I was referred to the sleep disorders center for help with my sleep apnea (pause in breathing) and snoring/congestion. Last night was my sleep observation appointment.
It looks like I will almost certainly get a CPAP machine to assist with keeping my airway open at night. Most of the tightening of the airway is due to my tongue (seems to be a bit wider than normal and has bite marks around the edges) and there’s an observable but not serious narrowing of the part just above the uvula/tonsil area leading to the nose. Continuous Positive Air Pressure should hopefully help both of those.
Earlier in the week I had a consultation office visit with the doctor. She explained all the options and recommended the test, and also explained some of the surgeries that are available. UPPP is pretty non-intrusive, but gives beneficial results less than 40% of the time, and many of those patients report problems coming back 2 years later. The other surgeries are far more intrusive. One involves cutting a piece of the lower jaw bone and moving it around, fastening it with a screw, in hopes of pulling the tongue forward, which enjoys a whopping 50% success rate (wow! sign me up!) If that’s not intrusive enough, they also offer a select few patients a procedure involving cutting both the upper and lower jaw bone in multiple places, to move teeth and tongue forward, including attendant extensive orthodontic work. I’m not sure why she told me about all three surgeries (and provided a handout) but if the intent was to give me a strong incentive to try and make the CPAP mask work, it was certainly effective :) Other than describing icky surgeries I would never want, the doctor was quite nice and extremely helpful; she seemed to be extremely knowlegeable and experienced.
During the test, I was observed in my normal state for a few hours, then awakened, then fitted with a CPAP mask and sent back to sleep. CPAP will take a little getting used to, but thanks to Ambien I went back to sleep right away. (CPAP is… weird. I noticed that if I open my mouth, the air blows in through my nose and right out my mouth. This didn’t seem to happen while sleeping though.) The technician said I did well on both parts of the test; I don’t know exactly what that means, but the fact that she woke me for the second part is a good sign that I’m going to need the mask.
Oh my god, lots of electrodes. There were about 10-12 on my head and neck, 2 on my chest, 2 on each leg, as well as chest strap, stomach strap and fingertip pulse detector. Apparently the sensors can tell when I breathe, how I breathe, whether I snore, when I move my legs, heart/EKG, and even brain waves (the only thing the take-home version of the test doesn’t do). Additionally the CPAP itself can sense breathing and has a data card that records how well things are working (and whether I’m actually using the device).
Now, hopefully they will give me a machine that is not too loud and a mask I can actually wear without knocking it off. I’m pretty sure it will help me, but I hope it’s quiet enough to not impact my sweetie’s already-skewed sleep schedule.