Medicine or Hype
There is unfortunately a faddish aspect to medicine. I first became aware of this in the 70s when almost every female friend I knew suddenly suffered from hypoglycemia. In the 80s they all had fibromyalgia, and in the 90s they all became gluten intolerant. Today, they all have sleep apnea. I know these are real ailments that people suffer from, but it seems odd to me that suddenly everyone has the same thing.
My doctor suspects I have a sleep disorder and sends me to a sleep clinic. It is pitch black the night I arrive at the facility. The only clue I have that I am in the right place is a lighted sign near the street. As I drive through the parking lot, I see a dimly lit interior before me. I park my car and thread my way in the dark around jutting curbs and plantings. There is a lighted doorbell, and I inform the person answering that I am here for my appointment. She replies that it is too early and I will have to wait for my appointment time. Through the glass doors I can see a dimly lit lobby with numerous chairs. I ask her if I can sit in the lobby until my appointment time, but she replies that is impossible and I will have to return later. She tells me to read the sign on the door, but I tell her it is too dark to see the sign. She says “Sorry,” and clicks off. I make my way back to the car, and in about 10 minutes, someone switches on the lights at the facility. They illuminate the front of the building, but the parking lot remains in the dark.
A short time later, other cars begin to arrive and customers/patients congregate outside the building. When I see them, I feel immediately unprepared as they all have their arms full of pillows, blankets and afghans. Two have stuffed animals. I have been to hospitals before, but I was never instructed to bring my own linens. I look down at my bag which contains a pair of pajamas, a robe and a toothbrush. I glance once more at the stuffed animals in the hands of thirty year olds. These people are too old to be snowflakes. Raindrops perhaps? Whatever, I would not want to depend on them in a crisis.
A woman appears, opens the door and stands aside to let in the customers/patients. As I make my way to the front, the woman blocks my entrance. “You have to ring the doorbell,” she says. I told her I had checked in earlier when I first arrived. “You have to ring it again,” she replies. I do so and she steps aside to let me in.
I am totally unprepared for what I see. This is a place with an identity crisis. It cannot decide if it is a medical facility or a resort. I pass several small rooms, all furnished exquisitely alike with king size beds with pouffy comforters and pillow shams. One glance tells me this bedding cannot be thrown into a washing machine. Whatever priorities this facility has, hygiene is not one of them. I wonder why such small rooms are furnished with king sized beds. Are spouses allowed to spend the night, and if so, how does that enhance the study? I am relieved to see that the beds have pillows, sheets and blankets and I was not required to bring my own.
After I have changed into my pajamas, a technician arrives and attaches dozens of sensors to my head and body. A friend informed me that no one who shows up ever fails to have a diagnosis of sleep apnea. I await the results but I already know the answer. I suspect the stuffed animals will have the same diagnosis.