Monthly Archives: March 2016


By Paige Wi,

Sleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. Sound dangerous? Well it is. Imagine while you sleep your body just not breathing for a while. Sleep apnea turns bedtime into possible death. My father has sleep apnea. While growing up, my dad would always come home from work and lay down on the couch. He would tilt his hat over his face then take what he called a “power nap”. His snoring was crazy loud, my brother and I would often mimic and chuckle calling him a sleeping bear. Now that I’m older I notice a huge problem during his “power naps”. My father’s loud rumbling snores will be cut off for seconds to a minuet at times and be followed by him gasping for air. Sleep apnea can kill him and its stresses the family out. My father is a strong believer in no treatment so he just keeps on napping without a care. So I proposed an idea. Lets get a trial machine for a week and if it doesn’t work then we send it back.


Day 1 on “obnoxious air thing”: my dad is annoyed beyond belief at the noise this thing makes. He put the mask on to go to bed and complained about the sound of his new CPAP machine. Morning after was successful! Dad woke up feeling awake and not groggy as usual.


Day 2 on CPAP: Dad is still denying how great he slept last night but I’m sure he will come around. He uses it once again tonight to sleep. Morning after he caves in and lets me know that he has energy in the morning like never before. He is sleeping through the night and doesn’t even feel like he needs his “power nap” after work.


I planned on having the 7-day journal to tell you how each passing day with his trial on CPAP went but he has decided to keep it. It is a pretty loud machine and he feels bad having it fun at night but little does he know, his snoring was so much worse. As a family we can rest easy knowing dads machine is constantly pushing air through his airways. There will be no more collapsing of airways making us as a family shake and wake him up every few minuets. I can know rest easy knowing sleep apnea no longer controls my father’s life.

CPAP Therapy: A Miracle!

Mckenna C.

A sleeping disorder is a change in your sleeping pattern or a change in your sleeping  habits due to blockage in the airway while sleeping. It can be anywhere from mild to serious.  People that have a sleeping disorder experience a lot of daytime sleepiness and irregular  breathing. They tend to wake up a lot during the night and that gives them trouble having a good  night’s sleep. When I was younger, I remember my mom experiencing all of these symptoms. At  first we didn’t realize she was suffering from a sleeping disorder and we were very confused and  worried as to why she was experiencing the things she was. She later realized she had sleep  apnea.  As a child, it was hard for me to understand exactly what my mom was going through. I  saw her being tired all the time even in the very middle of the day. We would be out running  errands and she would constantly be yawning and acting as though she wanted to take a nap.  She never had energy to want to go out do anything more than going to the grocery store or  something as simple as running errands. We never went to an amusement park or took huge  trips where we would be out all day. My mom would get worn out very quickly and at times it  was very frustrating. She also had a bad case of snoring while she slept. It was very loud and I  could hear from my own room at night. As a kid who invited friends over frequently, it was  somewhat embarrassing to me for my friends to hear my mom snoring. I didn’t know why she  did that so I couldn’t explain it to my friends. I never wanted her to volunteer for overnight school  events because I was embarrassed about her snoring.

There have been many instances where her lack of energy has happened in public and  endangered her as well. One time we were walking around the mall shopping together and we  sat down on a bench to relax for a few minutes. We were both on our phones just taking a break  and I looked over to see that she was dozing off. Her head was nodding and i could that she  was falling asleep. She shut her eyes for only 5 seconds and was already half asleep. I had to  shake her arm to get her back to reality. She pulled herself together and we were able to get up  and start walking around again. Another time, a time when i was not with her, she was on the  freeway on her way home from work. She worked in Austin at the time so the drive to and from  work everyday was 45 minutes or more. I assume because she has been sitting in the same  position for so long, she became sleepy. She started dozing off while driving and woke up  realizing she was swerving into the other lane. She almost hit the car next to her. Luckily she  had enough time to move back into her lane. That incident really scared her and made her  realize her problem was putting her in danger. My mom decided she would make time to see a  doctor.  My mom made the appointment and went to see a doctor a few days after her “almost  accident”. She was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, that’s when you have pauses in your  breathing or small breathes while you sleep. They had her do a sleep study where they watched  her overnight to see how she slept. It turned out she was waking up over 85 times during the  night. No wonder she was tired! We realized this was the cause of her snoring and her reason  for waking up constantly during the night and never sleeping well. Her doctor prescribed her a  CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This machine increases  the air pressure in my mom’s throat so her airway wouldn’t collapse during the night. The  machine she uses is a ResMed Elite with a nosepiece that connects to the machine with tubing.
The nosepiece has a double strap that goes around the back of her head that keeps it on during  the night.

