My name is Kim and this is me in my Darth Vader mask.
This is a Guest Post that I did for Circles of Sunshine. Since on a whole, we live such a fast paced, unhealthy lifestyle, I felt the subject of sleep apnea as it pertained to me was worth repeating here.
Actually, it's not a Darth Vader mask, it's a CPAP mask. This is the way my husband sees me before going to bed at night and this is what he wakes up too. It's not as scary as it looks. The way I spend my days today are much different than how I spent them just two months ago.
Two months ago, I would set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. just to get up at 6:00 a.m. I know it's crazy but I needed the thought of an extra hour to sleep. When the buzzer went off at 6:00 a.m.,
I would hit the snooze button at least a good three times more. Then it was up and rushing about to get ready, feed the dog, get breakfast (sometimes), coffee (always) and out the door to work.
I am a Financial Aid Counselor at UCA by day and I was a crazy driven artist by night. Most of the time everyone at my house was understanding of it, most of the time.
This is Harley, my mini schnauzer who peers over my laptop when he has clearly had enough and wants it gone from my lap.
Work is always busy, interesting, rewarding, full and a job I love . . . . and I get a paycheck!
The other job I love is being a mixed media artist. "Job" is not really a good word for doing what I love, it is more of a vacation from the stresses of life, a place that I go just for me. I don't get a paycheck, but the best things in life are free.. right? I do have an ETSY shop and there is where I showcase all the things I make and love. Usually money made there goes back into my art and charity organizations. However, making time for yourself a few hours a week doing something you love is an important neccessity of life . . . . just like breathing.
"The worm thought his Life was over,
until he became a Butterfly"
"Never give up HOPE"
"Be prepared when you pray for answers"
Back to breathing .. My husband would often wake me in the middle of the night, shaking my arm, and I vaguely recall him yelling "STOP". That was his fedup response to my loud obnoxious snoring. This happened often. Then, he would notice that I would stop breathing and would shake me again. To me, it was all the same, he was irritating me, waking me up, disturbing me and making me grumpy. As quick as I would wake up, I would go right back to sleep, leaving him less than a happy camper. I don't know how many times this poor man would do this at night, but I would only remember it occassionally. That was 6 years ago.
Yes, 6 years ago, a friend was telling her story that sounded just like mine. Her doctor insisted that she have a sleep study done. She did and it was confirmed that she indeed had obstructive sleep apnea. Upon her recommendation and "gentle" nudging from my husband to put an end to this madness, I made the appointment for a sleep study. On the night of my sleep study, I had a new technician, it did not go well. Everything that could go wrong did, from the machine not working to the latex tape blistering my skin. I know now, I am sensitive to latex tape. That week, my doctor called and confirmed (as read by the test that went wrong) that I did not have sleep apnea, I just snored. If only I knew then what I know now. If only I had been more aggressive instead of being excited that I was right. . . .sigh.
If only I had insisted that they re-do the test, but who wants to have sleep apnea?
Six years came and went FAST. Eight grandchildren later, 32 pounds heavier and noticing that I am not in very good shape. I began to notice that walking across campus, walking up stairs, I was short of breath. Did I think anything of it? Yes, I did. I thought, "girl, you have got to get this weight off of you and get back into shape". Never once did it occur to me that there might be more going on. . . . .
. . .Until, fast forward. . . 2 months ago when my heart began to race out of control, I landed in the emergency room, then the in hospital for 7 days and a heart ablation later that sleep apnea "probably" contributed too. The fact is that Sleep Apnea can cause heart damage. The doctor asked my husband if he knew that I had sleep apnea after he noticed that I quit breathing several times during my procedure. That is not a good thing during surgery or ever really. The doctor insisted as soon as I get home that I have a another sleep study done. I did immediately.
The results: I generally sleep on my side and that's what I did for the study with just a few events they call them when you stop breathing for just a few seconds. However, when I rolled over on my back the last hour of the study, I stopped breathing in that one hour over 34 times. Imagine doing that every hour for 8 hours all night long . . . for 6 years.
The first thing I did when I got home was CRY. Now, not only was I having to recover from a heart ablation gone wrong (yep, that's another story), but now I was going to have to wear this Darth Vader mask for ... ever? Who knows? Every night I put it on, I cried. There are battles to be fought and won wearing these things, but lots of people, more than I even imagined are doing it.
Then I was humbly reminded that GOD fights my battles and he goes before me. I was shamefully reminded that I almost died and didn't . Then again my life was saved by this mask that has become my bed time beauty ritual. I was reminded over and over of the times that I asked God to allow me to live long enough to enjoy my grandchildren, to dance at their weddings, to hold their first born and to see my children carry the proud torch of being proud grandparents. Did he answer my prayer, Yes, always without fail. I am still here.
Words of wisdom, "if you snore, don't ignore." If you have insurance, most all insurance pays for sleep studies and even the medical supplies afterwards. The benefits outweigh all the alternatives. Don't go by the questions about sleep apnea. I did not fit them at all. I never woke up gasping for air, I fell into that percentage of people who just did not wake up.
WAKE UP CALL:
When I quit crying and complaining, I actually realized that I was getting right up in the mornings when the alarm went off. No more snooze button. I actually feel rested. I always thought I was just not a morning person. Not true, I was just a person who was not sleeping. Now, I am a person who is learning to take better care of herself. That's my part of the deal.
The Good News! There is nothing wrong with having a pity party. It can actually be a healing event as long as you snap out of it! Today, I am better. I am here and I spend my days being more grateful. I also have a new found respect for all the trials that my husband has been through in the 12 years of his on going health issues. Courage, .. I am a whimp.
I am bad patient. I know I am blessed and I still have my days which will pass, but when the clouds part, I know where the light comes from and I am thankful that it shines on me.
"The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you nor forsake. Do not fear or be dismayed."
"If you snore, don't ignore! "