Part I: Jack's Birthday
Part III: Easter

Part II: Sleep Study

After the birthday party, I had to quickly rush to pack my bag and head for Naval Medical Center Portsmouth for a sleep study. What was I thinking, scheduling it for Jack's Birthday-Easter weekend? But no matter, it was done, and I had to go.

My gastric bypass surgeon thought maybe I needed CPAP and that my sleeping problems could help explain some of my weight issues. Hey, if the fact that I've snored all my life is the answer instead of my ongoing love affair with chocolate, well, what are you going to do? So I had to do the sleep study as one more step on the way to surgery.

I first walked in and was greeted by a nurse with a heavy Eastern European accent, telling me to sit in the lobby and fill out a long questionnaire, and then she'd be back after setting someone else up with their equipment.  Then she came back and walked me down to my room, and oh, boy. I thought, for the first time of many last night, What am I getting myself into?!! There were wires and straps and machines all over the bed. I just stood there and stared at them while she told me to get dressed for bed and leave the door open when I was ready.

She returned and asked me to sit down in the chair. I did, and she began feeding wires up my shirt and then pasting and taping more wires to my legs. Then she dug around and wrote (hard!) on my head with a pen, and pasted more wires on my head, through my hair.  More wires were stuck to my face. Straps were tightened around my chest and belly. Am I supposed to be able to sleep like this? With that camera on me the whole time?!

During the process, I asked the nurse all about herself. She told me she was from Europe. I resisted the urge to tell her I did not think she was Asian or Australian, so I just said, "Yes, but where?" She said, "I am born in Bosnia!" with a big grin. I love the way foreign people speak English. I am born in Bosnia. How adorable is that? I love it.

She loves Dubrovnik, Croatia, where we'll be visiting on our cruise, and told me all the wonderful things about it. She described the cold weather and interesting marketplaces and buildings when she lived in Vienna, Austria, for a while before coming here. The thing she likes best about living here is the warm weather, and her kids like living near the ocean.  We chatted on for a while until she started sticking paste to my face, and then I just hooted out a surprised, "Oh!" and fell into silence.

Then she told me I had an hour to do whatever I wanted, and she would come in at ten and turn off the lights for me to go to sleep. Yeah, right. Ten? You must be joking. These days, I generally fall asleep between midnight and 0200. The last time I fell asleep at ten, I was probably in high school. Well, I'm sure there are certain times I have like after a big final exam in college, or after giving birth, but not on an ordinary day, no way. I was worried.

I had brought my Good Housekeeping magazine with me, and my huge bag of knitting for my cotton afghan. I had assumed that I would be able to sit up as long as I needed and do whatever I wanted until I was tired. Wrong-O. Lights went out at ten, and I could only get up to go to the bathroom - after signaling for assistance.

I read for an hour and never touched my knitting. Around ten, Fatima checked in with me over her P.A. system: "Are you ready to go to sleep? We will start your sleep study now!" although I can't remember how she really phrased it, Bosnianly. I told her no, I wasn't, but she came in anyway and hooked the wires up to some machine, turned off the light, and said good-night.

Um, good-night.  Yeah, right. I'm never going to go to sleep at t...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Next thing I knew, she came back in to change the oxygen sensor on finger, thinking it wasn't working. I fell right back asleep until she came in to check it again.

Then she told me my oxygen levels were very low. She re-positioned me, inserted a nasal canula, and sent me back off to dreamland. I normally sleep on my stomach, but I was forced to sleep on my side or my back. I didn't think I'd ever get to sleep that way, but sure enough, I went right back out.

After two hours, she came in to put me on the CPAP machine, telling me, "You really need CPAP. Your oxygen is terrible. CPAP was made for you. You need it, you really need it."   


So she put this small mask over my nose and wrapped an ace bandage around my head and jaw to keep my mouth shut, telling me I was a mouth-breather (I know, I've been that for way for 31 years, and ain't nothing changing about it now. I have surely tried many times) and she was going to try to get me to breathe through my nose so I wouldn't have to wear the full mask.  Oh, I hated it. Hated it, and couldn't breathe. I tried so hard to keep my mouth closed and breathe through my nose, but I felt like I just couldn't get enough air - as always when I try that, even with the mask forcing air into my nose - and was suffocating.

After less than ten minutes, I waved my hands at the infrared camera and ripped it off my face, gasping, "I can't do it!! I can't!"

Fatima rushed right in and set me up with the full face mask, which really didn't seem that much bigger or more invasive, and it was a huge relief to breathe "normally" again.  She left me alone (I think?) for the rest of the night, until 0600, and I don't remember having any problems at all.

When she came in in the morning, she told me my oxygen went up from 70 to 95, sometimes 97, and that it was a really successful test. Successful for whom? Now I have to wear this stupid mask and sleep on my back! 

I filled out the morning questionnaire, dressed, and left, waving good-bye to my new Bosnian friend. During the drive home, though it was so early on an Easter morning, I felt surprisingly awake and well-rested.  Although I fretted continuously about having to use CPAP. I don't want it. I. Don't. Want. It!!!

When I arrived home, the bright, full moon was hanging over my house. Ah. The first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of Spring. That's Easter! He is Risen.

Stay tuned for Part III.