All articles in Patient Stories

Patient Stories – Trevor’s Sleep Apnoea Story “Snoring and Apnoea in England”

(Editor’s Note: Trevor lives in England, where the word “apnea” is spelled “apnoea” and a doctor’s office is referred to as his “surgery”. His story, while uniquely his, is also universal. It particularly points out the impact that snoring and sleep apnoea can have on a relationship.)

I am a forty-two-year-old, single, divorced male. I could do with losing a few pounds, but I’m not particularly overweight and certainly not obese, factors normally associated with sleep apnoea and snoring. I have been a chronic snorer for as long as I can remember.

My earliest snoring memories are from my school days. At the age of eight I went to a school camp and shared a tent with seven other lads. My tent mates told me in no uncertain terms that I was a very loud snorer! I also shared a room at home with my two brothers, who both resorted to wearing earplugs at night.

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Patient Stories – Pam’s Story

Sleep Apnea very nearly cost me my life. I was the first woman diagnosed with Sleep Apnea in the state of Missouri in 1989. The period from 5 years previous to my diagnosis is a vague blur of memories. I walked around in a sleep-deprived daze.

By sheer will power I forced myself to care for my son. Because of this illness my marriage fell apart, ruined my 10 year teaching career, almost killed myself falling asleep at the wheel of my car, gained over 100 lbs. and developed a serious self concept problem.

That is exactly how sleep apnea works. It comes upon you gradually; first the snoring and the interrupted sleep, the inability to concentrate, the weight gain, the extreme fatigue, the irritability until you are unable to recognize yourself when you look in the mirror.

I knew there was some kind of problem. I went to doctor after doctor.

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Patient Stories – Neil’s Story

A Long Time Snorer Finds Relief and a Good Night’s Sleep!

My Snoring Was a Problem

For thirty years family, friends, and roommates told me that I had a snoring problem. As far back as I can remember I was told I snored, so later when roommates informed me that I was rattling the walls, I shrugged it off and figured they were being overly sensitive. Not until I got married and my wife made the same observation to me did I begin to take notice.

She not only mentioned the snoring, but she informed me of something no one else had told me before — I would actually stop breathing, repeatedly, throughout the night. She described a cycle of stopped breathing, choking and gasping for air, and tossing and turning that repeated throughout the night. One night she even recorded me on a tape recorder to prove to me how bad it was.

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Patient Stories – Mike’s Story

Sleepy Teacher Wakes Up to Sleep Apnea

I Had All the Symptoms

There I was: male, 50ish, 50 pounds overweight, size 18-1/2 neck. I had high blood pressure and acid reflux with heartburn. My wife said not only did I snore like a hog, I choked, gasped, snorted and gurgled, and then would suddenly quit it all until I started again with a choking gasp. She also complained that I tossed and turned and kicked all night.

For years I had been getting sleepier and sleepier. I went to bed early, but woke up the next morning feeling dragged out and unrested. I used to sit on the edge of the bed in the morning and count the hours till I could take a nap. I fell asleep at work, and I am a teacher. I had 32 beady little pairs of eyes just waiting for me to nod off! I fell asleep during the 5 o’clock news.

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Patient Stories – Mary’s Story

Happy PAPday to me, Happy PAPday to me, Happy PAPday to me, it’s my second anniversary!!

I woke up this morning at 6:30 am. It’s a weekend, I could have slept in, but eight hours of quiet restful sleep is all I need. I will be energetic, alert and feeling great all day. I will work some, play some, and enjoy my health, my family and my home.

This is a stark contrast to life, as I knew it before cpap. I remember the day I finally received my precious cpap machine.

I lay in bed in that foggy state, not really asleep, not fully awake. My chest ached with that dull ache that had become all too familiar. It’s the same ache that had made me contemplate whether I could be having a heart attack more than one morning in the last few months.

It’s the ache that had caused me to try taking one of my husbands’ nitroglycerin tablets at least three mornings.

