I apologize for how long this post is, but if someone who reads it goes and fights harder to get their solution, it’s worth it. This is my unusual journey, and transition to CPAP therapy.
I knew 7 years ago something was wrong. I slept ALL the time, but felt like I never went to sleep. I acquired out of the blue an anxiety disorder, suddenly had high blood pressure, and constant headaches. My family bitched at me constantly that my snoring kept them up, and would wake me up to silence me if I went to sleep before them. It got to the point I was paranoid every time I fell asleep, and embarrassed if I feel asleep around anyone.
After a few months I had enough and I finally convinced my doctor at the time to do a sleep study and it came back inconclusive. Rather then repeat it he declared my diet and lifestyle to be my problem, informed me females don’t have sleep issues just emotional issues, put me on sleeping pills and anxiety drugs and ended the subject.
I accepted that I would always be exhausted, have headaches and high blood pressure, increased anxiety, poor focus, and struggle with daily life forever and moved on as best I could. Often resorting to energy drinks, caffeine pills and other OTC supplements to get through the day.
In July 2019 my 6+ daily energy drinks I had been using to keep awake caught up with me and I had a minor cardiovascular event. I cut back to 2 a day, but started struggling at work again and drifted back up to 4. In October I had a second minor cardiovascular event and my current doctor demanded I decide between the caffeine or my life. She stated that I needed to sleep more and cut out the caffeine completely, or find a new Doctor as she would not be party to my willful self destruction. Its important to note I never told her about my sleep issues as I was unwilling to go back on sleeping pills and believed that was what she would do.
I cut all caffeine from my diet the next day, went through caffeine withdrawals, struggled nonstop to stay awake and pounded freezing cold water to stay alert. In December 2019 my exhaustion caused me to doze off at work for the first time and, given my career, scared the hell out of me. I also found myself at risk of losing my job or causing injury to someone if it happened again so I went to my Doctor. I told her my story, the failure of a sleep study, and that I really didn’t want to go on pills if avoidable but something had to give. After a brief exam she sent me for a new sleep study.
I had my first sleep study in February and embarked on the fight to get a titration (with my dr backing me) as my AHI number was barely in the beginning range. My doctor backed me as she said that on paper I was text book for someone suffering severely from sleep apnea, and the low number doesn’t mean its not destroying my life.
My machine arrived on the 14th of this month, I set it up and began using it that night. I have to say my life has been drastically different. I no longer sleep every available minute, my usual of 5 hours I slept most of my early life is again sufficient. My blood pressure is already reducing, my resting heart rate is improving and my anxiety and depression are yet to spike.
Best of all I’m seeing drastic improvements in my memory problems, which I had thought to be due to my minor traumatic brain injury from a car wreck 5 years ago where I fell asleep behind the wheel at 70mph and hit a tree.
I was nervous about the machine and mask, as my pressure is pretty high and I’ve heard and read all these horrible stories about how people spend years trying to get used to their CPAP. From the first night I set it up, put on my mask, struggled a little to fall asleep, and then woke up to the sunrise. I slept 6.5 hours with a 100% mask fit. I considered it a fluke but night 2 and 3 the same thing. I did notice a tension headache at the base of my neck, and mentioned it to the follow up call from the respiratory therapist. She asked about my mask fit and I admitted I had to pull the straps pretty tight since there was a lot of room. She overnighted me a smaller mask and now that headache is long gone.
I took a nap yesterday without my CPAP on as I didn’t think a nap warranted my mask and when I woke up I felt like complete crap (confirming my improvements has been this miracle machine).
My only issue with my CPAP is that I accepted my original doctor’s decision that there was nothing wrong and didn’t fight harder to figure out why I never woke up feeling like I had slept. If someone is sleeping 12hrs and waking up feeling like they never went to bed, there is something VERY wrong and its not the ability to sleep. Its the ability to have RESTFUL sleep.