insomnia The past few nights have been particularly rough.  This first night after my surgery, I was tired enough to sleep, but woke up constantly with drainage that required bandage changes.  The next night, I woke up at 2am and couldn’t fall back to sleep until 4am.  During that time, I began having panic attacks about not being able to breathe.  The night before last, however, was the worst yet.  I got to sleep at the respectable hour of 11pm.  I even delayed sleep to make sure I was very tired.  I stayed asleep until 1:30am – A mere 2.5 hours.  Then, I was awake.

I had planned for this and tried various things, reading a book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows which proved too exciting to lead to sleep), watching TV (nothing good is on at 2am and I couldn’t find anything on Netflix to watch), I even caught up on nearly all of the feeds in my Feedly reader list.  However, just when my eyes started to get blurry and I could feel myself drifting off, sleep would elude me and I’d suddenly be awake again.

At around 5:30am, I gave up and accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to get any rest.  Oddly enough, I wasn’t totally exhausted.  If anything, I felt wired.  After B dropped the boys off at camp and after we had breakfast, I went for a walk around the block because I felt like it.  It was a nice day – not too hot and not too cold and not too humid.  Moving my legs made me feel better.  I did take a quick 15-30 minute cat nap at one point after returning home, but I didn’t feel too bad.

In fact, my nose began to feel better as the day went on.  As of this writing, the night before this goes live, I’m both hopeful that I’ll get a good night’s sleep and frightened about having another sleepless night.  If you see some odd tweets from me around 2am, take it as a sign that my insomnia returned and my brain has finally snapped under the strain.  Then hop on over to B’s twitter feed because I might just be taking her along with me on the insomnia ride to crazy town.

NOTE: The "insomnia" image above is composed of Emoticons: Sleeping Face by nicubunu and No-Sign by skotan.  Both are available via

Sleepless Nights Approaching Surgery

For the past week or so, I haven’t been sleeping well.  My nights are filled with stressful dreams that leave me exhausted in the morning.  There are two reasons for this.  Unfortunately, the solution to the first reason is, in fact, the second reason.

Let me back up a bit.  I’ve always had a problem breathing through my nose.  One nostril seems perpetually stuffed up.  Almost twenty years ago, I had surgery to help correct this.  Unfortunately, one of the big helps would have been fixing my deviated septum and the insurance company at the time deemed that "for cosmetic purposes only" a day before the operation.  While the surgery (cutting my noses’ turbinates) helped, my problem just got worse over the years.

These days, I live with a near constant pressure in my nose.  It will often feel like it is about to stop but just keeps going on.  Medicines don’t help and it is affecting my sleep.  (Though my sleep study found that I have a normal sleep pattern.)  I’ll often wake up after a good night’s sleep feeling tired instead of well-rested.

My doctor finally decided to give me a CAT scan and immediately saw the problem.


TechyDad's CAT Scan

For those who can’t immediately read CAT scans, here is a marked up version:

TechyDad's CAT Scan Annotated

My right nostril is a lot narrower than my left nostril.  My doctor informed me that this is because a structure in my nose tried to form a third breathing passage instead of what it was supposed to form.  (Three nostrils with only two openings – Worst. Mutant. Superpower. Ever!)  This pushed the left side of my nose over to the right side, narrowing that passage down.  Once any irritant is added to the mix (allergies, cold, etc), that passage goes from "narrow stream" to "completely blocked up" very quickly.

The good news is that this problem is fixable.  I’m scheduled to have surgery at the end of this month to take care of this issue.  Much like JSL’s surgery, I’ll be put under while the doctors perform various procedures.  This time, insurance is covering a deviated septum operation.  Hopefully, this will open up my nasal passages and allow me to breathe easier.

Which leads us to the second reason why I’ve been unable to sleep well:  Anxiety.

As the surgery date approaches, I’m getting more and more anxious.  I’ll admit that I like being in control of situations.  Being out of control scares me.  Being put under anesthesia while people slice into you is about as far from "in control" as you can get.  Add in that my brain keeps coming up with bad things that could happen and my stress levels are rising day by day.

I know, intellectually, that this is similar to my fears about flying.  Completely overblown and thanks to various shows/movies depicting surgery (and air travel) as something that regularly goes wrong.  After all, a completely uneventful surgery that goes as planned or a flight that doesn’t even hit horrible turbulence are just boring when depicted on screen.  Still, my fears aren’t listening to my intellectual retorts.  They just see "big scary surgery" looming ever closer.

