Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Medical Reasoning:
Insight into the Mind of the Physician

The New York Times today has an article about sleep apnea.  It actually is an article written by a journalist, detailing the problem he had with hypersomnia, and his experience getting a clinic polysomnogram (sleep study.) 

Published: July 27, 2004

I haven't slept well for years.  If I set an alarm for 6:30 a.m., my eyes open at 5, and I try to doze to the radio. I drink four cups of coffee a day. I don't think I have ever fallen asleep at the wheel, but I often pull over nodding off.

Cripes, man, if you have to pull over because you are drowsy, you need to see a sleep specialist, like Right Now!

I used to work nights, which first threw my rhythm off. But I liked having days with my daughters and not being a creature of habit, perhaps because my father, who slept nine hours a night, was someone you could set a clock by.

Lately, though, it had gotten ridiculous. So when the new sleep lab at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn offered to let me bring my pillow over for a test snooze, I jumped. [...]

In the remainder of the article, he discusses the seriousness of the problem of obstructive sleep apnea, and tells what he went through to get the diagnosis.  He promises to tell about the treatment in a future article.  In my opinion, he should have emphasized the dangerousness of driving while drowsy, but then, he's not a public health specialist. 

I've written about sleep disorders here before, at the Corpus Callosum, often to illustrate points about physiology or medical theory.  Use the search function in the sidebar if your are interested.  Today, I'll use the opportunity to show a connection between sleep disorders and post-stroke mortality, and make a point about interpretation of medical literature.  Read the rest at The Rest of the Story.