I just want to let my hair down (LOL, I don’t have that much!), and share some things on a more personal level. But I’ll also not sugar coat anything about the reality of sleep apnea. So, yeah, this’s a friendly chat; but friends don’t let friends die before their time. (I know, I have to ruin everything don’t I?)
I Have Sleep Super Powers
As I sit down at the controls I take a look at my monitors. Both screens show nice crisp signals, so I ease back a bit and keep an eye on things; waiting for my patients to fall asleep, and some real activity to begin. How’s that for being different? It’s not until my patients are asleep that things really start to happen.
Yet, a sense of peace comes over me as I watch the monitors, and everything gets kinda surreal, like I’m in another world; or on another planet.
Sitting here, I began to think back on things; and take some amusement in the fact that, among my many talents, I’m a CPAP Ninja! That’s right! I have the ability to go into my patient’s room and start them on CPAP without rousing them!
Some will wake in the morning wondering when I came in and put the mask on. But actually, it’s not that I’m really that good, these patients are just that sleep deprived.
Common comments I get are, “It must be pretty boring watching people sleep”; and, “How do you stay awake all night?”
Those remarks used to really bother me, because, here I am literally saving people’s lives, and all I get is ‘it must be so boring, how can you stay awake?’ And yet, it just shows me how little people understand about what happens, or doesn’t happen but should, while they sleep.
Then I find myself going back in time and recalling all the patients I’ve helped; and the knowledge that, yes, I really am actually saving people’s lives.
That’s a Dumb Question!
One guy comes to mind. I have my patients fill out some paperwork before the study starts. I’m in the control room, which is right outside the patient’s rooms, when this guy calls out, “What kind of question is this?” I went to his door and asked: “What do you mean?”
“This question”, he says, ” ‘Has today been unusual in any respect?’ Really,” he said looking up at me a bit sarcastically, “I’m having a !@#$ sleep study, and you’re wondering if today’s been different in any way?”
I’m not sure if he’s serious or just joking, so I simply respond with “I guess the question should be reworded to read, ‘Up until now, has the day been unusual in any respect?”
Just the Facts Ma’am
The patients that have sleep studies come from all walks of life, and all ages. From infants, all the way to those towards the end of their lives. However, the ‘average’ patient is an obese middle aged male.
And yes, sleep apnea can run in families. This is because you inherit the physical characteristics that make sleep apnea more likely; such as a short thick neck; and being overweight. Among other characteristics.
Also, it’s estimated that 1 out of 5 Americans have mild sleep apnea. Although, by the time people are seen in the sleep lab, those numbers are significantly higher. For example, the average number of people placed on treatment during a sleep study is 50%-75% or more. Additionally, as many as 80% of people with sleep apnea remain undiagnosed.
However, this disorder is more common in men than women; or is it? Check out my article that addresses this:
Sleep Well and Prosper
So many people think that treating sleep disorders is only about sleeping better. I hear people say they don’t even know why they’re at the sleep lab because they don’t have any problem sleeping.
For example, I have patient’s, come to the lab and do their version of sleep. Many times, these same people tell me they sleep just fine and don’t know why they’re here.
And yet that same person might have high blood pressure, or other heart issues, or be diabetic. When I explain how their heart condition or diabetes might just be caused by sleep apnea they start thinking. Unless, of course, they’re in denial; and there’s a lot of that out there.
Maybe they really believe they’re sleeping well. Maybe they know something’s wrong, but just don’t want to see a Doctor. Seems that most people seen in the sleep lab are there because someone else noticed a problem.
Usually, it’s a spouse or significant other that has the complaint. That’s because they’re the ones kept awake by loud snoring, or ‘all that thrashing about’ during the night. Many couples no longer sleep in the same bed, or even the same room for this very reason!
Then, there are patients who hope that sleep apnea is the problem, and CPAP is the answer. However, they don’t ‘qualify’ for treatment. Then, when I get them up in the morning, and they realize they don’t have the mask on, they quietly go about finishing the morning paperwork; leaving the lab in silence.
I feel sorry for those people really; here’s one more thing that isn’t their problem. It’s unfortunate because not knowing can be worse than knowing. I guess I can’t be Superman to everyone.
Closing Thoughts on Sleep
So what do you think? Because although more and more people are hearing about sleep apnea, there’s still much work to be done in the way of educating the general population about this outright deadly, but easily treatable, disorder.
Please don’t let denial kill you or someone you love.
Therefore, carefully consider your life or that of the one you love; and if you have any questions or concerns, leave a comment. Who knows, you might just share something that could help someone else.
I’ll also do my best to answer any questions, and/or respond to your comments. Thank you.
Till next time…Blessings.