Monthly Archives: February 2016

Grandma stopped breathing over 100 times in her sleep

Stevie B.

For most, sleep is a treasured bliss that is irreplaceable. For my Grandmother though, to go to sleep was to take her life into her hands. While some invest in luxury pillows, 800-count sheets and expensive mattresses to enhance their nightly resting, my Grandmother was forced to invest in surgery. This is how sleep apnea had a tremendous effect on her health and lifestyle.

When my grandmother married her husband, she was unaware of the importance he would serve her later down the road. She had always been a snorer, as well as her mother, but later in her life it began to become a larger issue. One night, my Grandfather noticed her snoring stop in the middle of the night. He checked on her and realized she was not breathing. In a panic, he punched her chest, relieving the obstruction of her breathing.

My Grandfather continued to do this a few times a night and it became a sort of routine. However, when he died early in his life at 59, my Grandmother was terrified to sleep alone. Temporarily, she moved in with her daughter (my mother) to feel more safe in her slumber. Yet, she knew she would need help beyond that.

When she finally went to the doctor, she was observed overnight. Turns out, she stopped breathing over 100 times in her sleep. This information for the scary truth for my Grandmother and she was eager for answers.

The doctor told her that she would need surgery to open up her throat and let her breath better. Before the surgery could be performed though, the doctor advised her to sew a tennis ball to the back of her pajama shirt. This would help open her airways so she could go through the night more safely. This non-traditional guidance helped my Grandmother survive the night before the incision. The surgery went smooth and she recovered easily. She was very lucky to regain her strength back so easily and return to her normal sleeping habits.

My Grandmother never used a CPAP machine. This technology was new when she was being diagnosed. When she finally went to the doctor, he did not bother to prescribe her the machine and decided to go straight into surgery as soon as possible. However, her current doctor is aware that if she ever had issues again, CPAP is a very reliable option.

I am so blessed to know this information about my Grandmother. It makes me realize how blessed she was to live with sleep apnea and survive despite never going to the doctor. I am more conscious of my body’s habits because of the knowledge of my Grandmother’s sleep disorder. I want to know more about my sleep habits because I believe that the these little things contribute overall to my health and well being.

Our generation has a tremendous advantage over the past ones. Not only have we done more research on sleep apnea but we also have more options on surgery and therapy to recover. CPAP is also much more stable and safe than sewing a tennis ball to your pajamas! It amazes me that my Grandmother even survived so long with this disorder.

Information can save someones life. When my mother witnessed all of this happen to her own mother, her involvement in her health skyrocketed. She joined a gym, quit smoking, did not drink or take medicine before bed and invested in a pillow that keeps her neck more raised (allowing easier air-flow). When I was born, she informed me of my Grandmother’s past health. It was shocking news, but without me knowing, I would be more careless about my health.

I am aware that not much can prevent sleep apnea. Without knowing anything about this disorder though, I would be at a higher risk. I have made the decision to never become a smoker and to keep my weight in check. These two things will not only help prevent me from getting a sleep disorder, but will save me from other health issues as well. It is very important to stay verbal with your health. When you are held accountable, not only are you more obligated to hold to your word, but it helps the other person as well. If we all talk about our health issues, we can influence others to be more aware of their bodies and well being. This is the first step to preventing illness; dealing with sleep or not.

To say I am thankful that my Grandmother to have had this issue would be false. Yet, I am glad that something beneficial came from it. Our family is very active and mindful to what we consume. It has influenced me to be much more interested in health. I want to become a Physical Therapist one day so that I can help people recovering from throat surgery to relieve their apnea. Just as my Grandmother recovered from her surgery in 1992, I will help others rehabilitate from theirs as well. As I see it, her suffering led to the recovery of many others, through my actions one day. That truly is magical.

Your CPAP – Don’t Leave Home Without It

By: Amy G

I woke to the sound of a fog horn. Still drowsy, I wondered if I was still vacationing at a beach house on the coast. Reality set in as I sat up in bed – that trip ended several days ago – yet the strange noise remained, seeming to vibrate the walls. The alarming sound grew louder as I walked into our kitchen. My mom was already up, also awakened by the roar.

“Your Uncle Michael got here around 1am,” mom explained. Ah…. the pulsating walls made sense now, marking my uncle’s annual visit. My uncle suffered from sleep apnea, or as he liked to call it “roaring snoring.” I’d almost forgotten Uncle Michael had this illness. He’d driven down to visit us last year, bringing his CPAP equipment with him. Instead of explosive snores, I’d heard gentle swishing sounds during last his stay.

