The Sordid Tales of Obstructive
Sleep Apnea (OSA)
In November 2011, I went to my doctor for what I thought was a cold or a sinus infection. I figured she would give me some antibiotics and send me on my way. But she didn't. And because of that, I am confident that she saved my life (or at the very least helped improve the quality of my life). She told me that she didn't think I needed a prescription, and "as long as you are sleeping well at night, you should be fine." What she didn't know is that I have rarely slept well my entire life. I go through periods of insomnia, periods of frequent nightmares, and on rare occasion, periods of restful sleep. I knew this wasn't "normal," but I just figured it was something I would have to learn to live with. I usually take it where I can get it. I told her about my history of poor sleep patterns, and she referred me to a sleep center for an overnight sleep study.
To make an extremely long story shorter, I was diagnosed with mild/moderate obstructive sleep apnea. My sleep study showed that I was only getting about 80% effective sleep. So no matter how long I slept, it wouldn't be enough. Though I was not excited about this diagnosis, I felt some relief to finally know the root of my sleeping difficulties. That explained why I would wake up in the middle of the night, heart pounding and neck hurting, and why I was always tired. Most nights it felt like I was having a panic attack in the middle of the night. Now, I can take the proper steps to take care of myself, by getting more sleep and usng my cpap (continuous positive airway pressure) machine every night. One year later, things are improving. I am experiencing better rest (dreaming means I'm getting REM Sleep. Yay!). I still struggle with the urge and often succeed in ripping the mask from my face in the middle of the night, but I put it right back on once I have figured out I'm no longer wearing it. Persistence is key. My biggest goal for 2013 is to improve my health (eat better, lose weight) so that I am no longer required to wear a cpap machine every night. 'Cause like I said, it just ain't sexy. And that machine and I have a love/hate relationship. I love that it keeps me breathing at night, yet I hate that I have the need for it. BUt my life is precious, as my dad told me, so sexy or not, I wear my mask. (Not using it would put me at a greater risk for a stroke and other health related issues. Plus, I'd be just plain ol' irritable...and no one wants that!). Studies show that lack of adequate sleep affects your memory, attention span, mood, and your ability to lose weight. So getting a good amount of rest is important for a good quality of life.
According to the Mayo Clinic website (which I consider trustworthy), these are symptoms of OSA: hypersomnia (aka excessive daytime sleepiness), loud snoring, episodes when your or your partner's breathing stops, abrupt awakening with shortness of breath, awaking with a dry mouth and/or a sore throat, morning headaches, insomnia, and attention problems. For more information on OSA and other sleep disorders, please visit: www.sleepdoc.com and www.mayoclinic.com. You can also check out this website that I just discovered at www.sleepapnea.org. If you have been diagnosed with OSA, use your mask!!! It's a nuisance but it will help! Thanks for reading.. And no, my mask does not look like the one in the pic -- it's way sexier! :)