Denial is the refusal to believe that something exists or is real. And in this article, I share the tragic story of how denial killed my friend.
Denial Killed my Friend
Some time ago, Sam (not his real name) came up to me and said: “I had a sleep study and they put me on that CPAP machine, but I don’t really like it”. A fairly overweight gentleman in his late 50’s, Sam was a casual friend of mine.
“What do you mean?”, I asked.
“Air keeps blowing out the side of my mask. And a lot of times when I wake up my mask is lying next to me, just blowing away”. It sounded to me like a poorly adjusted mask. Or maybe it was the wrong type of mask. Possibly even the wrong pressure.
I talked with him about all these things, offering some suggestions I felt could be helpful. I also encouraged him to go back to his CPAP provider and have them check his mask. He always seemed interested in what I was saying. However, when I ran into him a few weeks later, he hadn’t made any calls. And yes, he was still having problems.
We had several meetings like that. I’d always remind him of the dangers of improperly treated sleep apnea. And I’d encourage him to get things checked out. But the next time I saw him, it was the same thing all over again. Now, Sam was no dummy, and he wasn’t lazy. He was also married; happily, I believe. Yet, knowing the dangers of sleep apnea, he never followed through with my advice.
Tragically, not long after our last conversation, I heard that he had passed away in his sleep. The Coroner said he had had a massive heart attack. This news, of course, devastated his wife. I immediately suspected improperly treated sleep apnea was the culprit. And if so, his death might’ve been prevented.
In any case, what stopped him from following my advice?
Are you in Denial, or What?
My friend knew about the dangers he faced but must’ve been in denial. Like so many of us, Sam apparently just couldn’t accept that he could die if his sleep apnea wasn’t treated properly. Maybe someone else would, but not him. Naturally, I was shocked by his death. But that only made it more puzzling to me. I mean, we had several talks about this issue, and yet, he never did anything about it.
Some people just can’t accept certain possibilities. You know how it is. It (whatever ‘it’ is) always happens to the other guy, right?
Well, then there are those people who just don’t know about the consequences of untreated sleep apnea. To them, CPAP is just about getting a better nights sleep. I’ve even heard some people tell me they don’t need a sleep study because “I sleep just fine”. And while getting some good quality sleep is nice, that’s really just a side effect of CPAP.
And yes, people do die in their sleep because of sleep apnea. However, not because their breathing stopped, but because their heart stopped. Your heart can only take so much stress before calling it quits.
Am I Preaching to the Choir?
It’s easy to put things off, especially if it’s ‘not that bad’. After all, you’ve been like that for so long now. I mean, that’s just the way you are, right?
So, have you settled into a kind of complacency? Is this really ‘just the way you are? Do you understand the dangers of untreated, or even under treated sleep apnea, but don’t think you’re in any danger? Maybe you just don’t understand the real threat that exists.
Or are your finances hindering you? Can you really afford to go through more tests? Let’s face it, even with insurance, there can be some hefty fee’s involved. And I can understand how you might feel that way.
Remember, knowledge can be powerful, but denial can be deadly. So please, carefully consider what’s important in your life, and act accordingly. Who knows, the life you save might be your own.
Till next time…Blessings.