As much as I’m dreading Surgery Day, I’m also hoping it gets here quickly so it can be over quickly.  Then, hopefully, I can actually get a good night’s sleep.

My Sleep Study Experience

For awhile now, I’ve had trouble with sleep.  No matter what time I go to bed or how long I sleep, I often feel tired in the morning.  What’s more, B has noticed me gasping for air and kicking during the night.  Of course, the worry here is sleep apnea.  After getting my nose looked at by an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, I was told to get a sleep study.

At my initial visit to set up an appointment, I was showed around the facility and given a walk-through of what would happen.  This was very reassuring as I didn’t know a thing about what "a sleep study" entailed except that I would be sleeping during it.

Then, on Sunday night, I arrived at the center to check in.  After signing some paperwork, I was showed to my room.


Obviously, this isn’t a four star hotel, but it’s not too shabby either.  My room happened to have no windows, but I didn’t really care about that.  They do have rooms with windows that people can request if that is important to them.

The room was pretty sparse.  Just a bed, a chair, night stand (mainly used for electronic equipment – more on that later), and a fan.  Of course, the only real purpose of this room is for sleeping so sparse is just fine.

If you wanted to watch TV or have a snack (that you packed beforehand), there’s a common room with comfy couches, a table and chairs, a TV, a fridge and more.  Wi-Fi was available so I could browse the Internet while I waited as well.


After being shown my room, my technician explained what would happen during my sleep study.  Basically, there are four stages of sleep.  The first two are light sleep stages that we can easily be woken out of.  The third involves our brain replaying items from our short term memory and storing them in long term memory.  The fourth stage is REM or the stage where we dream.  We need stages three and four to feel rested so you can sleep for 10 hours, but if you are only getting stages 1 and 2 you will wake up feeling exhausted.

The technician explained again how things would basically work and asked what time I usually went to sleep.  Then, he told me to change into my pajamas.  Once that was done, I was free to stay in my room or go into the common room.  I did the latter but eventually moved to my room for awhile.

Soon, my technician returned.  It was time to get wired.  Literally.

We went into the lab.  He began by asking me to thread two sets of wires down my shirt, down my pants, and out of my pants legs.  I did this with a little difficulty.  (Those wires loved getting stuck along the way.)

Next, I sat down as he put glue on spots of my scalp and attached wires there.  Wires were also placed all around my face.  The wires coming out of my pants were attached to my lower legs near my ankles.  All of these wires were plugged into a little rectangular box which I was told to wear around my neck.  By the end, I was truly a "Techy" Dad.


I later joked to people that I felt like one of those bombs from the movies.  Cut the red wire!  No, the blue one!


I was allowed to pass the time any way I wanted until it was time to go to sleep.  It was odd having someone walk in my room and tell me it was time for bed.  Normally, that’s me telling my boys that!

I sat on my bed and still more items were attached to me.  An oxygen meter was placed by my nose and mouth to record what I was breathing into/out of and how much oxygen I was getting.  A microphone was attached to my throat.  Finally, straps were placed around my torso and stomach with more wires.  This whole affair was plugged into that rectangular box which, in turn, was plugged into a port on the night stand.  (Remember that "electronic equipment"?)


I felt like I had a giant wire ponytail.  Not exactly conducive to sleep.  Especially when you factor in that the room had a camera and microphone so they could watch/listen to me all night.


I was all ready for bed and could now lie down.

ready-for-sleep like-im-going-to-sleep-like-this

The technician turned off the lights and shut the door, but it wasn’t sleep time just yet.  First, he needed to run me through some tests to make sure that the sensors were working properly.  I had to keep my head still and move my eyes up and down.  Then side to side.  Then, I had to move my left foot and then my right one.  Thank goodness I wasn’t told to do the hokey pokey.   With all of those wires, I wouldn’t have been able to turn myself around.

Finally, I was given the go ahead to go to sleep.  I remember having a fitful night of sleep.  I wasn’t sure whether the setup made me uncomfortable, or whether it was just nerves, or something else, but I had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.  It didn’t help when, at one point, my technician woke me up to readjust some sensors.  (I took the opportunity to use the little Cyber-man’s room.  Quite an interesting experience, but one I won’t blog in detail about.)

Finally, at 5:40 am, I was roused by my technician who said that they had noticed I was waking up and it was time to go.  Funny.  I didn’t feel like I was waking up.  Then again, they are the ones who had wires monitoring my brain!

