"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sleep Study II: The Sleepening

I'll put this photo first. Then back up.
Don't worry. No one was harmed in the making of this blog. 

Previously on: 

When we last left little boy Xander, he was about to be put under for a Sleep Study. (Read that part first.)

The Call:

My original assumption of what the sleep study entailed was all wrong. I figured that once the boy was off the oxygen for a little while, they (and who "they" were was always ambiguous) would come to our house one night and check his pulse-ox while he slept. If he passed, they would take away all the oxygen equipment and declare Xander will live long and prosper.

When we got the call that the sleep study clinic had an opening on Sunday, I realized that we would instead be spending the night at the hospital, doing a full, thorough sleep study. Which is fine, except that only one parent is allowed to accompany the baby. For a variety of reasons, we decided it would be me, so I steeled myself for a night of fitful sleep in a room with a boy who looked like he was getting a positronic brain implant (see photo, above)

Waiting Room 
6:00-7:30 pm
(You can imagine these headings to be accompanied by the dramatic Law & Order "Chung-Chung" if you'd like.)

They told us to be there at 7:15. Then they called back and said that Xander will be the youngest patient in the clinic that night, so they'd like us to have him there by 6:00 instead. So that's when I got there. No one else was there, not even a receptionist. I spread my overnight bag, laptop bag, pillow, dinner from Sonic, and the car seat containing the boy across one of the couches and a couple of the tables in the room. A sign told me to dial a number and someone would come up front. A woman technician came in, handed me the clipboard full of papers to fill out, and said it might be a little while before they got to us.

Xander played on the floor while I ate. Four other parents with children came in. The children were all older, like 7 or 8 or 12. Two of them asked me incredulously if it was Xander who needed the sleep study. I explained about the prematurity and oxygen need. A young girl turned on the TV and turned it to Family Guy. I watched the entire episode, one of the few times I've done so, and found out that Rush Limbaugh apparently did his own voice on the show. Then a rerun of House came on. I fed Xander a bottle while pretending not to pay attention, though I like watching House, while the good doctor attempted to figure out what was wrong with the patient with the sexual fetishes and the guy who got herpes from his wife. I know Xander didn't care--he was now rolling around the room and sucking on his blanket--but I can't help but wonder what those other kids thought was going on on TV.

And I only write all this detail to show that there was absolutely no reason for me to be there at 6:00. At one point, the first technician came back out to tell me that my tech would be there around 7:15 and he'd then get Xander's room all ready. I began to wonder how necessary this all was.

Jacking In
7:45-9:30 pm

The tech's name was Eddie and he was so nice when he came out to take us back to the room that I forgot all about complaining that we'd been sitting out there for an hour and a half. He asked me some questions, and I related once again the tale of the prematurity and oxygen need. Eddie then proceeded to tell me about the dozens of leads he was about to attach to Xander in a variety of places from head to toe.

I had to hold my son while Eddie drew green dots all over the boy's head then tried to affix about ten electrical leads to Xander's scalp, everywhere from behind each ear to beside each eye. Each lead was dabbed in a sticky goop and taped down at the appropriate location. Xander endured it well, but wanted to grab at the wires coming out of the back of his head and several times pulled the lead clean off. I tightened my grip with the baby's arms across his chest until he couldn't stand it and wouldn't sit still one more second.

Eddie suggested a break, and I fed Xander a little more from a bottle, hoping he would fall asleep after such a heroic struggle. He did calm down, but no sleeping yet. Eddie tackled the rest and finally got his head wrapped up like he just had brain surgery.
Massive Headwound Harry

But wait, there's more. When you come in to the sleep clinic for a simple oxygen reading, you get your brain activity read and REM sleep studied and your jaw tapped and straps across your chest and connections down through your PJs to connect to the pulse-ox monitors on each big toe. As an added bonus, you get a brand new cannula inserted into the nasal cavity for easy monitoring of CO2 levels and the ability to feed oxygen if the need arises. And if you insist on pulling that off at the first opportunity, you will be required to wear the makeshift mittens made from socks and masking tape. Practical and stylish.

This took nearly two hours. It was past Xander's bed time.
He didn't stay this way. He tosses and turns and does push ups in his sleep now.

9:30 pm-6:00 am

In order to complete the final sticking and taping and wrapping, I put Xander in the crib and held him down. He wanted to squirm, but his will was wearing down. After his hands were literally tied, he knew his opportunity was lost and he gave up the struggle. I was able to cover his eyes and sooth him to sleep while Eddie and that first technician from the waiting room connected whatever else needed connecting. Eddie then brought in a fan to cool the boy down, since they were reading that his head temperature was pretty high. I told him that Xander tends to get sweaty before sleeping when he fights it, and I can't imagine that the mummy wrap was keeping him cool. So Xander was finally asleep, splayed out with a fan over him and bundled like a crash victim.

