Monday, February 9, 2015

Darth Vader, Strokes, and Sleep Apnea

When I was a kid, my parents recorded me snoring. I was embarrassed. I was about 10. Throughout my life, I routinely made sure I would not snore. Never sharing rooms, staying awake, etc. My dad snored as well.  

Years ago, my doctor asked about my sleep. I thought I slept well usually. However, I realized I was often tired. My wife (bless her) is a sound sleeper but she made sure she went to sleep before me!

Dunham Sleep Study 2009
In 2009, I had a sleep study. The results were startling and somewhat concerning. The sleep doctor noted that I rarely completed a deep sleep. He said it was one of the worst cases of sleep apnea he had encountered.

From the Mayo Clinic: “Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and you feel tired even after a full night's sleep.”
I have “Obstructive sleep apnea,” the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.
On the advice of my doctor and the sleep “guy,” I was fitted for a CPAP Machine. “Continuous positive airway pressure” (CPAP) therapy is a common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. It includes a small machine that supplies a constant and steady air pressure, a hose, and a mask or nose piece. Common problems with CPAP include a leaky mask, trouble falling asleep, and a dry mouth or nose."

THAT is an understatement.

I wore it in the beginning often, but I stopped using it routinely several years ago. I rationalized that my sleep apnea wasn’t too bad, I hated the CPAP Machine, and my wife and son slept despite my snoring.    

I knew I snored a lot. I did not realize that sleep apnea could cause many health issues. The concept of stroke and sleep apnea never entered my brain.

Dunham Sleep Study 2015
Who knew that a stroke – or two – WOULD enter my brain with the resulting 20% loss of brain tissue, aphasia, apraxia, and the assorted “excrement” I have to deal with forever.  My life has changed because of strokes and perhaps sleep apnea.

Despite what I knew, I still did not wear my CPAP Machine. They are incredibly uncomfortable. 

I had two strokes and a seizure. Great. 

My neurologist told me that I should do another sleep study. I did the sleep study after that.

Since that sleep study, I have researched a lot about stroke and sleep apnea.

A new study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine shows “that moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea is independently associated with an increased risk of stroke, cancer and death.

Results of the 20-year follow-up study show that people with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea were four times more likely to die (hazard ratio = 4.2), nearly four times more likely to have a stroke (HR = 3.7), three times more likely to die from cancer (HR = 3.4), and 2.5 times more likely to develop cancer. Results were adjusted for potential confounding factors such as body mass index, smoking status, total cholesterol and blood pressure.

“Sleep apnea is a common disease that has a powerful impact on public health because it greatly increases the risk of strokes, cancers and mortality from any cause,” said lead author Nathaniel S. Marshall, PhD, senior lecturer in clinical trials at the University of Sydney in Australia.”

I get it.

But, I hate it. I am so frustrated anyway because I will live with the effects of my strokes forever. Forever. My life is different.  I thought my life "was over.” It is not, but I miss “me.” 

Nonetheless, I am waiting for an appointment to be fitted with a new damnable CPAP machine.

I hate the machine, but, if I want to see my son grow up, I need to use a CPAP Machine. It's like a Darth Vader Mask....

CRAP or CPAP. Same difference. 


Anonymous said...

Look at the ResMed along with the AirFit nasal pillows---much better than a full face mask. I was able to adjust to it very easily. Also, ask about an autoset machine and also make sure you get a humidifier with the machine.

Jame Bond said...

Thank for your information. It is the best health tips.

Cynthia Bowers said...

My mother in law has sleep apnea. My father in law and she have slept in separate bedrooms for many years because of it. She recently got fitted for a CPAP machine which she hates! You are absolutely right how uncomfortable it is for her. My baby girl just turned one which inspired her to finally use her CPAP machine.

Cynthia Bowers @ Bay Area TMJ & Sleep Center