Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Knitting up the raveled sleave of care

So last night my way of celebrating St Patrick's Day was to take myself over to a sleep lab and allow myself to be hooked up with all kinds of wires so that I resembled William Hurt in Altered States and then I was asked to relax (!) and go to sleep, and I finally did, and in the middle of a dream involving way too many hamburgers and a train station in Switzerland, the sleep tech turned on the lights (oh, how rude!) and brought me a mask and said I should put it on because I stopped breathing about 80 times per hour.

This mask is a series of elastic straps that go around the head and a vinyl nose-cover that extends into your nostrils, or it should do so if you don't have narrow nostrils like I do, and the mask attaches to a tube which blows a constant stream of air down your throat. So I tried it for 10 seconds or less and felt like I would suffocate and I knew that I would never, ever be able to make this a part of my nightly routine. Who can blame me? But apparently it may be the only thing that works for my relatively severe problem, and I don't like my chances for heart disease, stroke, and hypertension if I don't do something. I'm biding my time and waiting for someone to tell me it isn't true.


Blogger Andre said...

I'm sorry to hear you have the dreaded sleep apnea...I fear I might have it (I snore probably as loudly as my dad used to) but I fear the sleep test because I also don't want to wear that mask!

So there are really no other treatment options?

Anyway I hope the tech read the results wrong. Let me know what happens...

3/18/2008 11:59:00 PM  
Blogger bibliofilly said...

Hee hee, I do all the hard work so you won't have to! :-)

If you have more severe apnea, really the only thing that works is the mask. Reasonenough's husband used to wear one and she used to call it the Darth Vader mask.

Dan S. (remember Dan, the Ska librarian?) had his uvula surgically removed to combat the problem, but I'm not sure I like that idea.

3/19/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Andre said...

I heard about Dan and the missing uvula.

I think I'd take that option over the mask. I had my tonsils out when I was little (which should make me LESS prone to apnea, no?) and it wasn't that bad.

Lots of ice cream and coloring books afterwards.

There should be exercises to tone up my flabby throat...although I've never heard of such a thing.

3/19/2008 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger bibliofilly said...

From what I hear having tonsils out as an adult hurts WAY more. And liquid diets frighten me.

Anyway, insurance companies will NOT approve surgery until you've made an effort with the mask, and sometimes not even then.

My new wacky idea is about how
I have a weak/receding jawline, which I've been told could have something to do with it. And that would justify plastic surgery that would make me less horrifyingly chinless looking. It's win-win.

3/19/2008 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Andre said...

is this what you are talking about (from mayo clinic site)?

* Maxillomandibular advancement. In this procedure, the upper and lower part of your jaw is moved forward from the remainder of your face bones. This enlarges the space behind the tongue and soft palate, making obstruction less likely. This procedure may require the cooperation of an oral surgeon and an orthodontist, and at times may be combined with another procedure to improve the likelihood of success.

Someone has to come up with some better sleep apnea treatments.

3/19/2008 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger karen said...

I had my tonsils out at 20 and it only took a few days to heal. My friend Liz brought me Ben & Jerry's White Russian ice cream (no chunks) and I ate quite a lot of cherry Jell-O. Seriously - it's two little snips and a stitch or two on each side. Probably only sucks more as an adult because you have to take vacation time to recover.

3/19/2008 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger bibliofilly said...

the maxillomandubular advancement is considered less intrusive than the uvula one, though.

I think the tonsils thing is pretty subjective. I watched my sister have an agonizing time with hers because she was having trouble with her stitches and she did not do well on the codeine syrup they gave her for pain (imagine throwing up with a very sore throat). She wasn't hungry for popsicles or ice cream. No thank you! Anyway, the uvula/soft palate surgery only works for apnea about 45% of the time - not a good enough ROI.

3/20/2008 07:50:00 AM  

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