All articles in Patient Stories

Patient Stories – Jim’s Story

A Sleep Apnea Chat Success

Like most persons with sleep apnea, at first I denied that I had a problem. It was my wife’s love and persistence that prevailed and finally made me seek help. I respect and applaud my wife’s insistence on having me seek treatment for my Sleep Apnea, which may have never been discovered without the help of her “online buddies.” Something she was doing for her enjoyment in an online Sleep Apnea chat certainly changed — and may have even saved — my life!

Here is my story!

Late in 1998, my wife was invited to join in on a sleep disorder chat by one of her online friends. She knew little about sleep disorders. As she watched the conversation, she began learning about sleep apnea. The more she learned, the more she saw that I fit the profile, exhibiting all or most of the symptoms.

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Patient Stories – Chuck’s Story

Coping with Narcolepsy and Sleep Apnea

Life in the School Years

As a pre-teen, I was always ‘tired’. Living in the Ohio Valley of the US Midwest — allergy capital of the country — my tendency to be tired was attributed to my high level of allergy sensitivity, as indicated through skin allergy tests. I accepted this because I was young and it was not in my mind to consider any other possibility. Nor was I old enough to disagree with my parents or a doctor.

I trudged through school, getting low marks throughout the school year, only to score extremely well on the annual standardized testing. Per the guidance of school administrators, I was run through various cognitive and psychological evaluations. All said I was fine, smart, and able minded. I never felt I was otherwise, but personally could not understand why school and I did not work well together.

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Patient Stories – Bill’s Sleep Apnea Story

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Sleep Apneics

My Mom Told Me I Snored!

Like most people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), my diagnosis was the result of a loved one telling me about my snoring. While I was visiting my parents, I fell asleep watching TV. My Mom woke me and told me I was sleeping and snoring loudly. Of course I told her I wasn’t. This went on for a year or so. When I visited my parents again, my Mom asked me if I had told my doctor I snored? I told her no.

Finally I decided to tell my primary care doctor that my Mom told me I snored. He gave me a referral for a sleep study. My neck size is larger than 17 inches; I am overweight; my sister has Sleep Apnea; and I have Type 2 Diabetes. With all these classic symptoms, I fit the typical profile of someone diagnosed with Sleep Apnea.

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Patient Stories – Sam’s Sleep Apnea Story

The Magical Mystery Medical Tour – Sam’s Long and Winding Road to Sleep Apnea

Last October 20, 2003, is a date I will never forget. Having worked my part-time job at the local hardware store, I came home to have lunch with my wife. After lunch I went into the living room to read the Sunday paper, and my next recollection is that about a dozen people (including the police, EMTs, paramedics, my fire chief and the deputy chief) were milling around trying to get some response from me.

I was rushed to the hospital with an initial diagnosis of syncope. Myriad tests were ordered (an electrocardiogram, an electroencephalogram, a CAT scan, x-rays, blood work, and a carotid doppler, among others), but there was no conclusion as to the cause of my blackout. The EEG tech suggested that I might have a sleep disorder, and I mentioned this to several of my doctors.

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Phillip’s Story – Searching for the Truth

I have no real idea how long I have had sleep apnea, but I do know that I have snored badly for at least 20 years. I hit the big 40th birthday in March of 2005, and my story goes back so far I am not sure where to start. Anxiety has been a way of life for me. While in high school, I was diagnosed with an ulcer. Continual worry was just a plague for me, and I often self-medicated my anxieties with alcohol or illegal drugs. Sleeping for me was always a problem whether it be sleeping too much or too little.

In July of 2004 things became much more serious. My anxiety turned to bad anxiety attacks and then panic attacks. My fear was death. I had chest pains, dizziness, disorientation, and a feeling like I just wasn’t living in reality. Knowing that I must be crazy, my first stab at a solution was visiting a psychiatrist (something I had done several times in the previous 20 years), and after a single 20 minute visit he determined I was bi-polar and psychotic.

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Patient Stories – Tracy ‘s Story

I believe, now, that I was born with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) it just took 35 years to figure it out!

