Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Post 3940 - A Health Scare

I have been thinking about whether to discuss this on the blog. It is quite personal, and I am better than I was, but still not all the way to where I should be. So, I'll tell you; but please promise to tell nobody else. Deal?

For years and years I have had problems with exhaustion. I would occasionally fall asleep at work. I was in a deep fog at work and often had a hard time concentrating on whatever I was toiling on at the moment. 

It was also the type of exhaustion that made it progressively harder to make it to the weekend. Patricia reported to me more than once that as recently as last summer when I took the bus home, the brief walk from the bus stop to my front door (about 4 minutes) seemed ever longer. She would see me and wonder if I might collapse. I had bags under my eyes the size of satchels. I would fall asleep in front of the television and go lie down "for an hour or so", and not get up again until the next morning. On weekends, I would sometimes get up late and have to take "a nap" in the afternoon. Once again, I thought it was just the price of getting a bit older. I remember my dad being the same way.

For years my doctor told me to get a sleep test from a place like The Snore Shop, or The Breath Factory, or whatever. I kept putting it off, thinking that being tired was just the way I was supposed to be. 

Finally, in October of 2020, I followed through. There is a Snore Shop not far from here, so I made an appointment for mid-November for a sleep test. It consisted of an apparatus on my head so the doodads coming from it could measure certain statistics. It was tight and very uncomfortable. I couldn't wait to get up the next morning and get it off me.

The results were disturbing. They came in when we were at the cottage I think it was. The message said I had a "severe" case of sleep apnea. 

I had another appointment with a sleep specialist. She went over the results. My AHI's, the average hourly incidents, were 43 for that test night. That means that 43 times an hour, I would stop breathing, and my heart would kick in and cause me to wake up and resume breathing again. That scared the hell out of me. 

I was told I should consider getting a cpap machine. It is short for continuous positive airway pressure and treats sleep apnea by forcing air into your nose via a special mask. She recommended a particular mask that was the least invasive as possible.

I tried to use the CPAP machine that evening, but it was impossible to wear. The air gushing from the machine into my nose made it impossible for me to breathe. I had to give up on it after about 10 minutes, and I turned the air blue with my invective and frustration. The following night, I sat up all night, with the mask on me intermittently, trying to get the rhythm of wearing the mask, enduring the rush of air, and taking in the air the machine was trying to offer me. I was awake until 3:30 or so that morning. 

The third evening I managed to wear the mask for a longer period of time, but I still had to sit up. 

The fourth night, I think it was, I finally figured out how to wear the mask, breathe, and then lie down whilst the air blew into my nose. 

It has been a struggle with several conditional victories along the way. From 43 AHI's, on a good night, I am at 6 or 7 most nights, with some nights in the teens, which pisses me off. On a really good night, I am down below 5, which makes the insurance company happy, and me too, if you care.  If it is below 5, then the insurance company will be inclined to approve my claim to get an actual CPAP machine for my very own. They are pricey, over $2000, and I'd very much prefer it covered the cost, as I fully acknowledge I need this device to get a good night's sleep.

It has helped it, the machine. The bags under my eyes are largely gone. I seldom fall asleep in front of the tv. And my ad hoc afternoon naps are nearly a thing of the past. Here it is, 12:15am, and I feel alert, and am barely yawning. I feel more energetic and alive. A good night's sleep is a heaven-sent gift that all of us deserve.

If you are experiencing the same problems I did for the longest time, please see your physician, or just call a sleep specialist and make an appointment, because you do not need a referral to see these folks. Do not be embarrassed and so manly that you think you do not need help. You do. You are risking your health, and putting undue strain on your heart. 

I feel much better now than I did before. I regret waiting so long to get this therapy. 

The best time to get this help was  yesterday. The second best time is today.

See you tomorrow. I promise to write something more uplifting.


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