My Mother’s Sleep Apnea

Tired young businesswoman falling asleep behind the deskToday, Kelley C. shares the story of her mother’s sleep apnea. We were touched by this inspiring experience, and Kelley earned one of our six scholarship awards. We hope you enjoy and appreciate it as much as we did.

My father and I used to laugh when my mother started snoring a few years ago. Her snoring was so loud, you could hear it in the other end of the house. Sometimes she would doze off in the living room while reading or watching TV, and she would snort and snore in her sleep. My friends and I would giggle and even record her on video. We all got a big laugh out of it.

But my mother’s snoring grew worse. It was often so bad, that my father had to sleep on the living room couch because of the racket she made. Her snoring would wake me as well, even though I was a room away behind a closed door. Then my father began to notice that my mother would stop breathing on and off during the night—sometimes for a full minute or more. He would wake her up, she would go back to sleep, and the cycle would repeat—snoring, no breathing, snoring.

In spite of the sleep she got, my mother was always tired, irritable, and she could not concentrate or function efficiently. She had trouble remembering things, she nodded off at work, and her memory became terrible. One day, while driving me to school, my mother nearly ran a read light; I screamed, she stopped in time, and then she began to cry. This was getting serious. Her snoring wasn’t funny at all any more.

My mother finally went to the doctor, who prescribed an exam at a sleep disorder facility. She was connected to a CPAP machine that, whenever her breathing stopped, would gently force oxygen into her through a breathing mask worn over her mouth. Her sleep and breathing were monitored throughout the night by a medical technician. The next day, she was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea.

My father and I did not realize that sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that can
result in sleep deprivation, depression, contribute toward the advance of
diabetes, and even cause stroke in extreme cases. Now, she has a CPAP machine that allows her to receive enough oxygen when she sleeps at night. Her physical and mental conditions have improved 100% thanks to this device. I would have never thought a simple symptom like snoring would indicate such a potential threat. My dad and I are grateful that my mother addressed her sleep apnea before it became worse, and we are grateful for the CPAP machine.

I had never heard of sleep apnea before my mother’s condition was diagnosed. I talk to people about this when the subject of sleeplessness comes up. More people should be made aware of this potentially dangerous disorder, and I make a point to spread the word about it. Additionally, I hope to help others from suffering from sleep apnea by sharing my mother’s experience, and how early detection and treatment are crucial.

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