My childhood memories and health were wonderful, but I now know there were clues to my eventually developing OSA: a short, thick neck, mouth breathing, snoring, and an obese father who snored loudly. Sleep apnea is highly hereditary. I suspect more than one of my three brothers also has sleep apnea.

I had never heard of sleep apnea nor any sleep disorder prior to diagnosis in 1989 at the age of 35. My interest in sharing this story is twofold: (1) to help others diagnosed with OSA achieve successful compliance and (2) to create OSA awareness in both the public and medical communities in an effort to promote accurate diagnosis and treatment.

The Problem Begins…

Never an obese child, I began gaining weight shortly after my marriage at age 19.

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Marilyn’s Story The Incredible Shrinking Mother

A few years ago I learned that my cousin, a newly married medical resident, was diagnosed with narcolepsy. I remember thinking, “Oh the poor guy, what a bad break”. I wondered how it was affecting his life. Little did I know that I too, had narcolepsy.

Last month, just a after my 49 th birthday, I was diagnosed with narcolepsy. I went to my family physician with concerns about forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. I also complained of feeling so weak I could barely get through the day. My husband accompanied me because my symptoms had become so severe that my family was very worried. The physician referred me for a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea as a cause. I believed that I had no trouble sleeping and my husband confirmed that I didn’t snore. I was sure the sleep study was a waste of time, but I went so that sleep apnea could be ruled out and we could find out what was really wrong with me.

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LIFE WITH A SERVICE DOG CAN BE VERY GOOD INDEED

Like many narcoleptics, my Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) became problematic when I was 15. Doctors hospitalized me then and again at age 16 to ferret out the reason for my intense need to sleep. The doctors were clueless, and simply told me to ease back on my load at school. Like the ocean’s tides, my narcolepsy ebbed and flowed in the beginning years. I married and had 3 sons. At times it greatly affected my parenting skills and life in general. Other times I was what I considered my usual spunky, energetic, happy go lucky self.

Editors note:  Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder of neurological origin, characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. It can begin at any age and continues throughout life. It frequently becomes noticeable during the teens or early twenties but it can also appear later in life. Predisposition to it seems to be hereditary. It is believed to affect approximately 1 in 2,000 people of both sexes and all races.

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Fred’s Story – Dead Man Walking One Man’s History with Severe OSA, Seizures, and GERD


In The Beginning

My life with severe OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) has been a long and challenging encounter. The earliest memorable recollection was in 1995. One morning upon awakening, my left arm, leg, face and tongue were numb and not functioning properly. This had followed many months of poor and disturbed choking sleep. Affects from acid reflux “spasms” and a prior duodenal (peptic) ulcer history and hiatal hernia also contributed to the sleeplessness. My doctor referred me to a hospital where a neurologist diagnosed TIA’s or trans ischemic attacks (mini-strokes). Slowly I recovered, with a lingering slight limp and noticeable memory loss with occasional confusion. At that time no connection was made to OSA. My days of doing the “NY Times” crossword puzzles were over.

Diagnosis and CPAP therapy

During visits by my sister, she noticed my sleep with very disturbed with gasping and thrashing along with periods of cessation of breathing.

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Tracy’s Story – Part II

Sleep Apnea after Gastric Bypass

Finding success with BiLevel and getting my life back after apnea diagnosis in 1989 was a miracle. The renewed energy gave me hope and encouragement to exercise my way back to better overall health through weight loss. My weight fluctuated like the proverbial yo-yo over the next several years. BiLevel was great but it did not cause me to lose weight as I had hoped.

I struggled with obesity most of my adult life. Born in 1954, women of my generation will remember the “diet of the month” mentality. We were on diets all the time, and most were goofy diets- what were we thinking? I remember the cabbage soup diet, the grapefruit diet; my shelves are full of diet books. I laugh now, but back then this was serious business! Oh, the havoc these silly diets reeked on our metabolism! I was a member of Weight Watchers, TOPS, I went through the Opti-Fast program two times.

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