Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sleep Apnea

I have probably started and deleted this post a dozen times over the last 6 weeks or so. I just couldn't bring myself to write and admit some of the things I am about to share. I'm slowly making peace with all of it, but it hasn't been easy for me.

Back in January I went to the doctor because I hadn't been sleeping well for a long time. I was restless, my legs were twitchy, my back was killing me, and I was waking up just as tired as when I went to bed. Poor Marshall has been wearing earplugs for years now in part because of my snoring (the other part is traffic noise). Then I was listening to a friend's follow up interview on Half Size Me. She and Heather discussed her diagnosis of sleep apnea from when she was overweight. Heather asked the question of what Brenda would say to those who have thought of getting tested, but haven't. Brenda's answer wasn't anything I hadn't heard before, but it was the way she said. Sleep is so important for all of our bodily functions and mental acuity. The part that got to me was when she said it is medicine that is just as important as any pill or injection you could take.

So I got a referral to a sleep doctor. I met with him and it wasn't IF I had sleep apnea, but how bad. So I did a home sleep study. Turns out I have fairly mild sleep apnea all things considered. I had anywhere between 11-40 events per hour depending on the stage of sleep I was in. And off I went to get my fancy pants CPAP.

I was not happy with the diagnosis, but I was glad to know what was wrong. I didn't want the CPAP but I was determined to give it a fair shot and use it. I had to see if it would help.

The first night was the worst, but not for the normal reasons. It wasn't because I had this mask and hose coming off my face. It wasn't because I look bloody ridiculous wearing the blasted thing. It wasn't because of the Darth Vader noises I now get to make.

It is the fact I have to wear it at all.

I went to bed early so I could lay down and get used to this thing under my nose and a new way of breathing. I laid down and started to read. I laid there for about 10 minutes and I burst into tears. I tore that mask off and sobbed. Marshall came in and was bewildered as to what had happened. I only cry that hard when something truly awful has happened. It took me a while to calm down enough to tell him what was going through my head. It all hit me like a ton of bricks.

How did I let myself get to this?

How have I not loved myself enough to take care of my body?

Why did I feel I have to hide?

What bully did I listen to and take their words to heart to believe I'm not worth loving?

All I can say is I have been beyond blessed to have my husband. He talked me down, hugged me, wiped away tears and just held me.

I felt like I truly had hit rock bottom. I have hit some really low points, but this last month has been rough. What little weight I have lost according to my scale I have gained back, but my smaller pants still fit so that's alright. But I have been self-sabotaging my efforts and eating like crap again. Some days I realize it and stop. Some days I realize it and give in. Some days I don't realize it until it's too late. But it's getting better.

Today I had my one month follow up appointment. My doctor is very proud and impressed.

I had 2 days out of 30 that I wore it less than 4 hours. I remember those nights too. I had gotten too hot and started coughing. If you cough while wearing a CPAP you feel like your are choking and drowning. It's awful. I was so asleep I didn't realize that I was coughing because I was hot, so I just tore the mask off and turned off the machine.

My average number of events is 0.2 hour, and every 4th or 5th night I'm not having ANY events at all. My doctor said this was phenomenal.

I am not tossing and turning as much and if I do it's because of my hips and back hurting. I'm sleeping deeper through the night. To the point I wake up disoriented because I was sleeping so hard.

I had been disappointed there weren't leaps and bounds in my energy or other improvements, but my doctor was fine with it. He reminded me that I didn't have severe sleep apnea and that I wouldn't see these huge changes almost overnight. Mine are going to be smaller and more subtler changes.

He asked me how I liked my CPAP and was very surprised when I told him I hate it. I hate that I have to have it and I hate using it. It serves it's purpose and is necessary for now. It is another medicine to get me healthy. I told him I working towards getting back to where I don't need it. He grinned, told me he loved my attitude and he would be more than happy to order a new sleep study when I get to where I want to be.

I'm not sabotaging myself like I was now that I have kind of processed all of this. I'm letting myself be angry and heal. I'm doing better, but it's a long hard road. If weight loss was just about calories in vs. calories out, I could get the weight off pretty quick. It's so much more though.

Lesson from all of this: If you think you have an issue, go get it checked out. It may not be the answer you want, but if you can get help and feel better it is worth it.


To end on a happy note I just got home from MD for a work conference with the US Pharmacopeia and the FDA. Flowers are already starting to bloom back there and I am jealous! It was a great conference. I learned a lot and met some awesome people. 

Sunrise Sunday morning in Denver
 In a weird fluke I got to fly first class going both ways. Now that I have seen how the other half live, I'm not sure I can fly in coach again!
Stuffed French Toast and fresh fruit. Notice the real plates and silverware!

Warm cinnamon roll

Supposedly looking towards Pittsburgh

Flying over the Appalachians

 Went to a nearby mall Sunday night to walk and have dinner. I drooled over Teslas and fancy pens.

 I brought a coat I hadn't been able to wear, but I can now wear again. I was thrilled when I found out it fit again!

A little tea treat for myself
 I also got to tour the little museum at the USP and I would have loved to browse through there longer.

Pharmacopeia from the 1800's. They would send out individual pages as they were requested with the latest updates.

 The flight home was a little turbulent. We were flying over some impressive thunderstorms. The sun was setting as I watched the storms roll by. I wish that picture had turned out.
Bowl of warmed mixed nuts
 Dinner was a seafood stew with rolls and a salad. We got a warmed cookie for dessert.

I don't know how I got so lucky to fly first class, but I won't argue! 

1 comment:

  1. I also struggle with sleep issues and can completely relate to the anxiety that revolves around obtaining the proper amount of rest to remedy sleep apnea. Congratulations on not resigning in frustration—fighting through the tough process of getting adjusted to your mask, the CPAP, must have been difficult to get through, thank you for sharing.