Monday, July 18, 2011

Is my world about to change? I hope so!

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.
To see other worlds on this planet, please click HERE!


aka Penelope said...

The thread of humor in your tale softens what really must be a frustrating experience of not fully finding solutions to health issues. It is great news to hear there is hope for increased wellness in your future, Kay, with help from a rather ordinary looking machine. :)

SquirrelQueen said...

Another blogging friend went through the sleep tests not long ago and was also diagnosed with sleep apnea. Her doctor recommended the CRAP machine. She seems to be pleased with it.

You are much too young for that specialist Kay!

Francisca said...

I'm shaking my head as I read your story, Kay... Apnea on top of the other things! Criminee! I don't know what I'd do without a good night's sleep! Sure hope the gadget works for you... we want to see you fit as a fiddle. As for the doctor's title, he's a nutcase who hasn't been told that 50 is the new 30!

PerthDailyPhoto said...

I know I shouldn't chuckle Kay, but come on you can't write a story like that, in such a funny way and not expect it! If I was you I'd bin the 'geriatric' specialist's card, you sound like someone who's much too 'young at heart' to even be considered in those terms!! So enjoyed this post.

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping this changes your life for the better!

Mama Zen said...

Great punch line! I truly hope the CPAP helps.

Leslie said...

a didgeridoo, eh? glad you haven't lost your sense of humor... and i look forward to hearing that your machine continues to work it's energy-restoring magic.

Arija said...

My brother and one of my nephews have been using those machines for years and they certainly do work and my nephew certainly is no geriatric.

Good luck!

Gattina said...

Mr. G did a home sleep test too a few years ago he looked very cabled. He then got a machine with a mask which should help against the apnea. I don't know if it did anyway he quickly was fed up with the mask and now he snores peacefully again. That's really strange what you have.
Take it with humor going to a geratric specialist, lol ! I wonder what he could find out, you really don't look and behave as if you had already one foot in the grave !

Martha Z said...

Sorry, I had to chuckle at the punch line, after all, I live in a senior community.
I have several neighbors who use the CPAP and they say it has been a big help. I do hope you find it helpful as well.

chiccoreal said...

Dear Kay: Your humourous story kept me laughing out loud! Certainly if the mainstream doctor's can't seem to find a cure or proper treatment maybe Alternative Med aka Wholistic Meds may be able to help you? I feel for you! Definitely I believe that somewhere in the world there is a cure that for what ails one. Maybe some of that good ol' BC spruce gingerale beer!

jabblog said...

I hope it continues to work for you, Kay. A good night's sleep is worth its weight in gold and a succession of good nights considerably more.

Carver said...

You have such a good sense of humor in telling your difficult story. There is nothing more frustrating that having doctors not understand that something is different because you are already diagnosed with some specific issues. I've dealt with that myself.

In my case, although my cancer is in remission and probably will stay that way since I haven't had a recurrence since my lymph node dissection in 2005, anytime I mention something new it's either blown off as part of the myriad of side effects I've had for years, or they automatically do full body PET/CT scans even when I don't want that scan. PET is great for cancer but not necessarily useful for other things and there's this tendency for my docs to say, good news your PET is clean which is of course good news but I feel like saying BUT I didn't expect this new thing was caused by cancer.

It's like pulling teeth getting the right test. I sure hope that you will get some relief whether from the machine or something else.

Lynette Killam said...

I had a great chuckle at this piece, Kay, especially the last line,though I know too well how frustrating it is to be bounced from one specialist to another! I'll keep my fingers crossed that the new machine makes a big improvement. Will wait eagerly to hear how you make out...:)

Kay said...

Art has been through two sleep apnea tests where he had to go to the clinic and sleep over while they attached wires to him. A friend of mine was diagnosed and now uses a machine when she sleeps. She says it really has helped.

Seasons said...

Not a post like one of those regular medical papers because, it is so personal and even written with good humor. It is also appropriately descriptive. With the understanding and apparatus you have, I hope you get the precious, elusive, mysterious, restful sleep which is so very much needed. Thank you for sharing! - from an insomniac.

Joyful said...

Oh Kay, I could tell you stories *sigh, but I'm sure a lot of people could. I wear the mask. The firs time I tried it on trial for more than a month. I just couldn't wear it. The second time ( I got desperate so I tried it again), I took to it like a charm. It does help me but not in the ways I've thought. After even more sleep studies they think I have another sleep disorder because I wake all the time. I haven't had the time or energy to get more tests done yet. But I hope to. All of this to say, don't give up. If the two week trial is too short. Ask for more time. If it doesn't work, go back to it again later. Sleep apnea is serious stuff and the CPAP is the only real treatment that might help you. Good luck!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

It is amazing to me that your sense of humor remains intact! (Not to mention your sense of adventure.) I have occasional bouts of insomnia and I am no good whatsoever after a couple nights of no sleep. But everytime I think I need to get help then the next night I sleep well, so far so good.

Lynn said...

Poor baby, being sleep deprived is no fun. Hope something works for you!