Guinea Pig

Posted on: 2 July, 08

On Monday and Tuesday, I spent the night at the hospital.  No, I was not sick, at least not in the traditional sense.  I am participating in a research study on insomnia. This is a diagnostic study which means I am not taking any medication.  They are just doing lots and lots of tests to try to figure out why people have insomnia. 

First was the psychological evaluation which was a little intimidating.  I knew what they were looking for with the various questions.  “Have you ever heard voices but no one else was in the room?”  “Do you think you have special powers that enable you to do things other people can’t?”  As I was answering the questions, it occurred to me that when you are crazy you think your answers make sense.  What if I only thought my answers were sane but I was actually nuttier than a fruitcake?  No worries, the doctor said I am probably one of the most well adjusted people on the planet.  Whew! 

Then came the two nights at the sleep lab.  No, it was not like a mini vacation from my children.  The little rooms were like a small office with bed instead of desk.  Each person had their own room.  The bed was moderately comfortable.  I was told I could bring a “comfort item” if it would help me sleep.  My laptop was not considered a comfort item.  Because there was no phone, television, or computer, it felt a little bit like prison.  They also lock you in the room so no one can get in while you are asleep.  I could unlock it from the inside, but hear that key in the lock as the technician left definitely gave it a prison vibe.

I arrived an hour and a half before my normal bedtime.  It took an hour for two technicians to hook up all the wires and sensors to my body.  They were amused by my Hello Kitty pajamas.  The glue used to hold the sensors on the scalp does not wash out hair easily.  Ewww.  After reading for a while, the technicians come to tuck you in and plug in my wires to the monitors.  Typically, I toss and turn all night.  Not so easy to do while strung up with more wires than a marionette.  Oh, and then there is the video camera that records you while you sleep.  Yeah, that is “real” calming.  The first night, I did not have my watch on so I had no idea what time it was.  Pure torture.  There was no window to see if it was still dark outside.  The second night, I kept my watch on and figured out that I could use the red light from my pulse ox monitor to see the time.  That might have been cheating a little bit, but it did wonders for my sanity.  At 6 a.m., they “woke” me up.  Well, I had actually been awake for a couple hours, so it is more like they “let me get up.”  They ripped off all the wires and sensors and sent me home.  Hospital halls are really, really quiet at that hour of the morning. 

After they evaluate the data from the overnight stays, I will meet with a few other doctors, neurologist, pulmonologist, etc. In the end, they will hopefully give me a diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Insurance was mostly likely not pay for this type of testing, which would cost thousands of dollars.  The insomnia is no longer a novelty.  However, I am amazed at how well I am functioning on only 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night.  It would be awesome to figure out why I cannot sleep.  I have tried all the usual tricks and home remedies.  I hope these guys have an answer, and that the answer is not that my super power is surviving on little to no sleep every night. 


6 Responses to "Guinea Pig"

Wow – sorry your having this trouble… When I first saw your post, I thought it was a new pet – LOL! I too have sleep troubles, and have finally settled on using valerian to help me sleep – I can get a good 5-7 hours sleep vs 3-5 without it. Hope the docs actually can help.

wow, i doubt there’d be many people who could sleep in that situation!!! i hope they can find you an answer.

I had a sleep study done about 8 years ago. Weird, to say the least. But it was more like a hospital room. They scolded me for turning the heat on, but dangit, I was cold! The most awkward part was having to get up in the middle of the night to pee. I did the study because I snore really badly and had all the signs of sleep apnea – and that was when I weighed less than I do now. But no sleep apnea, just upper airway obstructive disorder or something like that.

I hope they find a solution to your insomnia because that really sux. I know.

I sleep a lot less than my DH – about 6 hrs a night. At times I’ve had bouts of insomnia lasting for a couple of months but luckily they always seem to sort themselves out. I was a guinea pig in a study at uni when I was younger. They taught me a technique to try and go to sleep – to imagine my body going to sleep starting at my little toe and gradually working up to my head, tensing each part and relaxing it as I went. It worked sometimes and I still fall back on it sometimes. I guess it’s kinda like meditation. Good luck! I hope they find something to help you.

I hope you can find some answers, Teri!

I had to laugh when you said your laptop was not a “comfort item” that would be allowed….guess that puts the sewing machine out of the running as well, eh? Too bad it wasn’t NEXT week when you’d have the new ottobre!

Take care of yourself and have a great weekend.

Teri – this sounds fascinating! I would be very interested to hear what you learn about yourself and if they are able to share info from others in the study that would be great too. Hopefully they will publish the results of the study. Virginia

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