According to my mom this was something she should have done a long time ago. She  says the difference in the way she feels after using the cpap machine even after a few days was  “a miracle”. She says she feels more energized and just getting up and feeling rested is  something she thought she would never have.

Living With Someone Who Suffers From Sleep Apnea

By Aaron A-G,

Sleep Apnea is a chronic disorder in which one repeatedly stops breathing during the night. Family members living with a sleep apnea sufferer are negatively impacted by a family member suffering from Sleep Apnea.  For the family, the condition can cause anxiety, distraction, and disruption in their daily lives.  Sleep Apnea is a condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated early, and in doing so, prevent debilitating, long term health issues, including the potential for premature death.

As a young child, I cherished the time with my father. He was a US Probation and Parole Officer for the Eastern Judicial District of California, responsible for supervising dangerous, convicted criminals, and as serving as a sentencing advisor to the judges in his district.  I was very proud of him and loved him.  However, I noticed that after work, he would come home, eat, spend some time with my brother and me, and fall asleep in his recliner.  I remember him snoring so loudly, he drowned out any music or television program that might be on.  He would periodically stop breathing, and subsequently wake up, gasping for air.  These episodes made me laugh when I was too young to understand the gravity of his condition.  As I grew older, I was cognizant of what was really happening; these episodes were frightening. I found myself not waiting for him to gasp for air; I’d poke or gently shake him to wake him and get him breathing again.  I found myself consumed with worry.  I worried when he went to bed, wondering if he would wake up in the morning.  My sleep pattern was equally disrupted as his, but for different reasons, which impacted my ability to perform at my best during my daily activities.

I spoke with my mother about his snoring and disrupted sleep pattern.  She too, was very concerned about his health.  She advised me she would not sleep well due to his snoring, halted breathing, finding herself counting seconds from the time he stopped breathing until he awoke gasping for air.  Clearly, for his health, as well as the rest of the family’s health, something needed to be done.

We had a family meeting in which we expressed our concerns. Remarkably, the family meeting produced enlightening information that dad shared with us.  His commute was about forty-five minutes from our home in the foothills to downtown Sacramento.  He told us that the first fifteen minutes of his drive were fine; however, the remaining thirty minutes was spent struggling to stay awake.  He stated he nodded off at work when he was at his desk, and again, fought to stay awake almost the entire commute home.  This was absolutely terrifying to the family; not only were we afraid that he would die in his sleep, now we were concerned about him falling asleep while driving.  We were all in agreement that medical assessment was a must, and right away.

My dad participated in a sleep study and was diagnosed with severe Sleep Apnea.  He was fitted for a CPAP machine and his condition, while still present, is controlled.  He was resistant to wearing the mask at first, complaining of discomfort and an inability to sleep in a comfortable position, but has since adjusted well and actually refers to his mask as his “private, nighttime sanctuary.”  The benefits of the CPAP machine are evident; he does not fall asleep in his chair after dinner, he does not snore anymore, his commutes to and from work no longer present a danger to himself or other motorists, and the rest of the family has experienced a greater degree of sound sleep, reduced anxiety, and increased productivity.

In summary, Sleep Apnea is a serious and dangerous condition.  Education about the nature of the condition is imperative.  Sleep Apnea impacts not only the affected person, but everyone who shares space with him, whether it be at home or in the community.  Sleep Apnea is a treatable condition; diagnosis and treatment is imperative to the health and safety of the patient, family, and community at large.

My mom married my step dad

By: Renell J

My mom married my step dad in 2008. My step dad was in the United States Army. In 2009, he was due to retire after serving twenty years. To complete his retirement paperwork, he had to be given a physical to be released. He had the usual blood work, stress tests, etc. but because he was feeling tired during the day, as if he didn’t get a good night’s sleep, they suggested him to do a sleep study. The sleep study monitors his breathing, when he gets into a deep sleep, etc. My mom had been noticing that he snored more in his sleep and much louder than he used to.


