It has been our pleasure to have TASjoe as part of our chat host team. We all came to know Joe first as a frequent participant in our chat rooms. It became quite clear that Joe was a successful CPAP user and was eager to share his experiences with the other participants. You see, Joe was an admitted stubborn man who denied his apnea condition for a long time. He credits his caring wife for his eventual diagnosis. Like so many, once CPAP treatment worked, it changed his life. Joe wanted to encourage other stubborn people in denial to seek diagnosis as well as helping to encourage the newly diagnosed to work hard at finding compliance. Joe was so helpful to others that he was soon asked to join the TAS chat host team. He remains a vocal and inspirational sleep apnea advocate. Join in TASjoe's chat on Monday evenings - Tracy Nasca, Vice President, Talk About Sleep
We asked Joe to share the story of his OSA journey:
In 1996 my wife completed classes in sleep technology and EEG studies. I had been to a few office parties with the people my wife worked with including Dr. Burton Mark, who would become my first sleep doctor. Back then all I saw was the cash register ringing at the sleep lab; I looked at Sleep Apnea as one of the latest 'yuppie diseases'. To me it was something you could talk to your friends with over a bottle of wine and whine about. It appeared to me to be one of the biggest money making schemes yet in the medical field.
Well, I'm here to tell you, I WAS WRONG. In September of 1999 I accompanied my wife to her appointment with our Primary Care Physician, our doctor for over 30 years. Midway through my wife's exam she asked him if he would write a script for me to have a sleep study done. My wife had never mentioned to me that she thought I had a sleep disorder. He took the stethoscope out of his ears, looked at my wife and asked her if she thought I had Sleep Apnea. My wife replied yes she thought so. He walked out of the exam room and returned with a script for a sleep study, which he promptly stuck in my shirt pocket and told me to schedule a study as soon as possible. Our doctor suffered a stroke a few months prior and afterward had a sleep study done only to find out he had OSA himself. He explained to me that he didn't want me to go through the same medical difficulties.
Two nights later I had a full nights study and returned in 3 days for my titration study. As it turned out I did have OSA. The morning following my titration and I went home with a CPAP and mask. Needless to say, it was a bit hard to get used to wearing a mask. I had to wear it fairly tight to eliminate leaks which caused pressure sores on the bridge of my nose, but I stuck it out.
The first night I used the CPAP was really difficult, but when I awoke in the morning I had more energy and less fatigue than I had had in years. Prior to using CPAP I would set 3 alarm clocks every night, spaced 10 minutes apart, to make sure I could get up in the morning. Sometimes that didn't even work and there were days that I could only work 4-5 hrs because of my fatigue. Today I don't even use an alarm clock. I turn in between 11-12 PM and wake up without an alarm clock by 7AM every morning.
The CPAP gave me my life back. I also noticed that I wasn't sick as often as I was prior to "going on the Hose" as I call it. I look at it as a miraculous machine. It made me a believer in OSA and CPAP treatment.
Since I started on CPAP in 1999, I helped start and managed a sleep apnea support group at one of the local hospitals for over 5 years. I found the talk about sleep web site and began participating in their apnea chats. I joined the volunteer staff at TAS in 2001. I think of it as, PAYBACK because I was not a believer. I sure am now and will continue to do whatever I can to help educate as many people as possible to the seriousness of OSA and CPAP treatment.
There are now two sleep technicians in my family. My daughter passed her national boards last year so our whole family is now involved in sleep medicine and education.
I consider my self very lucky to have been diagnosed 8 years ago. I truly believe that if I had not gone for that first sleep study I wouldn't be here now helping my fellow Hoseheads along the way to PAPiness and a much better quality of life.