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Patient Stories – Marge’s Story

A Teacher’s Story of Life Threatening Sleep Apnea

Having had sleep apnea for a long, long time, I was not officially diagnosed until August 1999. Since then, I have been successfully treated with CPAP. This school term, I will be celebrating thirty years of teaching.

Shortly after graduating from college in 1971, I returned to live in my parents’ home. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, choking and gasping for air! My Dad insisted I go to the doctor. That doctor told me I had a thick neck and his prescription was, “lose weight and use two pillows”.

I spent the next twenty plus years dedicating my life to teaching, volunteer work and traveling. My traveling companion and I used to joke about my snoring. She told me I often stopped breathing. It never bothered me in the daytime, so I was not concerned about it and we continued to laugh about my snoring.

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Patient Stories – Liz’s Story

A Family Legacy

Does obstructive sleep apnea run in families? In mine it does a marathon!

First, My Diagnosis

I had been to the doctor so many times complaining of exhaustion over the years, I wondered if my chart must not have some notation of hypochondria in it! After all, the tests always came back normal, and we had checked everything–thyroid, chem.-20, hormones, allergies, EKG–what else could we possibly check this time, that we hadn’t done before? I was just fat, forty-something and fatigued.

“Lose weight, don’t smoke, exercise”. For this, doctors go to school for how many years? Learned all that in fifth grade health class, didn’t we? If all my tests were so normal, why did I feel so awful?

Falling asleep every time I sat down–in front of the TV, at my desk, in meetings. Sleeping 16 hours a day and still feeling exhausted wasn’t normal. If menopause accounted for the waking up in a stupor with a sweaty gown, wet hair, a dry mouth, and drool on the pillow, ok; but how many years does this little party last?

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Patient Stories – Lee Ann’s Story

It Could Save Your Life

I am a 58 year old woman and I was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy in 1991. It was a moderate case but over the years, even with medication, had worsened somewhat. I felt reasonably well except for being sleepy all the time. I could go to sleep at a stop light, reading a book, in the middle of a conversation, etc. Anytime, anywhere, I would nod off. This had been going on for 15 or 20 years.

Finally in October 2000, a doctor sent me for a sleep study. I quit breathing numerous times, one time for almost 2 minutes, and woke repeatedly. Before they “woke” me to put a mask on, I never did get to the REM sleep mode.

Since then, I have slept with a mask and CPAP machine every night. It took a couple of weeks to notice a difference, but then the difference was amazing.

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Patient Stories – Lauren’s Sleep Apnea Story

The Aftermath of a Missed Diagnosis

Editor’s Note: In January 1997, Lauren (a 37 year old woman) began treatment with CPAP. About one week later, she wrote the following description of her frustrating experiences in seeking a diagnosis, which has been edited for publication.

Going to the Doctor

It was February 1995 when I first spoke with my doctor about the possibility that I had sleep apnea. He did not think I did. It was two long years before I sought a second opinion. During my initial visit with Dr. R, she immediately referred me for an overnight sleep study. Soon after my sleep study, I was put on CPAP and began to recover from years of severe sleep deprivation.

I couldn’t remember the time frame, but Dr. R confirmed that my doctor had documented my request for a sleep study in February 1995. That means that I have spent the last two years suffering needlessly, unable to function, virtually sleeping my life away.

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Patient Stories – Kathy’s Sleep Apnea Story

Recovery Room Apnea Diagnosis

CPAP in the Recovery Room

Being diagnosed with sleep apnea was, for me, a slightly scary experience. I had surgery at age 39 on September 24, 1999 and woke up in the recovery room with this mask on my face that wasn’t an oxygen mask, and a machine blowing cold air at me. Having been through nursing school and doing a clinical day in both the OR and the recovery room, I knew this was not normal. They say that having a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. They are right. At least it was for me.

Now, I am not a small woman. On the contrary, I weighed almost 500 lbs. when I had surgery and I feel compelled to tell you that I did not have weight loss surgery, nor would I consider such at this time. The success rate isn’t good enough for me to consider it.

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