When he completed his sleep study, they diagnosed him with having sleep apnea. They had told him that most of the night, he stopped breathing on several occasions. He was given a percentage amount, that compared him to others, and he was in the high category. Because of this apnea, he would have to use a CPAP machine, which assists him in keeping airflow going while he sleeps, so he doesn’t stop breathing. The whole family discussed the dangers of sleep apnea and researched it to better understand it. We just happened to be watching a show, Deadliest Catch, and found out that one of the seaman on the show had died from sleep apnea. He was thirty-two and didn’t know he had it. After that, the diagnosis hit much closer to home for us. My step dad wasn’t thrilled with having to wear a mask every night, but we reminded him how dangerous it would be for him and for us if he didn’t wear it for just one night.


It has been six years now since he has been diagnosed. I used to be in the living room watching television and could hear his loud snoring before he used the CPAP machine. My mom would have problems sleeping because of his snoring and would have to push him on his side in hopes that it would stop. Now, I don’t hear him snoring at all, and my mom sleeps better. He puts on his CPAP mask every night and even when he began using it, he realized how much better he was sleeping and not feeling tired in the morning. When we go on a trip, if my mother doesn’t ask first if he has his mask, then I will. I know he knows that we do this because of the dangers of sleep apnea and the fear that what happened to the thirty-two year old on that show could easily happen to him, if he doesn’t wear his mask. So, even though it’s not the most comfortable thing to wear and you have to get used to the forced air flow (yes, I tried it on so I know what he has to go through), it will help him to breathe and stay alive. It’s not reminding him, because he doesn’t forget to put it on, it’s just letting him know that we care about his condition and we care about his life, and we don’t want sleep apnea to take him from us. We are all grateful that there is a machine like this out there that can help keep him alive. We are also grateful that there are sleep studies for people to be diagnosed with sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, etc.

temporary cessation of breathing

By: Lena S

“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” –Thomas Dekker

By definition, sleep apnea is a temporary cessation of breathing during sleep, experienced by some people. During this cessation, breathing is very shallow or completely stops. The most common form of sleep apnea is (OSA) obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when there are repeated episodes of complete or partial blockage of the upper airway during sleep. These episodes can reduce the flow of oxygen to vital organs and cause irregular heart rhythms. With this in mind, it is important to understand the effect of sleep apnea in relation to cardiovascular complications and overall patient health.

My profession is in the field of cardiovascular medicine and critical care. To be more specific, I am a cardiovascular interventional specialist who helps the Cardiologist with heart catheterization and other procedures involving vasculature. During these procedure images are taken of the heart vessels and other vasculature in the body. Any blockages or occlusions that are found that may causing heart attacks, ischemia, and pain to patients are usually fixed. Provided that these are routine procedures, anytime we begin a new case we ask the patient many questions, some of which involve sleep or breathing disorders. The most important question we ask in relation to sleep disorders are about history of obstructive sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or use of a CPAP machine. This is an important question because we administer conscious sedation and pain medication during the procedure and the effects of the medication are to relax the patient and get them into a resting state.

Furthermore, most patients that receive these medications often fall asleep. Since the staff asks questions pertaining to obstructive sleep apnea and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, then the risks of giving too much sedation or pain medicine are understood. Complications of giving too much sedation to a patient that has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or obstructive sleep apnea include respiratory suppression or arrest and possible application of a ventilator. In addition, understanding a patients’ history of such disorder or diseases allows staffs to know to administer additional oxygen for adequate perfusion.

As it can be seen across America, risk of having obstructive sleep apnea and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease increases with obesity and unhealthy choices such as smoking increases every day. In fact, the risk of heart disease and heart failure also increase with obesity, smoking, hypertension, and family history. It is impertinent to understand the implications that comes along with having such diseases and disorders. Many who have these diseases have a poor quality of life and require use of different machines and the administration of supplemental oxygen. One of which is a (CPAP) continuous positive airway pressure machine. In my experience, there are many patients we ask, who are at risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and obstructive sleep apnea, are they supposed to use a CPAP machine. The answer is most often yes, but when we ask if they actually use it, the answer is usually no.

Consequently, these disorders although treated by physicians come across as not very important to patients. It is because of this that patient education and healthy lifestyle changes should be taught more. Cardiovascular disease in relation to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and obstructive sleep apnea, are often seen in the same patients. With this in mind, the overall health of patients with these diseases is assumed to be unhealthy and should be treated and educated for a better quality of life.