Mondays–V4E2–Sleep Study, I Hope I Pass

After my first ablation in January 2020, I was scheduled for a sleep study the following March because Atrial Fibrillation is sometimes caused by Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The pandemic rolled around and the sleep study was canceled. When they finally started doing elective procedures again, I decided I didn’t want to do it. Truth be told, I didn’t want to do it when I originally scheduled it. The idea of being plugged into machines with wires on my head and chest and legs and someone watching me sleep and someone I have to ask “please, come unhook me so I can go to the bathroom” just kind of freaks me out.

Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing repeatedly pauses while you sleep. When this happens, your body wakes you up to resume breathing. These multiple sleep interruptions prevent you from sleeping well, leaving you feeling extra tired during the day.

Sleep apnea does more than make you sleepy, though. When left untreated, it can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and other long-term health risks. (

Ten years ago, after four of my teeth had broken off at the gumline (luckily, not all at once)’ the dentist told me that she believed that my nighttime jaw clenching was causing stress on some of my old root-canaled teeth. She explained that root-canaled teeth because they don’t have roots with a blood supply, often become brittle and my nighttime clenching was causing them to fracture. She provided me with a “night guard” mouth appliance I wear over my front upper teeth at night.

What my guard used to look like when it wasn’t yellowed and plague encrusted

This guard keeps my upper and lower teeth from meeting and even though it does nothing to stop me from clenching my jaws, I’m not putting any additional stress on my teeth. I’ve worn that night guard almost every night for the last ten years. Needless to say, it’s becoming rather gross and I decided it was time to replace it and oh how sexy it is, about as sexy as a CPAP machine.

I went back to the same dentist that made the first one. She said she’d love to make me a new one, but “have you had a sleep study done for sleep apnea?” Ah, no. Turns out she couldn’t make me a new one without having a sleep test to rule out sleep apnea first.  I guess someone or someones who had worn my type of appliance had sleep apnea and swallowed it or choked on it or something so, no test, no appliance. Talk about a bummer.

It just so happened I had a  follow-up appointment with my Electrophysiologist coming up. When I told him I wanted to do the sleep study, he was more than willing (since I’d ignored this test three years ago) to write me another referral to the Pulmonologist. Trouble is, I didn’t particularly like the doctor that I had seen before. When I called the office, I requested to see a different doctor in the practice. I was told one doctor doesn’t normally see another doctor’s patients; they don’t like to “step on someone’s toes”.  I finally had to come right out and tell the receptionist that I didn’t want to see that doctor. She relented and made me an appointment with the other doctor. And oh my! What a difference that made.

I saw this doctor yesterday and I loved her! It makes such a huge difference if you have a good relationship with a doctor. She laughed with me and took time to explain things to me and she didn’t begin the appointment by telling me everything I do wrong in my nighttime routine. She explained that sleep apnea was caused by the lower jaw dropping back and cutting off the oxygen supply. She put me completely at ease and even wrote me a prescription for Ambien to take the night of the test. What a relief!

Stay tuned for more of this exciting adventure!

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