Have you heard of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, but aren’t really sure what it’s all about? This article will help you understand it better. And although the following story is fictional, the events are taken from real life experiences. It’s about a fellow I’ll call Ron, who has Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA.
This is his story.
“Honey, you’re gonna be late for work!! Hurry up!” Once again, Ron drags himself out of bed, his head throbbing. ‘Why do I always wake up with these @#$% headaches?’ he wonders as he staggers to the bathroom in a daze.
Ron, a fairly overweight 54 year old, works down at the local factory. He’s on several medications for both high blood pressure and diabetes. And just like this morning, he usually wakes with a headache.
Sue, his wife, has been concerned about Ron for some time. His loud snoring eventually led them to sleep in separate bedrooms so that she can get some sleep. But it’s those anxious moments when he stops breathing that are especially alarming to Sue. She’s told Ron about these things, but he doesn’t believe her and says he’s just fine.
But Sue also notices that he’s just not himself lately. He easily becomes irritable, and she suspects he might be depressed.
Looking at himself in the mirror he groans ‘you can do this’. Although that little pep talk really doesn’t do much, it’s still better than nothing. Splashing some water on his face, he mentally prepares for the day. As he lumbers down the steps, he smells his favorite coffee waiting for him.
Coffee. “That’s what I need”. Just the thought lifts his mood a bit.
Slamming down his breakfast, he fills his mug with more Java and heads off to work. His headache is gone by the time he pulls into the parking lot, and the coffee is kicking in. But, he knows this level of wakefulness won’t last long. For some reason, this reminds him of a conversation he had with a co-worker. They had mentioned something about obstructive sleep apnea. But Ron just shrugged it off.
He drinks some more coffee at his morning break and has an energy drink with his noon meal. But by the afternoon, he’s struggling to stay awake. He got some more coffee, but it’s not doing much good at this point. Finally, after fighting sleep all afternoon, it’s time to clock out for the day. He feels like he weighs a ton as he walks out to his truck. ‘I just wanna lay down’, he thinks to himself, blinking the sleep from his eyes.
But he has to drive home yet. Good thing he doesn’t have far to go. He climbs into his pickup and pulls out of the parking lot…The loud screech of car tires startles him, as he realizes he had just pulled out in front of someone. Ron’s not very alert at this point.
In fact, most of his drives home are performed with numerous battles to stay awake. There are even times he doesn’t remember parts of the drive home. ‘Funny I haven’t killed someone yet’, Ron thinks as he fights the strong urge to just close his eyes and drift off to sleep.
Does Ron Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
He hasn’t told his wife about those near accidents, and how he struggles to stay awake. He just doesn’t want her to worry. ‘Besides’, Ron says to himself, ‘I’ve done o.k. all this time.’ And actually, when he thinks about it, there are some days where he doesn’t feel bad at all. But Sue is all too aware. And she’s quite concerned. In fact, she finally convinces Ron to at least talk with his Dr. “You snore and sometimes you actually stop breathing. That scares me.” She says.
“O.K.”, Ron replied, “I’ll talk to him at my next check up”.
Ron visits his Doctor
Sue accompanies Ron to his next annual physical. And there she tells his Doctor all about Ron’s sleep habits. The Doctor asks Ron some pointed questions, which includes a sleep questionnaire. This assesses’s his level of sleepiness throughout the day. Ron’s answers are alarming. They show he’s bordering on dangerously sleepy.
Additionally, when his Doctor points out that obstructive sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and lead to sudden death, Ron takes notice. He remembers how loud his dad would snore. And he passed away from a massive heart attack when he was only 50. Ron figures he’s already beating the odds.
His Doctor also explained how obstructive sleep apnea can cause numerous trips to the bathroom.
“What happens is this” Ron’s Dr. began. “Obstructive sleep apnea causes stress . And this stress makes your body think there’s extra fluid around your heart. So it flushes out what fluid is there. Hence the extra trips to the bathroom”.
Between his Dr. and his wife, Ron is beginning to see the seriousness of what he’s facing. So when his Dr. orders a sleep study, he actually feels some relief.
Ron has a Sleep Study
Ron’s sleep study shows that he stops breathing around 30 times an hour. He’s placed on a CPAP machine at a pressure of 9 CmH20. It takes Ron a couple weeks to really start getting used to the machine, but he’s glad he didn’t give up. Now, he can’t believe how much better he actually feels. And no more waking up with a headache.
Also, his blood pressure is coming down, so Ron’s Dr. decreased his blood pressure meds. His blood sugar number look better too! Not only that, but his wife notices that he’s in a much better mood lately. And they’re back sleeping in the same bed.
Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea something that you struggle with? Is there anything about Ron’s story that sounds familiar? If so, I’d recommend you talk with your Doctor. Or maybe you know someone that’s suffering from this disorder. If so, you could possibly save a life. Seriously.
Till next time…Blessings.