Without his CPAP, Uncle Michael was noticeably different. All week long, he was tired and sometimes even cranky. His inability to get much sleep stopped us from going to the theme parks we’d planned on visiting. We ended up cooking at home instead of dining at our favorite restaurants, because my uncle’s diabetes was not in check either. His blood pressure was also higher than usual. My five year old cousin came for a sleep over the next evening, but she had to be taken home crying in the middle of the night. Uncle Michael’s loud, out of control snoring outbursts frightened her. After a few nights lying awake in bed. listening to Uncle Michael’s breathing struggles, we all felt like zombies. Sleep apnea takes the quality of life away from everyone trying to rest under the same roof with the affected person.

A CPAP machine is definitely allowed on airplanes. You can even bring it on the plane with you, if you’re the type who worries about losing your luggage. My uncle thought he’d be hassled about it by airport security guards – but this is a piece of medical equipment, just like a wheelchair. Uncle Michael shortchanged himself.

I really wish Uncle Michael brought his CPAP. He ended up leaving 2 days early, recognizing the urgency to breathe easier with his CPAP machine. Instead of returning home relaxed and well-rested, he ended up getting off the airplane sleep-deprived and exhausted. We all felt cheated out of what could have been a wonderful vacation, filled with family bonding. Uncle Michael promised to put his health first, by bringing his CPAP on all future trips to our house. Every night for almost a week, my ears were opened to the racket of Uncle Michael’s fitful breathing. This experience opened my mind as well, with an awareness of how serious sleep apnea is when not treated. I love my uncle, and hope he won’t neglect his health like this again.

How Does Santa Claus Deal with His Sleep Disorder?

By Van V,

I am Santa Claus who brings gifts to good children for Christmas. Recently, I was busy reading letters from children all over the world. I had a hectic time because I had to take care of my reindeers, schedule meetings with the elves, and stay organized with my list to make sure that all good kids receive presents. Sometimes, I did not sleep, so I buried my head into work. I felt satisfied and happy because I bring smiles and happiness to children on Christmas; however, one thing that made me depressed was that I could not sleep well anymore after Christmas.
I remembered the first night after Christmas of doing nothing yet feeling tired. I tried to close my eyes, but they would not close. My mind went blank. I attempted to count sheep since many people claimed it would help; however, I sometimes lost track and would get bored easily of this activity. I listened to soothing music, but it did not help. I decided to read history books which always made me fall asleep when I was in middle school, but reading such dry stories gave me headaches. Sleeping pills were an option for me until they made me drowsy during the day instead of the night. I even walked around the house, went outside, and built about… ten snow men because I was bored. I kept looking at the clock hoping the time would go faster. It was the most boring night I have ever experienced.
The day after, I could not sleep again. I then decided to spend leisure time doing things which I had never done before such as making a Facebook account because I wanted to be trendy. I had millions of followers when I opened a Facebook account because people knew I was Santa Claus. I posted the status: “I cannot sleep. Anyone have a solution?” One of my friends on Facebook told me to see a doctor as soon as possible because it would significantly affect my health. My friend also suggested trying the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) which is a machine that helps keep the airways open by using mild air pressure. I thought I did not sleep well because I am getting older, and eventually, I will get used to it. However, I had to consider his advice because I was getting very cranky due to tiredness, and my memory was getting worse. My “roommate,” Mrs. Claus said I snored very loudly which I never did before.
Mrs. Claus and I both worried about my health, so we decided to see the doctor. Eventually, I was diagnosed with sleep disorder. The doctor said I had sleep disorder because I was under too much stress, did not have enough sleeps, and gained weight too much from eating cookies and drinking milk over Christmas without doing any exercises. Plus, I flew too fast to different areas, so I probably got jet-lag. The doctor also said if my sleep disorder was not treated, it could increase my risk for heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes, etc. He told me to eat healthy food, exercise more often, and use CPAP to help with my loud snoring.
In the end, I then decided to budget my money and spent it on buying a CPAP machine. I did yoga regularly with my wife and ate healthier foods; I did not skip meals anymore. After two weeks, I began to sleep normally. I am very happiness since I do not disrupt my wife anymore at night because of my loud snore anymore. My headaches have vanished, and I feel fresher than I have in ages. Not having a sufficient amount of good sleep is the worst experience I have had in my life. Now, I really appreciate my uninterrupted sleeping time to stay healthy.

