The ravell’d sleeve of care…

>>>The ravell’d sleeve of care…

Life is something to do when you can’t get to sleep.

–Fran Lebowitz

Oh, c’maaaaaaaaaan!

So today, I get this call from Kaiser, can’t answer right away because my boss’ boss is teaching a class and I’m in the front row. I figure they want to talk about Elmo and my leg, and what’s going on with the proposed surgery(ies) and all,* so after the class is out and I’ve eaten lunch, I call them back.

“Cynthia, this is John, and I wanted to talk with you about your sleep study results.”

My what? Took me a second to remember that last week, in between orthopedic visits, I’d taken a boxful of gadgets home to test my sleep. Apparently it’s now standard procedure in a pre-op exam, if you admit to anyone that you snore.

The Elmo stories (of Elmo, my replacement knee and then the fight to save him when I smashed my femur) have been going on for more than two years now. People ask to read them start to finish, so I’ve set up this Saving Elmo index page to let you view the whole series in one swell foop.

I’d done as much to the pre-op doctor,** and she’d immediately drawn a bead on me. “Has anyone ever told you that you gasp and stop breathing at night? I think we need to get you into a sleep study before surgery.”

Next thing I knew I was sitting through the “why you should care about this” lecture in a class with two guys. We practiced hanging this shoebox-sized machine around our necks, adding waist and armpit bands, caps on our fingers, hoses up our noses and probes on our mouths, with tiny wires connecting it all together.

“Put it on tonight,” blurbled the sleep technician, “Just the way you’ve done here, and then go to bed and sleep normally.”

Spot the fallacy in that instruction?

“Excuse me, ma’am? If I’m wearing all this stuff, how am I supposed to sleep normally?” I asked, while my companions nodded vigorously.

“Most people don’t really notice,” she replied, without so much as an ironic giggle.

For the record: I noticed. So did Lola.

Since I’ve returned home, Lola has become…clingy. If I’m gone for more than a couple of hours, I get a scolding when I step through the door. She demands pets, gives out lovebites with abandon (ouch), and (here’s where this is relevant) sleeps curled up on my shoulder.

I suspect Nikki would happily join her, but Lola won’t allow her in the room. That night, when I donned my sleep study gear, she almost didn’t allow me in, either.

I wired up, climbed into bed and –flash–Lola was on my chest, batting an angry paw at my wiredupness. She oozed in between wires and made herself comfortable, ignoring my efforts to doze while wearing a cat, data recorder, elastic bands and a lot of tape. I slept, but I can’t say I did it very well.

I turned in the machine the next day, thought no more about it…until today. “You have,” John said, “Severe sleep apnea.”

“Severe sleep WHAT?”

“Apnea. You stop breathing, or at least take really shallow breaths, about 48 times per hour. We want you to come in to be fitted for a PAP.”

Dammit, Lola; look what you got me into THIS time! “Uhm, I should probably let you know that your results may be a leeeeeetle bit skewed on this, John,” I explained, “You see, I have this cat who slept on your little machine and probably ate the wires or something…”

“I doubt she ate all the wires,” John said, and I could hear the grin, “We had a lot of tests going and they corroborated each other. We’re pretty sure that wasn’t the cat.”


“So, we want to get you in as soon as possible to be fitted. How about tomorrow morning?”

“How about I call you in a couple of weeks?”

See, I’m more interested in leg surgeries and this very cool project I’m doing at work than in practicing buddy breathing in bed. To tell the truth, I’ve had just about enough medical poking and prodding and hospitals and clinics and exam rooms and such.

“Well, no. Severe apnea can cause all kinds of problems: Heart attacks, stroke, Type II diabetes…”

“None of which I have,” I pointed out, “And I doubt this apnea thing started last week, so apparently it’s not fatal.”

“…mood swings, depression, obesity…”

“Wait. Obesity? You mean if I wear this thing, I’ll automatically lose weight?”

“It can happen,” he said, “If tomorrow won’t work, we could try Friday…”

“No,” I said hastily, “Tomorrow looks great. See you then.” A random thought grazed my cerebellum. “Hang on! Does sleep apnea affect bone growth?”

Can you see where this is going?

“Well, it can, but you’ll probably want to ask the doctor about your specific case when you come in.”

