When I look back on the days before I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, one thing that amazes me now is that I knew that I had the condition well before I was diagnosed or actually did anything about it. Looking back, I had gone online, done some research about sleep apnea, I knew that my snoring was outrageously loud and I had even made the leap of connecting my constant fatigue to the sleep problems. Even with that amount of understanding and knowledge, I just never really “felt” it was a serious issue.
Like many people, I just figured that I’d eventually start to lose some weight and the whole problem would alleviate itself. Presto! Just like magic.
Even reading about all of the serious side physical effects and the potential for death didn’t jar me into the realization that I should probably do something about the problem. In hindsight, I find it unbelievable that heart damage and high blood pressure wasn’t enough to motivate me to do something about seeking out treatment.
The thing that finally made me actually do something and to seek treatment was an increase in my private health insurance cost – how stupid is that?
I went to the doctor’s got the referral for a sleep study and being honest, even at this point, there was part of me that thought that the tests were going to come up empty and there was going to be nothing wrong. That’s almost delusional, right?
My Apnea-Hypopnea Index Score
The tipping point for me came when I went to see my doctor after the sleep study and we went through the results. My Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) score was 73.1. He explained in layman’s terms that effectively I wasn’t breathing or my sleep was being disrupted over 70 times per hour! Not only that, my brain wave activity during my sleep showed that I was never really entering REM sleep for any length of time and that I was probably never having Level 3 REM Sleep let alone Level 4 which completely explained why I never woke up feeling refreshed.
Essentially, I was chronically sleep deprived and it was placing a severe strain on my body. In retrospect, I think it is safe to say that this severe sleep apnea probably started five or six years ago, so I’ve been suffering sleep deprivation for half a decade! I didn’t have a sleep debt, I was pretty much sleep bankrupt.
I came away from that consultation knowing I had a problem that I had to deal with. Maybe it was the numbers, maybe it was the graphs or even the doctor’s serious tone when he was describing the seriousness of my condition, I’m not exactly sure, but it finally resonated with me.
Being Tested For Sleep Apnea
Then came the second sleep study where they put me on a CPAP Machine and monitored the results of my sleep. They hooked me up to the computer, slapped a Fisher & Paykel Simplus Full Face Mask on me and I fell off to sleep. A couple times through the night I struggled with the mask and they had to come in and re-adjust it for me and about a half an hour before I was due to wake up I literally pulled the mask off in my sleep, but they felt they had enough good data, I had gotten about five hours sleep with the mask and they were happy.
With just those five hours sleep and waking up at 5:45am, I was a different person. I was showered, dressed and eating my hospital breakfast at 6:30am. I was checked out and in a taxi home by 7am. In fact, I didn’t even go home, I went to my local coffee shop – I felt like a million dollars, I was refreshed!
That day was pivotal for me. I walked in the front door by 8:30am and my family and I went out for breakfast like we always did on Saturdays. Except I was in the car wide awake and talking a hundred miles an hour. I had clarity of thought and was coming up with new ideas for things. Halfway to breakfast, a mere ten minutes in the car and my wife said I was a completely different person. The whole day was like that – I wasn’t tired at all, no little cat naps, no struggling to stay awake driving… I didn’t even fall asleep watching TV that night!
I knew then that obstructive sleep apnea was a MASSIVE problem for me and that I absolutely needed to get treatment. In just five hours of good sleep, I could see the difference and I didn’t want to go back. I now feel like a new man, and can only wonder why I didn’t do it sooner.
What about you, do you have a similar story to mine, or did you get treatment straight away when you knew what the problem was? Or maybe you’re tossing up whether to go to a doctor to get a diagnosis?
Please go below and leave your thoughts or a comment.