Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sleeping health

Prior to starting Sorenson, I worried about having a roommate overnight in the hotel on the weekends because of my unladylike snoring. My husband complains occassionally so I know it is not a pleasant thing. Well my roommate that first weekend was surprised and unpleasantly so. Of course I am embarrassed and mildly concerned. I decide I should definitely pay the extra money for a single hotel room so as not to disrupt others sleep.

Shortly after that weekend, I participated in the MS Walk- the team leader is a doctor, who is heading to a 'sleep' fellowship in Durham next year (I learned as we walked). I give her my symptoms and she calmly warns me I need to get checked out because people with Sleep Apnea are at higher risk of strokes, heart attacks and all those really worrisome things.

So I go to my primary care physician (who is a nurse practicioner in a large practice- but to me he is a doctor). He refers me to a sleep study because of my symptoms (headache in the morning, chronic fatigue, moodiness, naps etc). Last night was the sleep study.

I got a lot of wires attached to me- its a comfortable room- like a hospital room with the tv that swings from the wall. I fall asleep around 11:30. In order to be diagnosed with apnea one has to have 15 obstructions an hour, according to Helen my nurse- that sounds like a lot to me, so I doubt I will have it. If a patient has the requisite symptoms of apnea, the nurse will put a c-pap machine on the patient, to see if that will alleviate the apnea. The c-pap is a very romantic machine that one wears over her head and puts over her nose and air blows into the nose and somehow manages to trick the brain into not obsructing.

After an hour and a half, the nurse came in to tell me I wasnt sleeping and she put the c-pap on me. I guess I have apnea. I slept well the rest of the night despite having a million wires hanging from me and adjusting to the air blowing into my nose.

Helen told me that I was dreaming for a very long time and she tried to wait till the end of my dream before waking me up (isnt that nice?). I wont get my own c-pap for a few weeks. The doctors will review the results of the study and prescribe a c-pap.

This may be more than you ever wanted to know about me, but something I want to emphasize to stress the importance of treatment since the effects can be bad, and the treatment fairly simple. Finally- I want to say the symptoms for apnea mirror the symptoms for depression- if you snore, stop breathing during sleep, need to take a nap during the day or always feel tired, well it could be apnea and I recommend talking to your doctor about both depression and apnea. My nurse said it best "you wont be moody anymore," my relief was palpable. It just doesnt feel good to be tired all the time.

By the way, apnea is hereditary. I appreciate my Sorenson experience that first weekend, even if embarrassing, it has led to this optimistic prognosis for my fatigue and headaches.


J. Tyler Ballance said...

You are very rare to be addressing this issue.

One of the leading factors that contributes to apnea is obesity and having a loss of good muscle tone in the neck.

I have read that for many patients, just losing a few pounds relieves the pressure on the airway while supine and thus eliminates the need to wear a c-pap.

Improving diet and exercise stops the apnea for some, but right now the medical community seems very enthusiastic about these c-paps.

Jennifer said...

I have heard that losing weight can reduce the need for the c-pap but it is an interesting cycle isnt it? Cant sleep, tired all the time, is it depression? or are you just tired? its hard to concentrate on wellness when depressed or not getting enough sleep. I am hoping with the c-pap I will feel well so that I can promote my own wellness.

Thanks for your comments.

Josh said...

Hey neighbor! Welcome to the club. I too have to use a c-pap machine at night. I went through the whole sleep study thing as well, and have now been using one for about two years.

I must admit to hating the need to use the machine with a burning passion. But I cannot deny that it makes a very large difference in the quality of my sleep.

The first few days that you get your c-pap at home will be fun too... REM rebound is a neat effect.

There's a lot of things they don't tell you about when you use your machine, but the biggest one I'll go ahead and give you my opinion on. There are a variety of different masks that you can use. You may want to check out several different types before settling on one.