Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Are you always tired? How I came back to life!
I'm not someone who falls asleep at the movies or on transportation. A movie can be really boring and I'm still sitting there taking it in. I don't sleep on transportation either - I didn't even sleep on a trip all the way to Australia. It just isn't me. Then something strange started happening....
I'd be watching a movie and I suddenly couldn't control my sleepiness. My head would start to fall forward even when I was engaged in the movie or a play. I feel like I didn't even see a couple of the movies or plays I was at the theatre for. Then on transportation I started falling asleep. Any distance in the car would suddenly have me nodding off and snoring for a moment. I fell asleep on a plane and was making so much snoring noise that two young girls took my picuture! embarassing but true.
I kept thinking it was my crazy sleep schedule. I would often say up late to midnight then get up early (or later on when I wasn't working sleep in late). This even started to affect my work life. I would be sitting looking at the computer and my head would start to fall forward. I could just stare at the computer. I even got in trouble because I got sleepy in a meeting at work (with the lights off) in the conference room. I think this contributed to me resigning my position at my previous company.
When I took trips with my friends they were alarmed because I stopped breathing in the middle of the night and would gasp for breath. (My mouth would be very dry in the mornings & I would have a slight headache) My friend noticed the gasping when I stayed over night at his house, he told me "I think you have sleep apnea". I had told my Doctor about being tired but once I mentioned sleep apnea he sent me for a sleep test.
The sleep test is a unique experience. It was in a nice hotel off of Michigan Ave where one entire floor of rooms are set up for sleep studies. They put you in a normal hotel room except there is a camera in the corner watching every move you make, they hook you up to a bunch of wires all over your body and then watch you sleep. After awhile (a couple hours?) they woke me up and told me I needed to use a machine to breathe so they hooked a machine up with a mask over my nose and mouth. Then I was back to sleep again. They woke me up very early (Like 5am or something) and sent me home. The report showed I DID have sleep apnea and I needed a machine to wear at night to breathe.
I received the CPAP machine in the mail. It is a machine about the size of a small loaf of bread with a big hose like thing attached (remember those old hair dryers?) and a mask to go over your face. (some go on both nose and mouth, mine is nose only) I didn't want to use it at first, I don't like things touching me while I'm sleeping but I was getting more miserable with the situation. I started using it on and off. I started noticing that when I used the machine I didn't have a headache and I had more energy. (Finally getting the REM sleep that everybody needs - the restorative sleep) It's weird to have it on at first and you do kinda look like a science fiction monster.
I eventually got used to it and started to use it every night. My whole life started to change. Suddenly I felt good again. No sleepiness, no dry mouth, no headache and an abundance of energy. I even started working out again because I didn't feel so tired anymore. I could go to the movies and pay attention again, Every car ride wasn't nap time. It was very much like coming alive again. I realized that I had not really been sleeping all those months - it was like putting in the bare minimum of fuel in a car and running on fumes.
Now I take my machine everywhere and I'm not embarassed by it at all. I took it to my friends beach house when I slept on the couch, I take it home with me when I visit my parents and I even take it on flights with me. (Airlines know them well) Since I've had it I have even started to meet others with the problem or everyone seems to know someone. (Even Rosie O'Donnell uses a CPAP to sleep)
I wanted to write this blog because had my friends not alerted me and I hadn't told my Doctor this would have kept going on and on. It was ruining the quality of my life and I didn't know it.
If you think you are having any of these symptoms please tell your Doctor right away. Now when I take a nap it's because I want to, not because I have to.