Monthly Archives: April 2016

Do not be ashamed of Sleep Apnea instead treat it

By: Madeleine D
Decatur, GA

It was like a chainsaw – no, a lawnmower revving – no, a sheet of metal going through a paper shredder. In short, my dad’s snoring was deafening. When my family shared a hotel room, sleep was impossible for a light sleeper like me. Exhausted at 3 a.m., I often debated sleeping in the hallway to distance my ears from the roaring din.

I didn’t know then that my dad had complex sleep apnea. When doctors diagnosed him two-anda-half years ago, I had never heard of it. As far as I knew, the only sleep disorders were insomnia and narcolepsy. I soon discovered I was wrong. During that summer, my dad spent two nights in the Emory Sleep Center, hooked up to wires while doctors studied his breathing. His ApneaHypopnea Index was 140, a whopping high number usually reserved for people over 400 pounds. He was scarcely breathing while he slept. This prevented him from REM sleep, the deep sleep that everyone needs in order to function. My dad was starting to show signs of sleep deprivation: drowsiness, bags under his eyes, forgetting to do daily tasks. His sleep apnea could’ve taken years off of his life if left untreated.

In the beginning, my dad was confused about his diagnosis. Sleep apnea typically affects overweight or obese men over 40; my dad was in this age range, but his weight and health were normal. Luckily, my dad started using a CPAP machine. He didn’t like it at first. The mask made him look like a sleepy version of Batman’s Bane, and he had to skillfully maneuver around the machine before he felt comfortable. After a few weeks, though, my dad felt the CPAP’s effects. His morning headaches stopped, and he no longer felt drowsy while driving. For the first time in years, my dad experienced true REM sleep.

Transitioning into life with the CPAP was not seamless. My dad was embarrassed to carry the CPAP on overnight trips, and my stepmom wasn’t crazy about the strange new mask on her husband’s face. Before he treated his sleep apnea, my dad was a light sleeper who woke up whenever my stepmom got out of bed or had a bad dream. With the CPAP machine, he didn’t wake up at these small disturbances anymore, which my stepmom at first found disconcerting. Despite these small hurdles, both of my parents quickly realized that the machine’s benefits far outweighed superficial qualms.

My dad is not ashamed of his sleep apnea. With the aid of the CPAP, my dad can avoid a slew of cardiovascular issues, as well as depression and other ailments associated with complex sleep apnea. With an estimated 80 percent of Americans suffering from undiagnosed moderate and severe sleep apnea, I’m lucky that my dad found the right treatment. On a typical night, his AHI is now between 5 and 10, just above the normal range.

Now, when my family visits hotels, the familiar whoooosh of the CPAP replaces his raucous snoring. With the help of the CPAP machine and the doctors at the Emory Sleep Center, my dad is finally getting the sleep he needs.

My story begins when I was a young child

By: Eric C

My story begins when I was a young child.  My mother would fall asleep and within five minutes she would begin to snore loudly and at times you could hear her trying to catch her breath.  Her snoring would terrify both me and my brother because we thought there was a train rolling through our house rattling the pictures.  In the morning we would confront my mother about her snoring and she would look at us in bewilderment; saying “I don’t snore!”  It was at that moment after years of listening to her snoring that we decided to record her and prove to her that she was making the loud noises she was claiming to hear at night.  Her snoring and lack of sleep put her in dangerous situations during the day.  My mother would fall asleep at her desk, take cat naps in the closets at work and occasionally doze off behind the wheel.  Many thanks to all the truck drivers who honked and scared her back onto the highway and out of the ditch she was driving into.  This pattern went on for years; we were worried she would hurt herself while driving and put others at risk along with her.  My mother would take a four hour road trip and it would turn into a seven hour trip since she needed to nap at every rest stop in order to make it to her destination.  Can you imagine the nervousness we went through when she got behind the wheel?