My wife had texted me several times during the procedure, but I was unable to respond. She must have been thinking something was terribly wrong. When I finally texted her back, Eddie kindly asked me to turn off the phone. He turned down the lights just as I was getting out my Kindle and laptop. I asked if I could read and showed him my little book light. He indicated that the light might interfere with the camera they have in the ceiling over the crib, but maybe I could sit on the small couch across the room. That's what I did, but not before opening my laptop to see how much light that would produce. I didn't use my laptop. I read the last two acts of The Merchant of Venice and called it a night myself at about 10:30. I slept on one of those skinny hospital beds right next to the crib.

The rest of the night was uneventful. I woke up a couple of times to find Xander doing some kind of push up in his sleep. I replaced the famed pacifier and he relaxed and went back to sleep. At 6:00 in the morning, Eddie woke us up and gently took Xander apart piece by piece. The boy was tired, but happy.
This kid is awesome. Seriously. Just look at his recovery. 

We keep telling everyone that Xander's a pretty happy kid. Even after this ordeal, he didn't seem fazed. Eddie told us he did great. There was no need for oxygen, and the results would go along to our doctor. For now, we can revel in the knowledge that our child no longer needs oxygen, day or night.

Well...he needs oxygen...we ALL need oxygen...day AND night...you know what I mean....


  1. XANDER IS SUCH A LITTLE CHAMP. Look at that face. I don't look that happy after a night of well-rested sleep in my own bed, let alone a night spent in a mummy wrap and mittens in a strange place attached to a gazillion wires.

  2. Fascinating stuff. Gald to hear he's off the oxygen... you know what I mean.

  3. What a trooper. If someone tried to do a sleep study on me like that they'd have to drug me unconscious and even then I would yank that stuff off of me in my sleep. Glad that's over, eh?

  4. Nice to have that piece of mind that you no longer need the bottled oxygen for Xander.

  5. @ Nicki: I know. I'm sure I didn't look that rested when we woke up that morning.

    @ Moody: Thanks. I do know what you mean.

    @ darev: I kept asking if the whole prep work would be easier if he were asleep first, since it was way past when he should have already gone to sleep, but they just took their time and kept him awake longer. I keep wondering if in different situations they have to knock people out to do sleep studies, and if that would even make a sleep study valid.

    @ Michael: For sure. Peace of mind is not overrated.

  6. Wow! I am amazed that he did so well sleeping in such a strange place, attached to tubes and wires everywhere. I don't think I could do that.

    I'm also thrilled to hear that the news is good, and that he can now be tube free! Yay for Xander! :)

  7. Nowadays I wouldn't even be able to sleep without all the tubes and wires if I knew somebody was watching me. I'd feel like Schrodinger's cat. The mere fact of their observation would affect the outcome.

  8. Thanks, Candice. He tends to sleep wherever, but then if you try to move him, he becomes cranky.

    So, darev, when they opened the door to wake you up, would you disappear?

  9. I'm not sure. But I suspect that for milliseconds I would be in a weird quantum state between sleeping and not sleeping, depending on if anybody was actually watching. If that went on for too long I would sneak out of the room and poop in somebody's shoes.

  10. That sounds like an ordeal. Our little bundle of puppy-dog tails has to spend more time at the doctor's office than I am comfortable with, but luckily there have been no overnight visits yet, and no cyborg implants.

  11. Yay for Xander! For the no longer needing the tank thing. I think it sucks they strapped him to a bunch of wires.

    But it looks kind of cute anyway.

    Still...I wonder how it felt to have the things glued to his hair?

  12. Oh no! I'm too late. Your son is already being assimilated by the Borg. Soon he'll be hooked into the hive mind. Well, at least as a Borg he won't need oxygen. They can survive in the vacuum of space. True story.

  13. @ darev: Particle or wave? Pick one.

    @ Doug: The doctor's visits are becoming more scarce, but that last one was a doozy, fur sure.

    @ Chanel: That glue didn't come out so easy, either. It was more greasy, though, than gluey.

    @ Bryan: Now that all the Star Treks are available on Netflix, I will have to see for myself if the Borg can really exist in a vacuum. And he hasn't told us resistance is futile yet, so there's still hope.

  14. Xander is a trooper! I'm glad he's okay! That must have been traumatic though.

  15. Thanks for visiting, Doralynn. And Xander seems to have made it out with few scars.

  16. I've loved reading your posts on Xander. Congrats on an oxygen-free 9you know what I mean) baby!

  17. That's an awesome story. Glad your kid is doing so well. He's very cute. And on a separate note, I LOVE the Merchant of Venice!

  18. Thanks, Julie. Just finishing teaching Merchant and working on a post about it like my Hamlet post last May.