Monday, April 25, 2016

Sleep Apnea

About 15 years ago I was diagnosed with sleep apnea.  In college, about five years before that, I saw a psychiatrist about my depression, and he suggested I had sleep apnea and was all set to have me be tested in a sleep clinic.  The last thing I wanted to do was to look like Bane from the bast Batman movie.  He also said that if the CPAP machine didn't work, they could do a tracheotomy.  When I heard that I almost leapt out of my chair and ran out the door.  I did leave, and never went back.  Besides having a CPAP, having a tracheotomy was worse.  How could I possibly attract a man looking like Bane?  Forget about it.

But  five years after that I couldn't forget about it.  I started wetting the bed.  I guess I was so tired that I couldn't even wake up when I had to pee.  So I went in for the sleep test.  I  had the wires glued to my head, and tried to sleep in a strange place.  I told them I couldn't breathe through my nose, but they didn't seem to believe me for they used a mask that only covered my nose.  Needless to say, I don't know what was worse, my snoring or the weird gurgling sounds coming from my nose.  

I brought home a CPAP machine.  My first one was so loud it sounded like a tornado ripping through my apartment.  After fruitless attempts at sleeping, I switched it for a bigger, yet quieter one, and finally convinced them that I needed full face mask.  

I have been using this contraption for 15 years.  I got a smaller one about 7-8 years ago, but still use a full face mask.  I really don't like wearing it.  But I keep telling myself that it keeps me alive.  

I know people who have CPAP machines but don't use them.  I wonder why.  Maybe they are just not used to having contraptions on their bodies.  I guess I'm used to that.  I had a Milwaukee brace as a child, used a muscle stimulator on my back as a teen while attempting to sleep, had hearing aids since junior high, and braces for 4.5 years and a retainer for one year.  So I'm used to having various strange objects on my body.  I didn't like it at the time.  I hated it actually!  My braces always hurt my teeth, and gave me headaches.  But in retrospect, I am glad I had these things done.  My spine is not so crooked as to require surgery.  My teeth are relatively straight, I can hear things I never heard before, and I finally get the sleep I apparently have needed for years without irritating others with my snoring.

And no, I still haven't attracted a man.  The way I look at it is if he really loved me, he would want me to do what I had to do to be healthy.  Having sleep apena can put a strain on your heart, as you are stopping breathing hundreds of times a night.  You won't realize it or notice it, but it happens.  This puts an added burden on your heart.  Why would you want to do that?  

CPAP machines are much quieter and smaller than they used to be.  And you can get supplies on amazon.  There are other treatments now for sleep apnea that might work for you.  My case is unique as I have it as a side affect from my second cleft palate surgery.  But without that surgery, my speech would be unintelligible.  So since I only have one mouth to speak but two ways to breathe, it's a doable deal.

I guess I have been wanting to write this for a while, to share that life goes on.  It's not the end of the world.  At least now there is something that can be done for sleep apnea.  Just give it a chance.  There are lots of options now, and no excuse to not at least try.  What have you got to lose?


Tyler Williford said...

You are exactly correct that a person should love you for who you are and not what you wear. We all have our masks, or skeletons in the closet, or whatever we want to call it. You should not be ashamed or embarrassed of your mask or any other condition. People should - AND WILL - love you for who you are.

Tyler Williford @ Marzo Smile

amyjean1010 said...

Thank you Tyler for those encouraging words!

Joanna said...

I have a friend who has sleep apnea. When he told me about it I was worried. Yes, sometimes people don't believe when you explain not being able to breathe. I believed my friend. Yet, sadly, at first, I thought he might be exaggerating. But his doctor diagnosed him. It's a difficult journey this life we live. You sound hopeful about the future. Inspiring!

Joanna @ Westheimer Dentist

amyjean1010 said...

Thank you Joanna! It is a scary thing at first, but you get used to it and I am thankful that I live in a time and place where I can get the help I need.

Cynthia Bowers said...

Kudos to you on better yourself! My husband has sleep apnea and the CPAP was a big adjustment, but after awhile he was so happy he decided to use it! And as far as your love life, you must take care of yourself before worrying about involving anyone else in your life! Anyone that loves you will support everything that is you and anything that allows you to better your life.

amyjean1010 said...

Thank you Cynthia, I appreciate your encouraging words!