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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sleep Apnea and Parkinson's - Part 2 of 3 - Overcoming Overload

This is Part 2. If you need to read Part 1 first, that is HERE.

Friday night, I went to my second sleep study, which confirmed what I know - I have moderate sleep apnea. However, this time, I would be wearing a CPAP mask (I incorrectly refer to this as a COPD mask in the video), and I would be sleeping on my back (which I did to start the show). These would help me learn about the process I was about to go through as well as tell the doctors everything that they needed to know to begin my treatment.

Driving the 10 minute journey to the sleep center, my technician Michelle was back again this time, reprising her role as the knowledgeable medical professional, but I was a different man than the last time. Whereas the first time I went to the appointment hoping to hear that I could put this part of my life aside for the future, this time, I knew it was coming, and a part of me was wishing that the Laginas would have been in charge of things. Nevertheless, if this was what I needed... 

Leaving my wife at home on Friday was one of those airport goodbyes. My stomach was filled with nervousness, and even though I'd see her in the morning, it felt like I was going away for a month. I have to say that not only is that feeling not one of my favorites, but it sucks.

All the same, I went off like a man sent to the Revolutionary War, feeling like I was standing across from the Brits, who were going to shoot me. After arriving at the show, I got myself set up and ready for the performance. That's where it all changed. 

The first major difference was felt while putting on the nose-only mask. I couldn't just breathe through my nose, and it was causing me to freak out when I closed my mouth.

This paranoid sensation paralleled issues I had on my trip to Cancun, Mexico, with a pair of water activities and a bus ride (the summer before my official diagnosis, but almost 5 years since symptoms began). This moment was a similar experience to my issues with things like self-use cash registers and robotic-voice phone trees. Granted, it wasn't the DC and Baltimore Beltway traffic and being hungry (because like the Snickers commercial says, "You're not you when you're hungry").

You can read about the extreme overloads more HERE

As for Mexico, that was the first time, IN LOOKING BACK, that I hit that emotional overload level. 

The first time happened when I failed miserably trying to use the flippers, snorkel, and diving propulsion device to do a snorkeling adventure in Cancun. I couldn't do anything in the surf with any of these things and despite the woman in charge trying to be helpful, I remember handing her my stuff and being so upset that I was about to storm off. Remembering that I was a big boy, I went back and took them back from her since they were my responsibility. Looking at it now, I feel really sorry for acting that way, even though I know it's Mr. Parkinson's fault. 

Now, I would warn people of my situations ahead of time (like I did with the possible blood draw failure reactions in the hospital) or I wouldn't do the activity (like the planned trip Heather and I had for the Underwater Museum, which she did solo)

The next trip to underwater scooters with breathing bubble was even worse. Somewhere between being a monolingual American trying to navigate communication in a culture where I didn't speak the language (this is my fault - I should have been better prepared for this situation), I was trying to decide whether I could do the scooter with a splitting pressure headache using hand signals. In situations like this, an "AOK" thumb's up looks a lot like take me up. In the end, after a few minutes of back and forth, I had to nearly punch the water's ceiling repeatedly to get out of a situation I couldn't handle, even though I felt like I should. 

As for the bus, between the shakiness and sudden stops, my mind was out of whack, and it made me into a full-fledged jerk (thank you very much, Mr. Parkinson's, you jerk!). Gotta love the combination of Parkinson's, stress, and the dizzying effects of motion sickness. 

Well, this other Dan was back for the sleep study, and he felt that overload, moving quickly from a nose only mask to a bigger nose and mouth CPAP device. While I could breathe, I still felt like I was freaking out with a muffled voice and the permanent consequence of needing the mask for life. Mind you, it takes time to come down after an incident (eyes closed and left alone with deep breathing and peaceful thoughts).

In my state of overload, I still had things to do, so my angst and paranoia weren't getting any better as I prepared for bed and did the sensor tests. Here, they checked blinking eyes, moving eyes with eyelids closed, and the twitching toes without moving the legs test, which I was having trouble with. 

The problem in some of these situations for me is that I get defensive and upset easily in these situations, so "I'm trying" comes off as an almost desperate or hostile reaction. I apologize for these things and explain them, but it doesn't mean that people "get it" (though my tech was very professional and understanding, even though I felt like Mr. Parkinson's was making me a jerk). 

After the room went dark, despite being hooked up to the respirator and being on my back, I managed to fall asleep really quickly. This was good because I wanted to escape the world.

In the middle of the night, we switched around from back to side, and I fell right back to sleep, making it all the way until 530 or so, which was my request so that I could be up early to get unwired and back home to my wife for a goodbye before she went to NYC with my mom, sister, and niece to go see Aladdin.

I'm glad I saw her after the stress of the night before. It was a better end to a long night. Also, being told how well I slept and waking up to a non-overloaded feeling of "maybe this is what it is" says that the nights of O2 sleeping are here, but so is all of the symptoms that this was causing. To this, I thanked the tech, and moved myself forward to a new world and new normal of sleep apnea.

So it goes.

Time will tell. Next stop, doctor's appointment 3 coming down the road.

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