While I had little intention of revisiting this yet, in the past month and a half I had two people I know lose otherwise healthy loved ones to heart issues which seem related to sleep apnea. It’ll take some time to get back autopsy results as evidently the morgues are flooded with overdoses, so in the meantime we wait and tell people that no, they didn’t do drugs, or at least not ones that kill you.
Sleep apnea is stopping breathing while you’re asleep. In my case over an eight hour period I would stop breathing for an additional hour plus. The result is an exhausted person, higher stress levels, and a heart that’s working overtime while you’re attempting to sleep.
Most people with sleep apnea snore. I never did (unless serious drinking happening.) I just stop breathing for a while, then sort of suck in a lungful without a gasp. During a followup sleep study (had to have two,) the attendants came in a few times as they were a little concerned I might be being strangled by the wiring as I had stopped breathing so long.
So I’d love to tell you at 14 months on the machine I’m the picture of health, but that’s not the case. Two kids, three jobs have prevented me from becoming a muscle man I think. What is the case is my long time insomnia which used to be 3-4 nights a week is now one or two times a month. I’m generally not passing out at my desk or so exhausted I can’t function at 11am any more.
I’ve mostly gotten over the RLS/jimmy leg/leg twitch. I don’t know what it is, I’d been given military grade drugs to stop it and at one point a Parkinson’s medication to see if we could get my right leg to stop running a marathon in my sleep. It’s around sometimes now, usually not a big deal. Meds never did anything for it.
I’m a little bit better parent. I no longer look at my kids as obstacles to me falling down and getting some sleep, I rarely wake up and am so oxygen deprived that I am dizzy. This happened once, I fell down stairs trying to carry a little one back to bed. Broke a couple of toe bones on that one. Kid got a scrape and a bandaid and that’s what she remembers.
When I’m sick it’s a day or two long thing because I get some rest that does something. It’s no longer a multi-week thing. it’s a couple of days of “meh, I’m sick… bleeerr”. 2014 I was sick for three months. 2017 so far I was sick for two days. I couldn’t parent for about an hour and a half.
But yeah, the main thing is I’m not dead from something I didn’t know was an issue.
I remember the day a teacher I knew died. He was about three years younger than me. The coroner didn’t want to do an autopsy as he told the wife they would find out he overdosed and she wouldn’t get the insurance (I’m inferring some of this as small town weirdness was going on). She persisted and heart failure was the cause. He’d had severe sleep apnea and had started a CPAP, but it was too late when he started. He left behind a little kid.
Anyway, point is from a metric sort of view, quality of life has been increased and I have about two and a half months more a year that I can do things just on the not being downed by being sick. I’m also not dead of unexpected heart failure, which is nice.
You don’t require a sleep study to figure out if you’ve got apnea although it helps. Grab an app, see if that tells you. Get a digital recorder and record yourself breathing at night. Have your creepy friend watch you sleep.
My symptoms were not snoring. I had constant insomnia. These are not things I think most people would associate with sleep apnea, but think about it more as your body saying “I don’t want to go to sleep because you’re going to try to kill me.” and it makes a little more sense. Maybe the leg does too, we’ve never figured out exactly what triggers that. My knee also starts popping like cracked knuckles when the RLS kicks in but at no other time.
So if you’ve got a loved one, just make sure they’re breathing, if they’re not please get them on a treadmill test or to a sleep study. Sleep studies suck and cost a lot even with insurance, but it’s better than dying.
Feel free to ask any questions