Thursday, January 24, 2008


I've been wrecking my husband's sleep for years - probably decades. I snore just like 24% of adult American women. Not every night. Sometimes, not more than heavy breathing. But when I get going I apparently sound like an old geezer honking away.
I've tried lubricating mouth spray, Breathe Right Strips ( a barely more humane form of close pins on the nose), special pillows, a snore guard, and herbs. Nothing worked. (In full disclosure, I did lose the snore guard about a year or so ago.)
With the odds of nights spent in my own bed with my husband less and less favorable than nights alone with my cat in the guest bedroom, I gave in to the possibility that sleep apnea might be the culprit and agreed to do a sleep test.
For the same outrageously-high fee of $2300 (before hoped-for insurance reimbursement), I was given the choice of doing the sleep test in a hospital room or in a new Crowne Plaza Hotel. That's like asking a kid whether she wants gruel or pancakes with eggs and bacon for breakfast. I opted for the hotel room.
I packed my fluffy sheepskin slippers and my Nick and Nora pajamas covered in sheep. Once settled into my room, I tried to relax and get sleepy by reading the business section of The New York Times. Exactly at 9 p.m., my phone rang. It was Frank, the technician, who was headed my way.
In all of my sheep-pajama glory, I shuffled to the door and opened it. Frank from Nigeria, all 6 feet 2 inches of him, smiled and entered. Once unpacked, he settled me down in a chair and began to hook me up.
The process of hooking me up took almost an hour. He wadded
gobs of sticky gunk into my hair into which he attached sensors to measure brain waves. He connected multi-colored wires to my leg, my chest, and to my forehead. He gently pushed tubes up both nostrils to register my breathing patterns. He taped another sensor to my throat. And then he asked me if I had to "use the facilities."
What happens if I have to go in the middle of the night?" I asked, realizing for the first time that I would be a virtual prisoner. "You'll have to call me," he said. Right then and there, I decided that I'd whet my bed rather than call Frank. The humility of it . . . Not to mention that I already looked like Phyllis Diller on a good day.
I had trouble falling asleep. Who wouldn't attached to so many wires like a marionette controlled by a puppeteer on crack? Finally, I dozed off, sleeping fitfully and waking up on and off all night. The phone next to my bed rang at 5 a.m. It was Frank. He was on his way from his all-night observation room down the hall.
The freedom of getting unhooked was like escaping from a Houdini trap. I tried to get Frank to tell me if I'd snored or tossed and turned like those guinea pigs for bad mattress ads on TV. But he wasn't the doctor, he said. I'd have to wait for the results.
I'm still waiting. It should be another day or two. But funny thing: I haven't snored since.

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