They carefully unhooked me and removed some of the items.  Then, we went back to the lap where the glued on wires were removed and I pulled the other wires out of my pants.  I was sent to the restroom to wash up and was allowed to pack up and go home.  (Once at home, a nice, long, hot shower took care of the glue in my hair.)

I still don’t have the results of the sleep study.  Part of me is hoping that they find something.  It will mean that the co-pay wasn’t "wasted money" and perhaps my sleep issues can be resolved.  On the other hand, another part of me hopes they don’t find anything because, really, who wants something to be wrong with them?  In any event, it was quite an interesting experience.  However, I don’t think I’d want to repeat it anytime soon.

Sleep and Fear

I really need to call the doctor.  And, unfortunately, I don’t mean a time travelling Gallifreyan with a blue box and a sonic screwdriver.  (Though meeting one of those would be nice.)

For the past few months, I’ve been tired. It seems that no matter how long I sleep, I still feel like I haven’t slept at all. I’ll spend an entire night having dreams that tire me out, and wake up feeling like I haven’t slept at all.  What’s more, B has mentioned that I’ve been making noises in my sleep like I’m gasping for air.  She also mentioned that I’ve been kicking a lot.  We’re fearing sleep apnea.

So, like I said, I should see a doctor.  And yet, I delay.  Part of it is that money is tight so I prioritize everything and everyone else above me.  I rationalize that this can’t be that serious so why spend money on it?  That money can go towards repairs we need to make on the house or on items we need to buy for the kids.

Of course, if I’m being honest, there’s another part of me that’s not addressing this because I’m scared.

I’ve always had trouble breathing through my nose.  Years ago, I had an operation to get my turbinates cut back.  I was supposed to have a deviated septum operation at the same time to help my breathing, but the insurance company denied it.  (They claimed that part was for cosmetic reasons only.)  Still, I went through with some of the surgery.  Going into surgery was fine.  Waking up with my nose plugged up and a tube in my throat wasn’t.

Years later, after a horrid bout of nosebleeds, I had my nose cauterizedTwice.  The nights I spent awake because my nose was swelled shut and the dripping felt like it was going to close my throat off as well was horrid.

Obviously, neither experience is one I’d like to repeat, but I’m afraid that the doctor will tell me that surgery is needed.  I’m afraid that it will cost money we don’t have.  I’m afraid that I’ll end up spending long nights exhausted but awake thanks to the after effects of the procedures.

I’ll call the doctor eventually.  I know I’ve got to stop rationalizing and avoiding.  When my kids are afraid of something, I challenge them to face it head on because things are rarely as scary as our minds make them out to be.  However, when confronted with a frightening prospect, I avoid the situation just like they do.  So I’ve got to summon my courage and make the call.  Not for me, but to show my kids that they need to see a doctor when something’s wrong and that they need to face their fears.

NOTE: The "Emoticons: Sleeping face" image is by nicubunu and is available from

Oh What A (Long) Night!

nicubunu_Emoticons_Sleeping_faceElection night was a very long night both for good reasons and bad ones.  First, I got home from work and B, the boys, and I went out to vote.  Unlike some other places where people had to wait in line for hours, we were lucky.  There was only a short wait to vote.

As we were going to the polling place, and all through the voting procedure, though, JSL complained about his head hurting him.  We figured he might be hungry, but as we arrived home, he proved us wrong by puking all over the floor and his coat.

I cleaned up the mess while B tossed his coat in the wash.  Then, after dinner and some time working on Lego Shelob, we got the kids ready for bed.  Just as they were settling down, though, JSL complained that his stomach hurt.  A quick run to the bathroom spared us a second big mess.  It was obvious that he was going to miss school the next day.

While JSL settled on the couch, we turned on the election day coverage.  I kept following along and interacting with people on Twitter as polls began to close and projections were made.  Slowly, the electoral votes were assigned until, at around 11:20pm, Barack Obama was declared the winner.  In hindsight, that’s when I should have called it a night.  Instead, I followed along awhile longer.  And by "awhile", I mean 2 hours.

At 1am, I climbed into bed (made crowded by JSL’s presence between B and me).  I didn’t sleep long, though.  At around 2am, NHL woke up coughing and congested.  He was obviously having trouble settling and couldn’t come into our packed bed, so I climbed into his top bunk to lay down with him.  Thus began 4 hours attempting to soothe him so he could rest and sporadic sleep.

Needless to say, I’ve been feeling a bit tired today.

What do you do when you’ve had a long night with little sleep?

Disclaimer: The "Sleeping face" icon is by nicubunu and is available from

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