If you've noticed that things have been quiet (and a little too off-topic) here at TOP this week, you're not imagining things. I've been distracted. As part of an ongoing effort to solve my health mysteries, I went in to the Sleep Wellness Institute on Tuesday evening for an overnight evaluation. A friendly tech named Michelle hooked me up to a dizzying array of monitors and electrodes (the latter using using a sticky goo she politely called a "paste") until I looked like Frankenstein's monster. I snapped a record shot with my phone. I was asked to sleep.
I spent an uncomfortable night—I don't know how you could not, being wired up like a cyborg—but the verdict is the one we were looking for: I suffer from OSA, obstructive sleep apnea. I won't know all the details for a few more days, but I stop breathing for ten seconds or more at least thirty times an hour when I sleep. That qualifies for the diagnosis.
Somewhat counterintuitively perhaps, this is good news. My doctor told me he was hoping I had sleep apnea—he said it could help explain some of my symptoms and it's easy to fix. That's patently better than some other things that also might explain my symptoms but that are not easy to fix.
In the breakfast room the following morning, after I'd showered all that goop out of my hair and beard, I had a nice conversation with a pleasant and interesting fellow patient, Bill, a former railroad guy recently retired to Milwaukee who said he's been sleeping with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine for five years. He said he "sleeps like a log." I've forgotten what that's like, so I have high hopes. I should be geared out with a CPAP machine by the end of this month (about the same time Ctein gets his ubergeek glasses). I'm really looking forward to it.
Between Ctein's presbyopia and my apnea, this is middle-aged-guy week at TOP! All of you twentysomethings and thirtysomethings out there? Contrary to what Ctein said, none of this will ever happen to you. You're fine. On the bad side, I've probably been suffering from apnea for at least ten years, and maybe fifteen. I wish I'd done this long ago.
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A CD of interest today:
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Ben Marks: "Michael my boy, you are going to love getting a good night's sleep. Speaking from experience."
Peter Robinson: "I'm really happy for you. I'm not a CPAP user myself (I opted for the UVPPP surgery) but I've worked for manuafacturers of sleep monitoring equipment and, more lately, for a CPAP manufacturer, and I have met many people who have said how much their CPAP machine has changed their life. It can take a while, and a lot of people do get issues with using them at first, but stick with it and you will feel a different person.
"If I can give you one piece of advice, stay away from the CPAP forums. They are full of misinformation and psuedo-experts who will mess with your mind. Go with what your doctor advises and, if you have problems, go back to him. Although I'm no longer in the industry, if there is anything you want to know and you want to ask me, please feel free. Good luck."
Mike replies: Hmm. Forums...misinformation...pseudo-experts...what does that remind me of? [g]
Dave Polaschek: "I had a sleep study a couple years ago. All we could prove by it is that I can't sleep while wired up, though while tossing and turning, I can almost strangle myself with the wires."
Howard Sandler: "I've had a CPAP for about four years now. I turned my situation into lemonade. I did a series of stock photos of myself posing as a sleeping man with the mask on and they have sold very well. The only problem is that on about four occasions now, I have been contacted by people who found me through my stock agency and were convinced the photos of the bearded overweight sleeping man in the mask were unauthorized photos of themselves taken in the sleep lab. Apparently apnea is an epidemic among balding bearded heavyset men!"
Will Frostmill: "Mike, I can't tell you how happy I am that you got this diagnosis. I lost my dad when I was a teen to what was almost certainly apnea induced heart failure. I well remember listening to his breathing start and stop as he gasped for air in his sleep. I'm glad you caught it in time. The similarity in age and shape between you and he has given me pause for several years now."
Mike replies: Very sorry about your Dad. I do hope not to succumb to his fate...I'll do my best.
David Boyce: "I was diagnosed with OSA a couple of years ago. A CPAP machine changed my life. More energy, better thinking and reasoning skills, I could go on. It is amazing how much better life gets when you sleep well. Be well."