Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Circadian Rhythm Disorder

I met with the sleep disorder specialist/neurologist. This was in downtown Sacramento in the same building my old endo is in, which meant a long ride with lots of traffic and that stupid valet parking. He’s on the fourth floor while Doc O was on the third floor. Got to go back to this same place two more times this year… to see him in November, and then the cardiology department up on the sixth floor for my stress test in December. I have so many appointments! Just so, so many. I just cracked my 50s and all the appointments sometimes drive me batty. How am I going to handle getting old? I wonder. This month alone I have four appointments. Next up in two days is my dentist. She’s my second favorite doc, runner-up to S. Really sweet person. So is her staff.

Dr. S seems like a nice guy, and he’s from here, which helps me to understand him better when he speaks. The foreign doctor with the funky accent routine gets old.

I had filled out a medical history form about my sleep habits, and he did a series of tests besides the usual things like listening to my heart. He had me stare straight at him and then he would hold up a set number of fingers toward his left or right, up or down, and ask how many fingers he was holding up. Then I had to touch his fingertip and then my nose, and a strength test of my arms and legs by having me push and pull against his arms.

He looked in my mouth and explained what it was he saw that made the dentist ask if I had sleep apnea. Well, I don’t officially have it, which is good, but because it’s a bit “crowded” in my mouth/throat, there is a risk. He explained that usually there’s space above the tongue, but I guess there isn’t in my case. He measured my neck too, which can also be a factor in sleep apnea. You don’t want to be over 18 inches if you’re a man or 16 inches if you’re a woman. I’m at 14 inches.

What I definitely do have is circadian rhythm disorder. I struggled with this most of my adult life, but I kept it secret for the most part because it wasn’t a known and understood problem that was documented in the medical journal before 1999, and I knew that most people would just tell me I was “lazy” or “stubborn” and “didn’t really want to keep a schedule,” so I never bothered to explain it to most people. Even now, as much as sleep knowledge/medicine has advanced, I don’t think many people would get it just like many people don’t get things like anxiety, depression or anorexia unless they have it themselves. Well, let me set the record straight… the anxious can’t always just “calm down,” the depressed can’t always just “smile,” anorexics can’t always “see” how thin they really are, and I can’t just “pick a time to get up, set my alarm, and get up when it goes off.”

He said medication is always a last resort, and that’s a good thing with my fear of medication. Because I’m already in my 50s, while I would like to be able to be helped in order to keep the schedule, it won’t be the end of the world if I can’t be. I have a husband who loves me enough to support me despite my shortcomings, and while it may be a pain in the ass to live with, I’m content to keep on taking care of the house and my job as a writer and software tester. If it doesn’t require a schedule and you want to pay me to do something within my means… Bring it on. I’ll be more than happy to do it.

But maybe he can help me keep a schedule for longer periods of time. Just like S didn’t make my anxiety go away but taught me how to manage it better, maybe it doesn’t have to be so all or nothing with the sleep issues.

Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do. He gave me a four-week sleep journal in which I’m supposed to document the times I went to bed and got up, how long it took me to fall asleep, how many times I woke up, what woke me up, how long I slept, my caffeine intake, exercise, medication, and if I ate close to bedtime.

I’ve got a good head start in that I only have one medication I take regularly and one cup of coffee after I’ve been up for a half hour and my thyroid meds have absorbed (no caffeine will be allowed on stress test day). I also exercise 20 minutes or more most days, and I try to make a point of not eating much too close to whenever I’m going to fall asleep because it raises my risk of heartburn.

Another thing I’m going to be doing is gathering my Fitbit information for him.

He also gave me some information from Medscape to go over.

Saturday we’re both going to the eye doctor, then next month is ENT month. Like I said, it never ends.

After leaving Sacramento we stopped at the Panda Express. I was hesitant to do so because the last time I ate there in the 90s in a mall in Phoenix, I hated it. But I was starving and there wasn’t anything else around. It was surprisingly good, though. The fried rice was boring, but the steak and veggies were good, and the honey walnut shrimp was excellent.

After lunch it was off to get my hair re-layered and trimmed. She took off about half an inch. I can keep on dying it if getting it trimmed every six months will help keep it from looking so shabby. If not, then I guess I’ll have to have either long gray hair or dyed hair that I keep shoulder length.

We picked up our meds at Wal-Mart and then gathered some findings in the jewelry section. We got jump rings and split rings, but the splits are hard to work with. Got to get more jump rings. Tom did manage to “magnetize” a couple of necklaces for me. :-)

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