Friday, July 27, 2012

If only bedbugs were the major problem

So I'm feeling heavy and sad at the moment, so naturally I'm making a huge negative out of something that promises to be largely positive, by which I mean a tentative-yet-almost-certainly-correct diagnosis of severe sleep apnea.

I waited months for an appointment at the sleep clinic at the Royal Ottawa Hospital. And of course I almost didn't go because why NOT get incredibly pessimistic and assume that it won't help at the last minute? The psychiatrist/sleep specialist guy was AWESOME. Not dismissive, not supercilious, not humourless (all things I've come to expect from medical specialists). There was a long set of forms to fill out and an exhaustive interview about family medical history, my history of depression and anxiety, the fact that I display allergy symptoms but the allergist says I'm not allergic to anything (this doctor said: "just because you're not allergic to anything in his little needles doesn't mean you're not allergic to anything" - HA!). Then at the end of this he spent thirty seconds looking in my mouth and said, "Huh. Your palate is the size of the average eight-year-old's. And your tongue is actually fairly small, but enormous in comparison. I'll eat my stethoscope if you don't have severe sleep-breathing issues."

So there. Years and years and years of never waking up feeling rested, of not being able to drag myself out of bed unless I absolutely have to, and feeling like a zombie when I did. I have my overnight assessment at the end of September and then likely will be provided with a CPAP machine. And it could all get better. The doctor said this probably developed when I hit puberty. I said "cripes, I could have been a brain surgeon". I was joking.

But today my thinking is a jumble of stuff like this: how stupid am I that I didn't do this years earlier; what if it doesn't work and things stay the same; I've always suspected that the sleep stuff is all tied up with my depression and weight stuff, but what if it's not; how much of my life have I wasted sleeping. I could have been a better mother, a better student, a better worker, a better person.

In other words, it's an ugly knotted tangle of being afraid that the treatment won't work and being afraid that it will work.

Let me approach these concerns rationally. None of my doctors suspected this condition or suggested the sleep clinic despite years of hearing about how I never felt rested when I woke up - they just gave me sleeping pills. Sleep clinics weren't even on my radar until recent years, and if they were then they were for people who had REAL problems (whatever those were). There is every chance that things could improve, but it won't be a magic bullet, so I shouldn't expect to suddenly be Suzie Sunshine or lose thirty pounds, and THAT'S OKAY.

I've been joking since my appointment that when anyone bugs me about sleeping late I can just say "I have a medical condition" now, but the truth is no one really does. My husband is sweet and understanding about it and my kids have never known me to be any other way - they just know that I'm going to be not much use to them in the early morning, and we figure out how to mange that. I did realize shortly after describing the condition to Angus as a breathing obstruction and then said I wasn't going for the overnight assessment for a couple of months that I had just intimated to my anxious child that I don't get oxygen at night, so I assured him that I wouldn't die before then, which was good because I'm pretty sure he would have been parked beside my bed to make sure I was breathing otherwise.

So I need to settle the fuck down. My life hasn't been a waste because of this, and treatment is just a good thing.

Besides, I'm pretty great even at half-speed. Maybe I would have been just Too Much Awesome for the world without this.

13 comments:

Nicole said...

Treatment is always a good thing, but of course it doesn't mean your whole entire life has been a waste just because the treatment is coming years after symptoms present. It's hard not to dwell on it, but hey, you're pretty awesome even with being tired - so maybe once you start getting regular rest you're going to have to get a cape and become superwoman. Or, maybe you'll just feel better! Either way, it's all good.

I knew someone who had sleep apnea, and the treatment was removal of her adenoids or something, and the difference it made in her life was enormous!

Pam said...

Well if you are this awesome in a sleep-deprived state, you will be incredible (with or without cape) after a bit with the thingies that de-apneaize you. (See? I get real good sleep and I suck. Will you still talk to me?)

Glad you found some answers. xoxo

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

Well I'm glad things seem to be moving along in the answer department. How awesome are specialists? I just love that they spend less than a minute and can solve problems that everyone else spent years wondering about. Too bad it's such a pain to get into see them.

Lynn said...

I think that's seriously amazing news. I value sleep a LOT - I can't imagine the torture of going to bed at night and not feeling like it's a sweet, safe haven. I hope you'll reach that point, and soon.

StephLove said...

Good luck with the treatment. Sleep deprivation is the worst. Both my kids are poor sleepers so I've been in various states of sleep deprivation for the past 11 years. It's nothing now like when they were little, but still not the sleep I'd like.

Mary Lynn said...

So glad you ended up with a good doctor with a sense of humour. I hope he is able to help you.

I'm trying to imagine an Allison who's even MORE awesome and my mind's having trouble getting around that idea.

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

I hope that works out. My father in law had good results using the CPAP. There cannot be too much Allison Awesomness!

Shan said...

Treatment is awesome! Sooner would have been better, but it's here now and that is great. My husband has sleep apnea and his cpap machine really changed everything.

The Host said...

So The Husband got his CPAP about two years ago. It has changed his life, for the better. Pre-CPAP he would spend about 9-10 hours a day in bed and still dragged his ass all day. Now he's chock full of piss and vinegar after a solid seven.

He too delayed and dragged his feet and then wondered why he took forever to do it. I pointed out, quite cleverly (I like to think) that now that he's got an extra couple of hours a day to think about it. You will too!

Julie said...

yeah sleep! get over trying to think what life COULD have been like if you got it earlier and focus on how to deal with the awesome changes it WILL be with treatment. supper crazy excited for you!

NatteringNic said...

Wishing you a restful slumber filled with lots of delicious REM sleep. Good luck!

Patti said...

Funny how we can leave no positivity downturned, eh?

I understand your ambivalence on the issue. I always wonder if I could be doing more and better things too.

This has the potential to be a major game changer for you. That said, the road to hell is paved with high expectations.

I miss you. Have fun in New York, baby.

Patti said...

Could I squeeze any more trite, made up and mixed up metaphors in there? Methinks no.