Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sleep Troubles and Brian's Surgery

I was a very wise wife to not encourage Brian to get the surgery until all the babies were mostly done  with middle of the night wake up stuff. I have tried for at least ten years to get him to have his sleep troubles checked out by a doctor. About two years ago while pregnant with Ashlyn I decided to lay off. If he didn't care enough to go then I was going to capitalize on his night time awareness just one last time with this baby coming along in a few months.

I didn't mention going to a doctor for about a year and a half. Score. He helped with Ashlyn just like all three other kids. I did all the feedings but he did most of the middle of the night baby rocking for a few reasons. First because he's awesome and a totally involved dad. Second he can sleep perfectly well sitting up in a soft rocking chair (or couch or floor or kitchen chair) because he gets such bad sleep he's is exhausted. Third he can fall asleep within two minutes no matter where he is, what time of day it is or what is going on around him, it is seriously just like flipping a light switch. This is not good in business meetings, driving or at church when your wife is going nuts with four rowdy kids.

With the impending move to Saudi Arabia always on my mind I realized that I ought to start pressuring him again because it isn't something he can do while living in Saudi Arabia. Moving without doing anything would only guarantee another three plus years of bad sleep and physical exhaustion. I also wanted to check out LASIK for myself and get a final answer once and for all so I could either do it or let it go forever. (Doc says no on LASIK by the way.)

I got an appointment for a LASIK assessment and asked Brian to come along because I didn't want to make big health and big money decisions without his buy in. He arranged to go in to work late one Friday so he could join me. That week I went to yoga on Thursday morning and yet another friend had had the nasal surgery and couldn't say enough about how it had changed her life. She had energy, she slept well, she could breath. We talked a long time after yoga and she sent me the doctors phone number. I called Brian at work right away. The ENT doctor was in the same building as my LASIK appointment just three floors away. I asked if I could arrange an appointment for the same time as mine and if he didn't have to take any extra time off work would he be willing to see the doctor. He agreed, though there seemed to be a little reluctance in his voice still. I was pretty sure he only agreed to get me to shut up. I uttered a quick prayer that they could squeeze him in and called the doctors office and that started the ball rolling. Twenty four hours later we had a diagnosis of how to spend half of all our money. He did the overnight sleep study that night and at our Saturday morning consult we found out how to spend the rest of our money. So thankful we have insurance to reimburse us!

The ENT scope and sleep study revealed a bunch of things. He had a deviated septum shaped more like an S than the straight line it should have been, his uvula was so long that it rested on his tongue (explaining the feeling he said he always has that something is stuck on the back of his throat and he can't get it off), enlarged tonsils, enlarged adenoids and a few other things. The sleep study revealed that he wakes up 97 times during the night because he stops breathing. Scary. The doctor said he would fix seven things while he was under general anesthesia.

Because he couldn't take work off during plant start up he waited about a month before scheduling his surgery. He had all the work done on Monday December 23. It made for a very toned down Christmas break for sure. No trips. No awesome food. No anything wild or crazy away from the house. The procedure was outpatient. Checked in the hospital at about 8am and left around 4pm. Surgery took just about an hour and I did not like seeing him come out of the anesthesia. He was so weak and disoriented, it made me tear up to see him like that. He had his uvula taken out, tonsils lasered, nose straightened, the back of his mouth sliced and stitched open to expand the opening and a few other things.  

About the time he was ready to check out to go home the nurse asked us, two white people with American accents, "Don't you celebrate Christmas?" We replied in the affirmative. "Then why did you do this NOW? You will have a bad Christmas." We had to laugh and explain it was very unfortunate timing but that he had to work before now and that in three weeks he was moving to Saudi Arabia. Not much window of opportunity for it to happen. 

The recovery has been, from the observers perspective, not so terrible. But it hasn't been fun either. I suppose it is basically what we expected. A very, very sore throat. Tired body, foggy head and blocked sinus. He has to do salt water flushes many many many times every day in both nostrils to clean out everything. Then it drips back out unexpectedly which understandably makes him nuts. We now think there must be secret pockets in all our heads that hold stuff like that. He has had nothing but very soft soups for two weeks and one more to go before he can try real food again. Swallowing has been terrible so eating has been no fun at all. About day eight I could see that his usual happy self had worn down. He just looked so depressed. He felt plain rotten and there was nothing he could do about it. Now, at fourteen days later he is back at work again and seems to be mostly back to his old self.

In the end, the up side is that in just two weeks he sleeps through EVERYTHING now. I have been up with Ashlyn many nights in the last week. He did get up tonight with Ashlyn but it does appear that his good sleeping means I'm on night duty solo from here on out. So glad he was an insomniac for the first 15 years of marriage and more importantly the first 9.5 years we had kids. He did a lot of crying kiddie nights for me. 

Now it's my turn to wake up and on this particular night I can't fall back to sleep after Ashlyn has been asleep for hours now. That's the main reason it was so nice having Brian do nights. If I wake up after four hours sleep I can't get my body to go back to sleep. Ashlyn woke up at 1:30am tonight. Screamed until 2:30 (after Brian finally got her breakfast downstairs). At 3:00 I caved and got on Facebook because I couldn't sleep. Now it's after 4am. It's gonna be a long day with 4 kids on winter break today with a very tired mama. The good news is after 3 hours awake I can usually fall asleep again. So I will try to count 9.5 years of sleep blessings and be grateful for the surgery that has hopefully helped Brian finally see what it means to have a good nights sleep like the rest of us in the world get.

1 comment:

Anne Zufelt said...

Thank you for sharing the whole story. It was fun to know all that has been happening since the surgery. I am so glad he has that behind him now. You can still wake him up and have him take a turn with the kids. Know he will be able to go back to sleep much faster than you will.