Saturday, September 25, 2010

Out of the Twilight Zone Part 2

By Belinda

Hey friends, if you've been reading here regularly, you may remember my posts over the past few months  about my suspicions and Paul's certainty, that I had sleep apnea (see Out of the Twilight Zone and To Sleep...Yawn .) Well, I have an update!

On Monday I went to see Dr. Ong at the Sleep Clinic to review the results of the sleep study. My greatest fear was that nothing happened when I spent the night at the clinic. I felt as though I slept well, in spite of waking up on the hour every hour and having more wires and straps covering my body than I had dreamt of. How typical a night sleep was it possible to have under such circumstances? I had such high hopes of dealing with a chronic problem at last, yet I wondered if it had shown up.

To my great relief, the data collected from the mess of wires, showed that I stopped breathing 23 times on the night of the study, even though only for periods of 11-12 seconds. This, the doctor said, put me in the category of having mild sleep apnea. Paul tells me that he has tried to hold his breath along with me when I stop breathing and he can't manage it, so I think it may be sometimes longer than 12 seconds, but I was just glad it showed. I asked the doctor how long some people stop breathing and he said that for some it is minutes! That's when it can lead to heart attack or stroke.

After spending time chatting about the options for addressing the problem, Dr. Ong gave me a prescription for a machine called a CPAP and yesterday I went to choose the style of machine that I preferred, was fitted up with my own, and had training on how to use it from a nurse at the store. After trying on the basic mask, I opted to upgrade to a less intrusive and more comfortable version. I'm committed to wearing it, so comfort is important, and I will look less scary to Paul . :)

So, last night I warned Paul that he might want to sleep on the couch as who knows how things would go on my first night. He opted to do that! The nurse said that even using it for half an hour would be a good start, but I was determined to do my best, and I kept it on all night.

At first I felt a little smothered. There are little breathing things in your nose, and breathing out through them, there is some resistance, which takes getting used to. And I had to learn how to yawn without opening my mouth, because the moment you do, the air that is being pressurized down your airway to keep it from collapsing, comes out through your mouth. I had several disappointingly aborted yawns before I figured out you can do it mouth closed, kind of like trying to pretend you aren't yawning when someone is talking to you! :)

I woke up feeling refreshed and could hardly wait to read my Bible this morning. Would I fall asleep, as I usually do? I didn't! I had clarity of thought and didn't have to reread sentences as I usually do. I was able to focus so much better. No fuzzy brain.

As a child I often experienced scary night paralysis, where my brain would wake up but my body didn't. I wonder now if those episodes were connected to apnea, where not breathing woke up part of me.

One night is just a start, but I have higher hopes than ever.Why did I put this off so long? Funny how we procrastinate, or live in denial, when it comes to things that pertain to our own health and well being. I am so grateful at the possible impact on my life from here on in.  And you know you will be hearing about it. :)


Deidra said...

So glad you found an answer. I have other friends with sleep apnea and they have resisted the CPAP machine for different reason. I like your acceptance of it.

Belinda said...

Deidra, me too. I understand your friends resistance--probably doesn't seem like the most romantic sleep attire! I got a new kind that is much nicer to look at, and I figured that by the time it goes on, the lights will be off, and we both will be getting a good night's sleep.

My acceptance of the CPAP machine was more of a rejection of living life tired, sometimes dangerously so. So far today I am still feeling energized!

It is so nice to hear your "voice."

Dave Hingsburger said...

Me and My CPAP! It's given me sleep. Fresh morning. Bright days. I had those night paralysis episodes you describe, I'd wake up in my mind, not body, knowing I had to breathe but couldn't. Horrible. They've gone forever. Welcome to the club, we should invent a handshake.

Belinda said...

And Dave, it's just in time to stay awake through Casablanca tomorrow!:) Tonight I watched a whole two hour part 1 of a BBC production about Elizabeth the Virgin Queen, and stayed awake. Yay!!!