It doesn't look like much, and it weighs about the same as a good-sized cat, but it might change the life of this unfittie.
For years, I've been telling doctors there's something wrong, but did they listen?
In 1989, my rheumatologist sent me to the Sleep Disorders Clinic at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
I slept there one night, went to work the next day, returned to the university to spend a second night in the sleep lab — all wired for sound and for several other things bodies do while asleep.
In the next room, technicians monitored my every breath and every movement. Then, after the two nights, they presented their findings to a doctor, a sleep specialist.
The doctor had me come to her office, where she told me my muscles don't relax when I sleep. That's all she told me. She didn't tell me what caused it. She didn't tell me what to do about it. She didn't give me a prescription, a placebo, a diet sheet, or an exercise video. She didn't recommend a humidifier, a de-humidifier (more to the point in the Vancouver area), a white-noise machine, or long-playing cassette tapes of elevator music.
The rheumatologist didn't offer any hope, either. Nor did my family physician.
"Yes, you're right, there's something wrong. Your muscles don't relax when you sleep. Other people's muscles do, but not yours."
Oh, okay. Where do I go from here?
Where I went was, eventually, to a small town in the desert region of the BC interior, where the dry air seemed to help with the pain in my muscles. There was a river to look at, trains to listen to, and lots of nice people to provide rent-a-kids when I wanted to hire help, or who helped me themselves when I needed to go to the hospital or somewhere else equally thrilling.
It was a nice life. When I felt a spurt of something resembling energy, I could throw the dog into the car, leave my key with someone who would feed my cats, and zip down the Trans-Canada Highway to the wet west coast to visit the Davies mob. Other times, family members and/or friends would drop in to visit me — some to stay with me for a month or two or so, invited or not.
The time came when I moved to a small town in the desert region of the Alberta prairie, and married a retired schoolteacher enjoying his second career. I told him, right up front, about all my ailments. I did so in grim detail, in order that he be warned not to expect Susie Homemaker, or someone who could rake leaves or shovel snow.
Thus began my relationship with a whole new province of doctors who didn't know what to do with me.
"There's something wrong," I'd say.
"Yes, of course," they'd say, and remind me I had already been diagnosed with three serious problems and a string of less dashing ones.
"But there's something else wrong. I don't feel like myself."
Of course, poor things, they had no idea who myself might be because they had only recently met me. I wanted to call my parents and have them come out here to explain: "Kay used to be quite bright. We had high hopes for her once."
Well, no, that would hardly do, and besides, the ancestors were getting a bit too old, and I had moved a bit too far away.
Okay, there is a punch line coming up, and you have to promise not to laugh.
One day, when I was complaining to our present family doctor about mind-rot setting in, he said he'd send me to a specialist. He didn't say what kind of specialist, and I didn't ask. I just went.
The sign on the door read "Internal medicine." Well, not exactly specialists in mind-rot, but not shrinks, either, so that was good. And the new doctor had a new idea. He said he'd send me for a sleep test. I explained I'd already had sleep tests but, as he is quite a young man, he seemed to think 1989 was much too long ago for the results to be relevant in the 21st century.
He told me whom to see and gave me his card. I put the card in my purse, went off to make an appointment for a do-it-yourself at-home sleep test, and found out I had sleep apnea. The only treatment tested over a long period of time, approved by Health Canada and by the FDA in the US, is, I found out, a breathing machine called a CPAP, so I was scheduled to do a two-week trial run with the latest in CPAP technology.
"There's something different," I told my husband after a few days, "I think it works."
He gave me a look of disbelief (or it may have been disdain) and said, "There are all kinds of remedies on the Internet. Look, here's one. It says if you learn to play the didgeridoo, you will strengthen the muscles in your throat and won't stop breathing while you sleep."
"Couldn't I learn to play a trombone instead? It would strengthen the muscles in one arm, too."
"Well, don't go buying an expensive machine just because you think it works."
"I'm going to ask the new doctor after I've finished this trial period with the machine," I said, taking the card out of my purse, and looking at it. That's when I realized I'd been sent to see a geriatric specialist.
I thought I'd cry.
Posted for the My World Tuesday meme, this is a true story.
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