Sunday, May 22, 2011

No Napping on My Watch!

Tuesday of this week will be the day for my annual trip to the "sleep lab" for the crazy Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT).

If you haven't read about this crazy test in the past (and don't feel like reading it now), I'll give you the short version.

The test is designed to see if you can stay awake in conditions that you would normally set up if you were trying to go to sleep.  They wire you up so that they can monitor your brainwaves and know if you are sleeping...even for just seconds.  Then they have you get into a reclined hospital bed, turn out the lights, tell you not to move around too much and expect you to stay awake ... for FORTY minutes!  This test is repeated three times in an eight hour period.  Between tests, you can do pretty much anything you want to do--except sleep.

During the day, you get no caffeine or other stimulants and have to take a blood test that screens for such stimulants.  According to the test standards, three consecutive thirty second periods of sleep is a fail.  According to our non-expert flight surgeon, any sleep period is a fail. But like I said, he is a non-expert in the field.

My favorite line from the above article is this:

  "Results show that from 40% to 59% of people with normal sleep stay awake for the entire 40 minutes of all four trials."

Are you kidding me? Doesn't that mean that 41% to 60% of people with normal sleep don't stay awake for the entire 40 minutes of all four trials?  It doesn't make any sense to me that you would choose to use a test that half of the people with normal sleep habits would fail to determine if I'm getting enough restful sleep with the CPAP treatment for sleep apnea. 

The regional flight surgeon could take a letter from my sleep doctor (the expert in the field) and accompanying medical records to show that my sleep apnea is being effectively treated and forgo the MWT.  However, it seems to be his mission in life to keep air traffic controllers from being able to do their jobs or, at the very least, being as big of a pain in the butt as he can possibly be.  The test will cost me a day of leave and my deductible and co-pay from my insurance. It will cost my insurance company around $1000.  Fortunately, this will be the last one that I have to pass. I could continue to work for awhile should I desire to and be able to keep my medical certification. However, this year's physical will take me to my retirement eligibility date.

I hope to get a good night's sleep tonight and tomorrow night and be very well rested for Tuesday.  I'll be on Facebook in between test times and counting on my friends to help me out as you have in the past.

Sleep well, my friends. 

John <><


Anonymous said...

Good luck John. Are you allowed to put clothespins on your toes? It might help.


John said...

Thanks, Ruth.

I don't know about clothes pins on my toes, but I do put a push pin tack under my leg so that if I relax, it will stick me!

fiona said...

Peas under the mattress! Can't recall the significance but if it's good enough for a