xi. My diagnosis!

27 November 2005 at 04:22 | Posted in Circadian rhythm | 7 Comments
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 (No, this isn’t my sleep specialist, but he does look like him :-))

Through a 15 year period, my present doctor had tested me for thyroid etc., sent me to a neurologist for overnight sleep analysis with all the attached equipment, sent me to a series of time-consuming and useless psychologists, had my throat operated (probably unnecessarily) for apnea and put me on a pill for depression.
Finally, he said he wanted to send me to a specialist to see if the depression diagnosis was correct.  The specialist he chose is a professor of psychiatry and the co-founder of a sleep clinic where he works one afternoon and evening a week.  I feared, and fully expected, a new and expensive round of psychologist-type time-wasting.
Dr. Holsten asked the many questions you’d expect to get from any new doctor:  health, job, living arrangements.  A great many questions, very quickly.  I should have taped the interview so I could analyze at what point it dawned on me that these aren’t questions to just any and every patient — this guy is circling me in!  He asked unexpectedly about several things which applied to me, but which I’d never connected to sleep problems.  It was rather exhilarating, like the experience some people rave about after having their fortunes told.
Unlike most doctors today he wasn’t staring at a computer screen, but he wasn’t looking at me either.  He was placing dots on a tiny grid about 8×10 cm.  Suddenly he looked up and said “You have DSPS!”  Of which I’d never heard.  He drew curves showing the timing of normal sleep related to body temperature, said he’d have my regular doctor put me on 100% sick leave for two months, gave me a sleep diary form to fill out every day, wrote the application and prescription for melatonin, arranged for me to borrow a light box, gave instructions (NO naps!), said it wouldn’t hurt to keep taking the depression medication and made an appointment for the first follow-up three weeks later.  I was out of there within 30 minutes with my head swimming.
Next post:  xii. Circadian rhythm disorders


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  1. Hi there!

    I got a link to your blog from Circadiana. I was diagnosed with DSPS about 5 years ago after many, many years of trying to figure out why I couldn’t sleep at night.

    The treatment that I’ve been using (30m light box in the morning, lowered lights 1.5 hours before bed, .5 mg melatonin ~5 hours before bed) has worked really well for me. It can be hard to keep up, though, and I’ve only been using it for a couple of months.

    Anyway, I have some understanding of the relief you must be feeling at finding a diagnosis that fits you. Good luck with it all!


  2. Thanks for writing, Michelle. I don’t know which helps more, knowledge about the dang thing or learning that one is not alone with it. Best of luck to you, too! –nbm

  3. Thank you so much for this blog. I am sitting here CRYING because I’m being offered a new job, and they want me there everyday by 9:30 a.m. I want the job. My current boss is just sooooo pissed off at me because I won’t get in by 10. I’ve been this way my whole life. Have tried drugs, modifying schedule, praying… seriously! A neurologist offered to write a letter to any employer saying, “there’s nothing wrong with her except her sleep schedule is different. Let her work from 12 noon to 8, and you’ll see she’s actually quite personable during the right hours.” (LOL. ANYWAY… sorry for the long comment. Just am so relieved to hear from others with the same issue.

  4. Quite personable! That’s a good one. Thanks for the comment – no worry about the length! I write this thing for myself, but I’m sooo pleased if/when it helps someone. Get on a support group (niteowl, yahoo), it really helps to not be alone. Good luck!

  5. Thanks for the response. Your owl picture is very cute. Here I am again at 1:40 and not even sleepy. I can’t find the support group you mentioned. Do you have a link? Is it a yahoogroup?

  6. Yes and no. Quote from circadiandisorders.org:
    If you would like to receive the e-mail list directly in your mailbox, please subscribe by going to http://circadiandisorders.org/list and filling out the subscription form there.
    If you would prefer to read the list on the web instead, you may do that by joining the list via Yahoo Groups, at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nite-owl. Then you can read the online list archive. However, you won’t be able to post unless you join the list at circadiandisorders.org.

  7. Wonder if any of my 10-year-old commenters is still around?
    Michelle C: Just want to say that I should have listened to you!! It took me years to learn all those tips and the reasons for them. You/your doctor/ was waaay ahead of your/her/his/ time compared to many others.
    Molly P and others: In addition to the niteowl mailing list, there are now some very helpful Facebook groups. Search on “niteowl” and “DSPS” to find two of them.
    In addition, I’ll mention the not-for-profit organization established in 2011: http://www.CircadianSleepDisorders.org
    There is lots of info there and everyone, also internationally, is welcome to join.
    Hope everyone is doing well!

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