My mother’s sibling encouraged her to get a sleep study done to get to the root of her problem.  She was diagnosed with sleep apnea.  The doctor informed her that she had moved 60 times in her sleep; a sleep study record.  He also informed her of the potential harm that was happening to her while she attempted to sleep; the stress being put on her heart, the lack of oxygen going to her brain; the overall seriousness of her sleep apnea condition.  Finally we had a diagnosis, I say we because we suffered right along with her every night.  Upon completion of this test she was visited by a representative who fitted her with a Philips Resperonics REMstar Pro C-FLEX+.  My mother affectionately calls this machine “her boyfriend” and it has definitely helped her get a good night’s sleep.  Ever since she has been using her machine she has more confidence on her road trips, she does not doze off at work and her co-workers are no longer looking for her in the closet when she is not at her desk.  My uncle has since begun using a different machine to aid in his sleep and they sometimes will share stories of the wonderful rest they get and their lucid dreams.  I would recommend the CPAP machines if you are having trouble sleeping due to sleep apnea.  Take it from me; who first hand witnessed the train rolling through the house, the fear of seeing my mother doze off behind the wheel and the mild form of torture getting familiar with way too many rest stops.  This machine has helped members of my family and I know it will help yours.

Sleep Apnea – CPAP Therapy – Trade Forgetful and Tired for Well Rested and Ambitious

By: Diane A

“Hey…..Mom, where is my soccer ball?”  “Jack, I don’t remember, I just don’t know, and I am too tired to think about it.”  Jack sulked and walked away.  He was disappointed with my response once again.  Poor Jack, he was only 10 years old.  What had his mom turned into?  Well, A forgetful and tired mom at 34… that’s what.  Is this how life is supposed to be?  Is this how 34 year olds act?  Sarcastically, I remember roleplaying introductions to other neighborhood parents, “Hi, yeah, I am Jack’s Mom, Mrs. Extremely Tired and Forgetful.

That was exactly 10 years ago.  Looking back, I remember I was always tired.  In fact, it was a state of being much worse than ‘just tired’. I was truly and utterly exhausted.  Everything about everyday was a struggle, a battle.

During that time I was so jealous of other moms around town.  They seemed to jump out of bed each day like gazelles.  They were energetic and alert.  They would shower, get dressed, go to work, and run a household full of kids to lots of activities without ever skipping a beat.  My tired and exhausted self had a one child household and I just existed.  I was enduring each day but barely functioning.

My work demands, Jack’s school activity demands, and our overall household demands began to increase.  I could not keep up, and I soon realized that continuing in this barely functioning manner was clearly not going to work.  It was also not fair to my son.  Jack deserved a mom that was gazelle like and something had to be done.

First step, I spoke to my Doctor about my energy level, my sleep habits, weight gain, and I specifically let him know that when I woke up each day I did not feel fully rested.  He suggested having a sleep study done, as my symptoms indicated possible Sleep Apnea.  Little did I know, that easy and painless sleep test would change my life and how I participated in Jack’s life forever.

For the next steps, the sleep apnea test was scheduled, performed, and when it was finished I drove home from that test feeling something different.   I did not feel rested, I felt well rested.  I felt like I had the energy and ambition to have a very productive day.  The feeling was unbelievable.  I was neither tired nor exhausted.

I was so excited to get my CPAP machine that I asked my Doctor to place the order for the machine ASAP.  I was determined to never be Mrs. Extremely Tired and Forgetful again.  I wanted to feel well rested, energetic, and full of ambition every morning.

The diagnosis Sleep Apnea did not scare me.  The fact I would have to use a CPAP machine every night did not scare me.  (My CPAP machine had now arrived.   I chose a pink machine because I figured why not have one that is both functional and stylishly fun.)

What did scare me was thinking about my body and the future of my overall health.   If I would have let the exhaustion and tiredness continue, if I had not talked to my Doctor, and if I skipped diagnosis, I might have caused permanent damage to my organs.

I now know that having undiagnosed Sleep Apnea puts a lot of stress on the body and all of its organs and systems.   Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea could have affected my ability to drive safely, my heart’s performance, as well as all of my other organs and internal systems.  I chose to get diagnosed, and seek treatment and I am really glad I did.

I could not imagine where I would be now, 10 years later, if I had not been diagnosed.  Sleeping through life is not a way to live.  Exhaustion from just existing is NOT normal.  Living life and being active to the point of exhaustion is normal and as a CPAP user, I am not going to miss any more of life’s amazing adventures.

