Losing and finding some sleep in my middle-aged years


Several years ago, I started getting complaints from my husband, and even my children. It was about an unpleasant noise emanating from our bedroom. They said it sounded like a freight train was going through our house, but they finally figured out it was me―snoring.

One of the things I’d always prided myself on was being a quiet sleeper. I had  memories of my own mother making ear-splitting sounds when she slept,  so I guessed  I was being paid back for complaining about it.

After my husband recorded my snoring, which was enough to wake the dead, I took my first trip to a Sleep Apnea Doctor.

I could tell this was going to cost me big bucks because the there were numerous comfortable couches, a colorful rug, and a large-screened TV.

I couldn’t help noticing that most of the people in the waiting room were heavy. I was figuring out that obesity and snoring are closely related.  I later learned that you can be skinny and have this disorder too. It all has to do with size, and muscles. Unfortunately, the older you get, the more your muscles relax.

After talking with me, the doctor told me  I’d have to attend an over-night sleep study.
“You  probably stopped breathing during the night without knowing it. You wake yourself up, but don’t remember it,”he said.

The next night I reluctantly packed a suitcase, and attended my first sleep study. I was connected to some bizarre machine with electrodes  They connected them to my hair, arms, legs, and other places.

After this fiasco, I was supposed to go to sleep for the night so they could record my brain waves, and how many times I actually  had trouble breathing during the  night.

Have you ever tried to go to sleep with tons of electrodes connected to your body?  The room looked like a nice homey bedroom, but I was not enjoying myself.

I felt like I was in a new episode of The Twilight Zone. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Rod Serling, creator of the science fiction series, was in the next room monitoring my breathing on a large screened computer.

If things weren’t bad enough, the sleep aides were  drinking coffee, pop, and eating cookies in their break room.

“How am I going to get any sleep when you’re making all that noise?” I asked. They quieted down, and hoped I’d fall asleep.

After it seemed like I’d just gotten to sleep , I was awakened at 6 A.M, and  answered some questions. I was not in a good mood.

They allowed me to take a quick shower to take all the electrode glue out of my hair. It would take me several days to completely get it out.

After returning to the office, they informed me I had moderate sleep apnea, and would have to return for another overnight to test out the Sleep Apnea machine. After going through the whole procedure again, I discovered that sleep with a Sleep Apnea machine is very refreshing.

These two little trips to the overnight pajama party cost a couple of hundred dollars.

“Don’t worry about it…your insurance will pay for it,” said the doctor’s pretty young assistant.

What if you don’t have insurance?  What if you have a stroke, heart attack, or some other serious manifestation of untreated sleep apnea?  They say you could stop breathing and die.

Finally, I purchased a Sleep Apnea machine. I looked like I was a patient in the hospital.  I definitely felt like I could qualify as an alien from outer space.  It has several parts, and I am not really a machine person. I’ve tried going without it, but the sleep isn’t as good.

My big objection: you have to replace parts every few months. But, of course your insurance pays for some of it.

The Patient Assistant proposed to me an oral device: price $3000.00. My dentist could make it for me, but I couldn’t try it out first.

sleep apnea mask

sleep apnea mask A woman with a mask on, not me!

If my insurance wouldn’t pay for it, it would cost me a mere $700.00. I decided I had no choice, but to stick with my machine.

I think the doctors have figured out it’s okay to hold middle-aged women and men hostage.

After all, what’s more important than a good nights sleep?

What do you think? Have you ever had an experience with sleep apnea?

The Twilight Zone (1985 TV series)
I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Rod Serling at my sleep study
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