Is that a drunk grizzly bear doing a Cher impersonation on crack!? Nope, it’s me snoring….. I’ve always snored since I was a child…. it’s just one of those things you have to deal with. There’s the embarrassment, being the brunt of sleepover jokes, the occasional physical abuse (i.e. thrown pillows, jab of an elbow) from friends and family, and the difficult task of remaining awake during an overnight trip where everyone else around you is soundly sleeping with the lights out. Now truth be told, I don’t snore all the time and when I do it isn’t always bad… but when its bad ohhh boy is it bad (not bad meaning good but bad meaning TERRIBLE). I’ve tried nasal strips and they didn’t work at all. If I’m too loud and you tell me to roll over, I usually comply while sleeping. I don’t snore when laying on my stomach but who do you know that sleeps in one position all night long??? Finally in 2011 after I decided to finally get my health in check after being tired all the time, I sought counsel from my doctor. She in turn referred me to a sleep center.
The instructions provided for my overnight appointment stated that I had to ensure that my hair was clean and that I wore it in a style that would be suitable for the mask I would have to wear. My dad just did the same test not long before me so I wasn’t too nervous, I was actually more concerned about the condition of my room as I like to stay in nice hotels haha. I got there and was buzzed in and I made my way up to a cute little waiting room and was greeted by a friendly receptionist. The technician who would be monitoring me that night came and led me to my room. The room was very um, cozy haha. It reminded me a lot of grandma’s house with the lovely linens on the bed. The room was also equipped with a private bath and a tv with cable. As the technician hooked me up, we chatted about his educational background and how he came to do what he currently does. He was friendly and made me feel at ease. He hooked me up and strapped me in so that his diagnostic machine could monitor my breathing, eye movement, blood oxygen levels, muscle movement etc throughout the night. If I needed the bathroom, I just had to wave and he would come in and unhook me so I could go and then strap be back up again when done. The next morning, I showered and got ready for work. They had coffee, juice, and muffins available for all the testers which I thought was nice. I got my results a week or so later and BAM, I had severe obstructive sleep apnea. That means that I have long pauses in my sleep for more than 30 instances per hour (I cant remember the exact #). Over time sleep apnea wears on your heart and leaves you with a higher risk of stroke and heart failure to name a few. Not only does my dad have it, but my maternal grandfather and aunt suffer from it as well and now that I know more about it, I am sure that my paternal grandfather and uncle who both died of heart attacks had it as well. I had to go back to get fitted and monitored with the CPAP machine that provides oxygen to you throughout the night. It’s hard to get used to because you have constant air blasting at you and talking is really weird, you do sound kind of Darth Vaderish with the air (again if that’s your kinda thing then this would be excellent for you). Sometimes I get the pressure in my ears as well. I woke up bright and early the next morning which is unusual for me but I wasn’t sure if it was due to having a good sleep or due to me being tired of being hooked up!!
I went in to get my machine and the company I’ve been working with is excellent with follow up. They were very thorough with explaining the machine and it’s parts to me. They also went over cleaning it and gave me a bag to carry it in that is suitable for travel. When going on a flight, you would keep it with you and the airline should allow for it to be not counted as hand luggage. Because my apnea is severe, I have to use the full mask whereas milder cases can use just the one that supplies oxygen through nose tubes. When the consultant pulled out the chin strap to go along with my mask (used to ensure that my mouth stays closed) I started tearing up. Life as I knew it was about to change. I then realized what a luxury sleeping was. I hate having even a sheet over my face let alone a mask!!! Then I thought, how does it work when you’re married or have a significant other, how sexy is that??? It is such a turn off it’s not even funny (unless I come across someone with a weird Darth Vader fetish). My 80 yo grandfather’s advice to me was to just make sure i ‘handled my business’ before going to bed LOL. As awkward as it was to hear my grandpa say that, he’s right. Whenever we are faced with obstacles, we have to remember to work that much harder to maintain whatever level of normalcy possible. Do what you gotta do to put your s/o to sleep so he or she is knocked out before you look like a Star Wars extra lol. Thankfully my health insurance covered most of the costs and I paid a small monthly fee (like $25) for my equipment until the rest was paid off. I used my machine last night for the first time since April 2012. I was in Canada for my grandfather’s surprise birthday party back then and I shared a bed with my cousin. She said halfway through the night I sat up, mumbled ‘f#%* this’ yanked the mask off and flung it as far as the attached hose would let me!!! A lot of people like myself have difficulties complying with treatment because of various reasons such as feeling claustrophobic, etc. I decided to give it another go because I want to be healthier. I’m about to start my organization’s #healthycurves challenge and I’m still tired all the time. Loosing weight helps sleep apnea and although I’m sure I had it when I was a normal weight child (my mom told me she used to sit by my bed and watch me sleep and she would wake me when I took too long to take my next breath), I believe that it wont be as severe after a much needed weight loss. It gets so bad sometimes, that even when I’m out having fun I think about my bed and sleeping at least once. Some Saturdays it takes many attempts to just get out of bed. My grandfather’s wife whom I love dearly suffered a stroke last year and her will to get better in rehab has been an inspiration for me to do better. Everyone has their issues they have to deal with and this is mine. Even in my discomfort I have to be grateful because things could be much worse. Last night, I only slept with my cpap for 4.5 hrs and I still woke up tired and went to work tired but at least I left earlier than usual. That has to count for something right? Perhaps it’s the placebo affect. I’ll update you guys a month from now on how it’s been going. Until then, take care and God bless!!! xoxoxoxoxo