a woman and her doctor looking at a board about her health conditions, including insomnia

Seeing a Sleep Specialist for My Insomnia: Part 1

While I have lived with a chronic condition that left me with medical post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the age of 13, I was able to pinpoint the reason behind my insomnia up until my early 20’s. To me, it helped me mentally to know the reason why I was having trouble sleeping.

But when I couldn’t understand why I would be so tired yet unable to fall asleep or stay asleep for more than a few hours at a time, I decided to see my first sleep specialist.

Finding a doctor who "gets it"

To be honest, I hoped this doctor would order a sleep study for me. I had a feeling my brain waves had been altered due to my PTSD. I also had been on and off all different types of medications for years which made me wonder if something changed in my brain.

After seeing this doctor, I really felt like he understood me, which was huge. As a person who lives with multiple chronic illnesses and has a long surgical history, it was always difficult for me to find someone who I felt “got it.”

And for those of you who live with any type of health condition, you know just how relieved you feel when you meet a medical professional who understands you and your situation.

Our different opinions about a sleep study

The one thing I didn’t love but understood rationally was that he didn’t feel like I was a candidate for a sleep study. He told me insurance didn’t cover it for patients with insomnia. Apparently, sleep studies are more when you suspect sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, etc...

When I asked him if he could try to get it approved his response was a very sincere “I don’t believe you will fall asleep here if you have trouble at home.”

Searching for a root cause

While his response was what I always assumed, I hoped that there was something they could do for patients like me. I knew I wasn’t the only one who suffered from such severe insomnia who wanted to see if there was a root cause. I felt like I was just throwing medications at the problem with the hope that one would work.

And while that would have been totally fine if I found something that consistently helped me with no side effects, I have yet to find that magic pill. So, I was hopeful that they could sedate me enough that I could do a sleep study and get some deeper insight into how my brain worked.

Taking matters into my own hands

I continued to see this doctor for a number of years and while it was good to have him in my corner (did I mention he understood me when it’s rare for me to find an MD who did?), I eventually decided I couldn’t go on like this anymore.

I then made an appointment at a sleep clinic at the hospital where I am treated for my other medical conditions. It was over an hour's drive each way, which was difficult for me, but I knew I needed to see if they could help me.

Check out Part 2, where I share my experiences.

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