So… while I’m not too keen–or convinced–about the sleep thing, at least it’ll be an interesting distraction from busted femurs. And wouldn’t it be ironic if my snoring is preventing The Leg from growing?

Sleep tight. Don’t let the CPAP bite…

*Ironically enough, after waiting for days to hear from Kaiser about my surgery, The Doc called this afternoon…just as I was at Kaiser, being fitted for a CPAP thing. So…I guess he’ll call back. Sigh.

**Mind you, I’ve never heard me snore and I’m not sure I believe it…except I remember the time I went down the Canal du Midi in a barge and my roomie Susan wound up sleeping on the kitchen table because it was a lot quieter to be in a room I wasn’t. Hmmmm….



  1. kathryncecelia July 26, 2017 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    I guess I make 4/4 with CPAP. When I had my bilateral knee replacement last year in July, they wanted me to postpone the surgery because I did not have my own CPAP. I was very miffed about the fact that we’d been through all kinds of tests beginning in February and NO ONE had said a thing then about my insomnia and trouble sleeping. I told them I would not get into the sleep clinic until two months hence. I told them they had had a lot of time to square me up with my sleep and had over looked it and so they better have a good anesthesiologist who can handle this, after all, what did they do before sleep studies? They agreed to do the surgery and it went just fine. After I came home from the hospital I had the sleep study. I knew then that my legs disturbed me as much as anything, I have restless leg syndrome. My legs jerked and danced around over 72 times in an hour and I also stopped breathing about 45/hr. So now I get better rest. My legs are still, my airways are open and my brain is getting more oxygen so I’m sharper than I was when sleeping with apnea. I have a good feeling that this might have been one big issue in your regeneration of bone. I’m praying for this to really help you. KaCe

  2. nancy barry July 26, 2017 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    My son has had a CPAP for 7+yrs. It made a big difference immediately. We can tell when he is not using it. I think that you will be surprised at how many folks use these marvelous machines.

  3. Judith July 26, 2017 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Barge down the Canal du Midi, one of my favorite things. Our favorite vacation destinations are the canal trips in France. We rent the boat and pilot it ourselves….Canal du Midi and Canal du Bourgogne ……..buying local foods in the small villages along the canals and cooking on the boat while moored aside vineyards and farm fields.

  4. Bob Heath July 26, 2017 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Like I told you in a PM, this is good news. I’ve been using a CPAP for about 30 years now. I think I was one of the first diagnosed at the, then, brand new sleep study center at St. Vincent’s. As Jeri said, it is life altering. In a good way. I can’t say that it cured my obesity, but it sure did cure my lethargy. The theory as to why it should help with obesity probably applies to bone growth as well. If you are continually stopping breathing during the night, the Oxygen levels in your blood fall to nil. It takes Oxygen to metabolize fat cells and burn them for energy, so with low O2 levels, you body can’t burn off fat during your sleep. I’m sure that low O2 is bad for lots of things besides metabolism, like bone growth for example. The CPAP is a nuisance to wear, but it’s worth it.

  5. Cathy Crain July 26, 2017 at 9:43 am - Reply

    After suffering a severe case of vertigo that lasted for months, I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, which was about 4 years ago. I always thought I was a ‘light sleeper’ and thought it was silly to have a sleep test. I thought the same thing when they put all that suff on me…who can seep like this! They had taken mri’s of my brain and I had polka dots (as per my son’s description). Long story short, I use it every time I sleep or take a nap (I am a believer in naps) and it makes all the difference in how I feel. I hate the cpap machine, but it is also better than dying, a stroke or just dragging ass all day! I can certainly see how it could help with any medical issue.

  6. Jeri Warhaftig July 26, 2017 at 8:29 am - Reply

    Finally, something I know a little about. Getting a CPAP was life altering for my husband (and I got some rest too). It did indeed help with depression, mood and PRODUCTIVITY! He charges out of bed after a night’s sleep. He got used to the inconvenience, but be sure to do some surfing on-line and try different mask versions under the doctor’s guidance until you have what is most comfortable. Also be prepared to travel with it. It doesn’t count as a carry on and TSA is on top of it IMHO. If it helps with bone growth that will be the cherry on top of the sundae (or really the whole darn sundae!). Hang in there. Jeri

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