Friday, February 14, 2014


I had my appointment with the doctor at the sleep clinic.  He was a very nice man who really listened to me.  I don't know about you, but I have had times when I have gone to the doctor's office and he or she just seemed to not be hearing me.  Not every time, but enough to drive me feeling like something was wrong with me.  When he asked me how my sleep was going using the machine, I looked at him and simply said, "Horrible.  I have slept twice on the machine ... two hours last night and a half hour the night before."  I was grateful for the two hours, trust me on that one, because up to the night before that, I had not been able to string together enough will in me to even fall asleep.  Actually, it isn't my will, but just a pure inability to fall asleep on the machine.  Getting the half an hour and then the two hours felt like a freaking miracle to be honest.  After much discussion with him regarding exactly what was going on and doing a physical examination, we developed an action plan together.  I could tell he wasn't going to just let this go and check with me in six months.  He understands that I'm not sleeping now and need help now.  To be honest, I practically cried while talking to him.  I have spent so many nights in tears from the sheer frustration of not being able to fall asleep yet being so tired.  This has been going on for a solid month.  That might not seem like a long time but I can assure you that not being able to get a somewhat restful night of sleep night after night is a horrible feeling.

To begin, the doctor is changing the two sleeping pills I had to a more intense one that is solely to help with sleep (I guess the other two pills were anti-anxiety meds with a side effect of being drowsy).  My new pill is called Ambien.  You may have seen commercials for it on TV.  It's the one where the person is sleeping and a butterfly flies all around them while they're sleeping.  When I would see that commercial, it would make me jealous that that person could sleep and I couldn't.  Then I remembered that I heard something about people sleep-walking using that med.  The doctor did say that has occurred with a small number of patients.  So he told me to watch out for signs that I had done things in the middle of the night that I hadn't done before bedtime, like making a full meal and then leaving it out on the stove.  The thought of that just cracked me up.  He told me that if I do have those episodes, I am to stop immediately and then we'd go to a different med.  I was looking at the medication guide they gave with it and I had to do a double-take.  In the section where they talk about sleep-walking, it says:

"Reported activities include:
  • Driving a car ("sleep-driving")
  • Making and eating food
  • Talking on the phone
  • Having sex
  • Sleep-walking"
That made me laugh even more.  I just had this image in my mind of me going to bed.  After a while, I got up to use the phone to call someone.  I then got in the car and ended up eating food at a fast-food restaurant instead of having sex with the person I called, which apparently was my original reason for using the phone in the first place. Ha ha!!  It just struck me as hilarious.   Getting that sort of image in my head is what made me laugh at that.  I'm sure it happens to people, but to think any of those things can happen while I'm dead asleep is pretty laughable.  Apparently people do have functional episodes while sleep-walking to the extent that others around them feel like they are their normal selves.  It's such an interesting phenomena to me.  Of course this is nothing to take lightly and I think you guys know me well enough by now to know I don't take things like this lightly.  On the flip side, I do have funny images that pop into my head at the most inopportune time.  I'm happy to report that none of the above happened when I took the pill last night.

I need to check in with the doctor in a week or two.  If the med doesn't work, the second thing the doctor wants to look at is having me studied more in the overnight sleep clinic so they can monitor everything going on.  He said that, according to the data from the CPAP machine, when I'm wearing the nasal pillow, I am not experiencing apnea.  In fact, I should be able to sleep in any position with that machine on.  He is thinking there is something going on in my brain that is psyching myself out in not being able to sleep on the machine.  He says I may be thinking about it too much and preventing myself from falling asleep.  He didn't say it in a dismissive way, but just that it doesn't make sense based on his experience with other patients.  He does feel that a recliner could help on a short-term basis now and when I have the surgery due to the different body positioning.

We did talk about the possibility of a device that goes in my mouth that will force my tongue forward, thereby opening up the passageway.  Unfortunately, I can't qualify for that device until at least six months after my gastric bypass surgery.  They want to see that I have lost weight first before going in that direction.  Speaking of the surgery, he did say that many patients end up no longer having sleep apnea or a very mild form of it afterwards.  I was reminded that even thin people have sleep apnea, which I know to be the case because I've had class members when I learned how to use the machine that were thin.

I'm beyond thrilled that I slept last night!  Not all night long, but a couple more hours on the machine.  I was so tired that I decided I needed to take off the nasal pillow and just sleep on my own so that I could be as functional as possible today.  The lack of sleep I have been experiencing really has taken a toll not only on my body but on my mind.  I've been slurring my words a little bit and even having to try a couple of times to say one word.  That has all been from being extremely tired.  

Speaking of which, my med is starting to kick in now.  My dad is coming for a visit tomorrow.  I am going to move forward with telling him that I'm pursuing the gastric bypass surgery.  I'm nervous and feeling a bit anxious about having this conversation with him.  I just worry that he won't approve and that he won't be supportive.  It's important for me to have his support.  In the end, I know he does back me in whatever I do, even if he doesn't agree with my choices.  Ultimately, it is my choice and I have to remember that I'm a grown-up and not that 13-year-old that's trying to get the courage to tell her daddy something important.  I'll let you all know how it goes!

Day 31:  Drank 186 of 185 ounces (I rock!)


Caitlin R said...

Fantastic news, Kathy! I'm so glad that you and your doctor have a plan. It is really wonderful that he really listened to you. Glad you got a couple of hours sleep. I only know how it feels to have one or two restless/sleepless nights. I can only imagine how rough it must be to have so many sleepless nights. I hope that with these meds and your plan you can start to increase your sleeping hours. Well done on perservering. :-)

Kathy said...

Thank you! I was so excited to get sleep on the machine. I actually got four hours on it last night. It was like a lovely miracle ;-)

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