Snoring Kills: How My Mom’s Snoring Made Her Quit Smoking

By: Melody M

 

My childhood nights varied depending on the usual adventures of the day. My mother and I shared the biggest room in the house when I was a child, a very large and dreamy bed that I still find solace in today if I’ve had a bad day. If my mother and I had taken a specifically tiring excursion, like to the zoo or my cousin’s house, than I would drop onto the bed like a log and sail soundly to sleep. If it was a particularly uninteresting day, specifically any that had to do with math tutorial or school, I would lie awake tossing and turning. One thing that stayed the same, even as I spend nights in my room as opposed to sharing one with my mom, is my mother’s unbeatable snore. It could be heard throughout the house at any given night. It is usually the siren that warns my siblings and I to be quiet and make sure not to wake her. I used to put my head under my pillow because of the irreproachable roaring that came from her mouth late at night. Sooner or later the snoring even began to develop a rhythm, it would stop in beats of two or four and then start up again with the same grandiose entrance. Years later, my mom offered my 3 year old nephew to sleep in her bed after watching a movie together. My nephew looks at my mom and says: “No ‘nana’ you sound like a monster when you sleep”.   My mother decided to go to the doctor to see what was wrong. She soon discover that her snoring was mainly because of her smoking problem.

My mother’s smoking was at it’s peak when I was younger, due to the stress of having both teenage and toddler children. She was aware of the health problems that could be caused by smoking but didn’t know the connection to snoring. When she finally went to the doctor to discuss her large snoring problem, he immediately connected to smoking. Smoking, which is usually connected to a plethora of other health problems, can have a major role in the amount of people who snore. According to a WebMD, habitual snoring affected 24% of smokers, 20% of ex-smokers, and almost 14% of people who had never smoked. In an article titled “5 ways to stop snoring” published by the United Kingdom National Health Services, “Cigarette smoke irritates the lining of the nasal cavity and throat, causing swelling and catarrh. If the nasal passages become congested, it’s difficult to breathe through your nose because the airflow is decreased.”

Since her discovery of this, my mother has decided to quit smoking. My mother’s decision to quit smoking was difficult, she knew that it would affect her feelings, her behavior, and even her ability to do everyday tasks. S This decision not only affected her health but has put the snoring beast to bed. She sleeps soundly now, with the only a slight flutter when she’s in deep sleep. Our family is now much quieter and must peep in her room to see she’s sleeping.

Don’t live grumpy, treat your sleep apnea

By: Owen P
Littleton, CO

Sleep apnea is not something that many high school kids pay attention to or are even aware of. I am not one of those and am certainly aware of it. To say my Father snores loud is an understatement. He sounds like two angry grizzly bears fighting with chain saws. One time I was across the street helping the neighbor fix his car. He casually stated, “Your Father taking a nap?” I responded, “I’m not sure, why?” He replied looking across the street at an open window on our house, “Either that or you’ve got an air compressor with a bad valve near that window.” Whenever I’ve had to share a room with him, it was always a race to fall asleep first.

We have an English Bulldog named Bumper that snores a lot also. It’s funny because you would think that my Father and Bumper were having a snore battle or snoring a duet together. I don’t know how my Mother shares the same bed with him. She said that she got used to it over time. Even though I make fun of his snoring, it’s a serious thing. His snoring was a sign of sleep apnea and he would stop breathing at night. Eventually he went to the doctor. They explained to him how dangerous sleep apnea can be. They scheduled him to do a sleep study. It’s funny to hear my Father explain that one. You go to an office building at night where they have a sleep lab set up. The nurses hook you up to fifteen different machines that will monitor your sleep patterns.

Then in a strange bed with wires attached to all parts of your body and wearing a skull cap with wires attached they tell you to go to sleep while they watch you from another room. Halfway through the night they give you a CPAP machine and tell you again to go to sleep. When the results came back they said my Father didn’t sleep well. Who could sleep in that environment? But all joking aside, the results proved that my Father had a severe case of sleep apnea. They prescribed a CPAP machine and he started using it immediately. He looked like an air force jet pilot and sounded like Darth Vader. It took some time for him to get used to sleeping with it.

His snoring stopped completely. He became way less cranky too. I guess not sleeping and sounding like a bear at night made him cranky as a bear in the morning. I’m proud and thankful that he addressed the problem. If not corrected or addressed it can have catastrophic results. Unfortunately, we know firsthand the dangers of sleep apnea. My Uncle Brian died in his sleep at the age of 44. They are pretty sure that it was sleep apnea that killed him. He didn’t go to the doctor to get it addressed. He, like so many others, just brushed it off as no big deal. I wish my Uncle Brian had paid attention to the signs and addressed it.

Sleep apnea affects many people, but yet they don’t go to a doctor to get it diagnosed. Addressing sleep apnea, not only increases life span, but life happiness. I have witnessed this first hand with my Father, as well as seen the negative effects with my Uncle Brian. All in all, there is a solution to sounding and acting like a grumpy bear.