sure that wasn’t the cat.”
“So, we want to get you in as soon as possible to be fitted. How about tomorrow morning?”
“How about I call you in a couple of weeks?”
See, I’m more interested in leg surgeries and this very cool project I’m doing at work than in practicing buddy breathing in bed. To tell the truth, I’ve had just about enough medical poking and prodding and hospitals and clinics and exam rooms and such.
“Well, no. Severe apnea can cause all kinds of problems: Heart attacks, stroke, Type II diabetes…”
“None of which I have,” I pointed out, “And I doubt this apnea thing started last week, so apparently it’s not fatal.”
“…mood swings, depression, obesity…”
“Wait. Obesity? You mean if I wear this thing, I’ll automatically lose weight?”
“It can happen,” he said, “If tomorrow won’t work, we could try Friday…”
“No,” I said hastily, “Tomorrow looks great. See you then.” A random thought grazed my cerebellum. “Hang on! Does sleep apnea affect bone growth?”
Can you see where this is going?
“Well, it can, but you’ll probably want to ask the doctor about your specific case when you come in.”
So… while I’m not too keen–or convinced–about the sleep thing, at least it’ll be an interesting distraction from busted femurs. And wouldn’t it be ironic if my snoring is preventing The Leg from growing?
Sleep tight. Don’t let the CPAP bite…
*Ironically enough, after waiting for days to hear from Kaiser about my surgery, The Doc called this afternoon…just as I was at Kaiser, being fitted for a CPAP thing. So…I guess he’ll call back. Sigh.
**Mind you, I’ve never heard me snore and I’m not sure I believe it…except I remember the time I went down the Canal du Midi in a barge and my roomie Susan wound up sleeping on the kitchen table because it was a lot quieter to be in a room I wasn’t. Hmmmm….