Sleep apnea has been dubbed “a silent killer”: a sleep disorder that is often overlooked or unrecognized, it incurs increased risk of road accidents due to drowsiness, fatal heart disease, as well as a range of other serious health issues.
Fifteen years ago, Fred was clueless to the cause of his chronic fatigue, until his concerned wife sent him to a sleep study. Had it not been for his timely treatment of sleep apnea, Fred’s life could have been shortened by the associated health risks, just like his forefathers’.
In his own words: “I wouldn’t be surprised if the last four generations of my family had gone through sleep apnea. They didn’t have the equipment I have now. It’s possible that sleep apnea shortened the lives of my ancestors.”
Today Fred L., 66, from Ojai, Ca. shares with us his story of the trials and benefits of treating sleep apnea.
Fred, how long have you suffered from sleep apnea?
Over fifteen years.
How did you come to be diagnosed?
My wife, Ann, noticed that I stopped breathing at night for periods of time. She was very concerned and suggested that I get an appointment at a sleep testing center. After having my sleep study and EKG, I was immediately diagnosed with sleep apnea and prescribed CPAP treatment.
Did you suspect sleep apnea before you were tested?
I had no idea. My ex wife used to say I snored a lot – but no one had told me before that I stopped breathing.
What was your life like before you were diagnosed?
I remember being chronically tired. A common sign of sleep apnea is falling asleep behind the wheel, and that happened to me often. Sleep deprivation affected all aspects of my life.
How has your life changed since you’ve started CPAP treatment?
Well, it’s been a years’ long struggle to get a good night’s sleep. The CPAP is effective, but it’s not perfect. It takes adjusting the mask and the humidifier just right. Plus, I have to sleep almost exclusively on my back. If I roll over to my side, I wake up to air bubbling out of the sides of the mask.
With all that said, I can feel the difference on the nights when I sleep without the machine – for instance, when I’m camping and there is nowhere to plug it in. I get little to no sleep.
With the CPAP, I am successful at getting a good night’s sleep about 40% of the time.
Have you considered any alternatives to CPAP?
I have considered getting a dental appliance. It would be helpful for the nights when I’m out camping. Next time I see my physician, I will ask him about getting one.
Has your doctor ever suggested surgery?
I haven’t had much encouragement from surgeons – most have said that a surgery might still not be effective. If there were a sure surgical solution for sleep apnea, that would be ideal.
Overall, do you think CPAP has helped improve your life?
Absolutely. I don’t mean to sound unappreciative; I complain about the CPAP, and yet I don’t want to sleep without it. I’m not under as much daily stress as I was before.I really think the CPAP treatment has extended my life.
If you have been inspired by Fred’s story, contact us today to schedule a sleep study or to get more information.
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