When I arrive in the suite, I have a déjà vu moment. I had been in this waiting room before. It was a multi-specialty suite and my husband had his vasectomy in this very office 4 years ago. I guess if he can get snipped here then I can get my lungs evaluated in here too.
I texted my husband that I had made it there but was starting to feel panicky and he texted me the phrase he always uses to help calm me down.
“Just breathe.” Because, after all, that is what I was here to do….breathe.
The technician came to get me and brought me into the testing room. What I see first in there is a vertical glass coffin with a swivel chair and a tail pipe inside. He tells me to sit inside and slips a heart rate monitor on my finger. My heart rate reads 130 bmp and he takes it off and tells me close my eyes and take some deep breaths. He explains the testing procedure, that he will close the door but that I’ll only be in there less than five minutes…also making sure to let me know the door does not lock. Once inside I would hear his instructions via intercom. The technician handed me a plastic nose plug which is a cross between a swimming nose plug and a clothespin. He shows me how to put my mouth on the tail pipe and reminds me not to break the seal with my lips. Not realizing that this story is going to be great to tell my coworkers in the morning , what I am thinking at that moment is WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING HERE?
I almost start crying.
Instead I close my eyes and tell myself….you are doing this!!
And I did, and it was okay. The tech let me out of the coffin and we filled out some questions…back to the waiting room I went until the Doctor was ready to see me.
I am looking around and thinking that I must have been crazy to sign myself up for this shit. I am committing to a lifestyle to include regular trips to the hospital. But like so many others in varying degrees I am fighting a disease (obesity) and I am doing what any mom who loves her family does when faced with a medical condition they can’t handle on their own.
Yes, this is why I’m here.
The doctor calls me in and he is Hispanic and handsome. I notice his first name is Jaime and I wonder if he goes by “hiy-mey,” but I don’t ask him. The doctor asks me if I know why I’m there and I say, “Because it’s required?” He scoffs at this but his smile is kind and his eyes are warm. He tells me that 80% of bariatric patients suffer from some level of pulmonary dysfunction or sleep apnea and that if I want to get the best bang for my buck with my surgery, getting my sleep apnea under control (if I have it) goes hand in hand. That metabolism and weight management is directly affected by lung function. He says my lungs look terrific and he can tell I’m a non-smoker. (Hi-five!) He also says he can also see that my lungs are a little squeezed in there because of my weight.
I have to do the sleep study. Ugh. I admitted that I both snore and stop breathing in my sleep (which is only an observation from my husband since who would know if they did either of those things?? If you lived alone who would be responsible for this information, your goddamned dog?).
I zip up my soccer mom sweatshirt and get back to my car. I exhale and let a tear run down my face and I call my husband’s office praying he is actually sitting there to answer.
“It was scary, but I did it,” I say.
I am doing this.