A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Andrew's apnea. . .

. . .experiences are something I can relate to, as I went through the same thing, back about 15 years ago. I noticed one day that staying awake was a bit more of a challenge, all of a sudden. I could be standing on the production line at the speaker factory where I was working at the time, and just nod off. I began to miss a lot of work due to oversleeping, and simply having no energy to go in. I couldn't stay awake through an entire movie, no matter how good it was. I simply could not stay awake for more than a few hours at a stretch.

After a few weeks of the Rip Van Winkle routine, I finally decided to see a doctor about it. At first, she thought I might have narcolepsy, as I had fallen asleep while waiting for her to come into the examining room. She was actually taken aback when she walked in and found me snoozing, sitting upright in the exam room chair and was just about to walk out and, apparently, get a witness when I snapped awake. After a few questions, she recommended that I go and have a sleep test performed at a local hospital with a department specializing in sleep disorders.

So, a few nights later, I went to the hospital and checked in for the night. I remember it being the first time in ages that I'd had any difficulty in sleeping whatsoever. All the wires and tubes that had been attached to me limited my movement, and the temperature seemed frigid, making it difficult to find a warm comfortable sleeping position, but I eventually dozed off. I awoke the next day not feeling even slightly more refreshed. In fact, I was as tired as I'd ever been, and shivering from the cold to boot.

As one of the specialists was unhooking me from all the wires, she said it appeared I had one of the worst cases of sleep apnea she'd ever seen. Apparently, during the night, I'd stopped breathing an average of 6 times every minute. . .at one point, stopping for a full 15 seconds before resuming. I was eventually diagnosed with "severe central sleep apnea". At the time, sleep apnea wasn't very widely known, and most people had attributed my sloth and sluggishness to the fact that I was 19 years old and obviously staying out until all hours. Which was true -- and an amazing accomplishment, given the degree of my sleep deprivation.

Nevertheless, I was prescribed a C-PAP machine, like Andrew. I tried and tried to use the thing as instructed, but after a couple of weeks of waking up and finding the mask lying on the floor every morning where I'd struggled with it in the night and pulled it off, I finally gave up and went about my life.

My C-PAP machine is God-knows-where these days, and I haven't been back to have my condition checked. I'm not nearly as tired as I was back then, though, which leads me to believe that perhaps it's not as severe as it was at the time. I did fall asleep driving some years back, and had a wreck that set me back quite a ways, but I'm not convinced it was the result of my apnea, rather than simply being awake for too long a stretch for any person.

I do still take fairly regular mid-day naps, but not all the time. And, it isn't always easy to hop out of bed, ready to tear into the day like Michael Moore with a Swiss Colony sample tray. But, all in all, I've been much worse.

Still, Andrew has set me to thinking, and maybe I should get checked again once I get out of school and start making some decent money. After all, I suppose it could get worse just as quickly as it seemed to get better. But, damn, did I hate that machine. I'm not crazy about the idea of having a chunk of flesh carved out of my mouth in surgery, but the C-PAP clearly wasn't working out. I haven't studied up on the treatment options since then, but surely there has to be some other means.

In any case, I'm glad Andrew has found some relief and is feeling better. I wish it had worked as well for me, but there's always next time.

In the meantime, I'll just keep taking my naps, and try to not drive on idiotically low levels of sleep.

Speaking of which. . .good night.

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