My Snoring was Waking People in the House

Andrea P. of Laguna Beach, CA

Having problems with sleep has been a serious issue since I left the war in Albania. As a woman veteran, I was not aware that my PTSD would lead to such sleep problems. As I left the war-ridden country, I was really not able to sleep as well as I did before because of my nightmares. I was always waking up in the middle of the night.
After much research and talking to many doctors, I realized that my PTSD was not helping my sleeping patterns. There were some days that I could sleep really well and others that were not helping me. I found that my sleep did relate to my daily activities. I had to find a way to change what I was doing during the day to make my sleep disorders not so severe.
I realized that eating sugar and caffeine products did not help me sleep better during the night. I was then able to have fewer nights with sleeping problems. I then was able to disengage to technology late at night to help me with my nightmares. As I transformed into more nights of sleep, I still was not able to get the best sleep possible. I realized that the United States Army and war had changed me. I decided to seek some other help to aid in my sleep problems.
I then consulted with a Veterans Affairs doctor that advised me to us the CPAP machine. I at first was very apprehensive to using this funny looking device, but really wanted to get better with my sleeping patterns. The mask fits over your nose and mouth and really looks funny when you are wearing it, but I decided my health was more important then what I looked like at night. There also is this funny tube that connects the mask to the machine’s motor. This motor blows air into the tube to create constant airflow to your body.
Since not enough air was reaching my lungs, I was breathing shallow while sleeping. During this obstructive sleep apnea, your airway collapses or is blocked during sleep. While I was trying to breath, any air that squeezes past the blockage was causing me to snore loud. My snoring was waking people in the house, although I thought it was my nightmares from my PTSD. I knew I had sleeping problems but I did not realize it was sleep apnea. It was hard to diagnosis my problem as being sleep apnea.
According to Abubaker, there are many patients with co existence of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and PTSD. It shows in studies that people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea can have worsening PTSD, but PTSD is not found to be deleterious for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. CPAP treatment has shown fewer nightmares and they sleep better. Patient’s subjective reporting of improvement in PTSD symptoms in those who use CPAP machine will be compared to those who do not use CPAP machine and continued to have PTSD symptoms. This study is currently going on in the Veteran’s Affairs Administration.
As someone that has both PTSD and sleep apnea, I am happy to report that my PTSD symptoms have improved since using the CPAP machine. There are many research studies that are following PTSD and sleep apnea in veterans and soldiers. I am glad to know after doing my research that more is being done for fellow veterans for sleep apnea. I am thankful every day for my blessings and finding the CPAP machine to improve my sleeping problems.
Abubaker, R., Thandi, P., & Abstracts of the 22nd European Congress of Psychiatry. (January 01, 2014). EPA-0113 – Cpap treatment compliance in combat veternas with obstructive sleep apnea and ptsd and how it affects their ptsd symptoms. European Psychiatry, 29, 1.

My dad snores so loud, the house shakes

Andi P.

Many people may not know that sleeping on your back can put you at higher risk of snoring. That is not the only cause of snoring though. A person’s age, weight, alcohol consumption, and nasal problems can also affect whether a person snores or how loudly they snore. Snoring is defined as breathing with a snorting or grunting sound while asleep. Snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores has that disorder.

I do not snore, but then again, I wouldn’t know if I snore. I sleep on my own so there is no one else around to tell me if I snore or not. In fact, as far as I know, only one person in our household snores. That person is my dad. My dad snores so loud, the house shakes, or at least that’s how I’d describe it. Although he’s never been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, his snoring affects sleep everywhere. He doesn’t get much sleep due to the snoring waking him up every so often. My mom, who has to sleep in the same room every night, probably lays awake most of the night wondering if he will ever stop snoring. I am surprised she hasn’t gone deaf yet from the noise. Hunter, my younger brother has the great privilege of sleeping in the same vicinity of my parent’s room. I used to wonder why he always woke up crabby, but now I am pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that dad’s snoring keeps him up. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Now, my sister and I have it a little better. Our rooms are in the basement, so we have a floor separating the noise of his snoring. My sister, Sara, sleeps right below my parent’s room. Although she can’t hear any snoring, she hears when mom gets up to walk around when dad’s snoring wakes her up. This in turn wakes Sara up. I am the luckiest of all. My room is very quiet. I cannot hear dad’s snoring or mom getting up when the snoring is too loud to sleep. Sometimes in the middle of the night I can hear my sister getting up and walking to the bathroom whenever mom’s footsteps upstairs wake her up. It is like a chain reaction. Dad’s snoring wakes up my mom and brother, their footsteps wake up my sister, and her opening the bathroom door wakes me up. In the end, everyone ends up not sleeping well. Even though dad is still sleeping, his snoring periodically waked him up and keeps him from getting a goodnight sleep.

Although he has never been diagnosed for a sleep disorder, my dad’s snoring affects my family and I just about every day. Since snoring could be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, it would not hurt to get checked out if you are a person that regularly snores. My dad has finally agreed to get tested and see if he has obstructive sleep apnea, because we have all pushed him to. It is not good for his health or ours to be snoring so loudly all the time.