I’m sure a lot of readers have had sleep tests. I am far more sympathetic to you today than I was yesterday. I don’t know how long it will be before I get the results, but I hope I never need another “polysomnography” again.
I got to the hospital at 8 p.m. last night and checked in to the sleep lab. They attached wires everywhere, including to a fingertip, my neck, my legs, my chest, below my nostrils, and a bunch of places on my head, using both goop and tape. There were also a couple of devices to wear for a study some students were doing (about sleep tests! They are hoping to create a system you can use at home. Good plan.) They gave me three long questionnaires to complete (seriously. About 15 pages total). Then at about 10:45 p.m., the technician, Steven, a gentle and patient man originally from Ghana, said “Do you have to go to the bathroom before sleeping?” So I walked to the bathroom trailing all my wires. I must have looked like an overfull colander of spaghetti walking down the hall. Managing in the bathroom was quite a trick, as I’m sure you can imagine.
Back in my room, I told Steven that the room was freezing, and he kindly brought me three more sheets, but I was still not warm enough. So in addition to the equipment, I had four sheets, socks and a bathrobe plus my sleep wear, and my hair stood up like Phyllis Diller’s. (Look it up, kidlets.) I felt like a car wired for a boost, and I was a sight for sore eyes, I tell you. Should have taken a selfie.
At 11 p.m., Steven hooked the wires up to the monitoring system and turned out the lights. Despite a sleeping pill, I tossed and turned. I tossed. I turned. I tried listening to podcasts but they were too interesting, and I couldn’t get Spotify (where I sometimes listen to the sounds of rain or ocean waves). So I gave up on that. I tried meditating. It didn’t put me to sleep, and I wasn’t feeling too zen so I probably didn’t do a very effective job of it. In fact, I was about ready to rip off all the wires and tell poor Steven to F*** the test: I was going to sleep without them. At about 2 a.m. I had to go to the bathroom again, so Steven came back in and disconnected me and then when I returned he reattached all the wires I’d disconnected with my tossing and turning and bathrooming.
At about 3 (I think) I finally fell asleep and at 6 a.m., Steven came in and said cheerfully, “Time to get up!” He pulled all the wires off, ripping off a thin layer of skin on my face, neck, chest along with the tape (“Sorry, Sorry, Sorry”), and gave me another questionnaire. There was goop all over me because of how they attach the things that hold the wires, but they can’t let people have showers because of COVID so I left the hospital goopy. Arnie (my guardian angel) was waiting outside at the appointed hour (7) and he drove me to McDonalds for breakfast (we ate in the car), then we came home and I went to bed and slept for three hours. It was a night to remember.
The last question on the last questionnaire was “Do you have any comments?” I said, “The room was too cold.” I figured the rest of the problems came with the territory, but I had to complain about something.