Friday, January 20, 2012

My Story with Sleep Apnea

Hi, I'm Max Darkside (not my real name, but we'll go with it). I was recently diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea. Here's my story. The "Clues" are symptoms of this disorder.

I have a history of snoring (CLUE #1) and my wife told me I stopped breathing at night (CLUE #2). Over the last few years, I was getting groggier and groggier during the day (CLUE #3) to the point my work was suffering. The groggier I got, the more I smoked and drank coffee to make up for it. I have high blood pressure (CLUE #4) that just appeared one day some years ago after getting sick from stupidly drinking milk in India (another story). Then, in 2011 the arrhythmias started (CLUE #5)... heart flutters, now and then, at times. Then, on August 1st, while I was walking in a parking lot my heart started pounding and fluttering, then it stopped. Not only the fluttering stopped, but my heart. My chest started feeling like it was filling like an inflating balloon. Euphoria came over me that got stronger and stronger until I was embraced in the warm love of God Himself. The world was turning white and I fell to my hands and knees clutching my chest in complete euphoria (OMG IT WAS WONDERFUL !) and as I died, starting to roll over and succumb to the warm, embracing euphoria, I decided to fight it with all my will. I HAVE A WIFE, KIDS, and I WAS CERTAINLY NOT GOING TO DIE ALONE IN A PARKING LOT !! I fought hard to get back to my feet, I staggered... stumbled up onto my feet and the euphoria faded and my chest felt like it deflated and I felt NORMAL ! Like nothing had happened.


I went to the doctor and he called me a "flat liner", someone who had died and came back. I said I wanted a sleep study and he ordered it. They found I had moderate to severe sleep apnea and the sleep doctor / neurologist called my euphoric event a "Significant Arrhythmic Event", AKA Ventricular Fibrillation with a 99+% probability of dying when unaided.

Between the time I was diagnosed and when I got my Auto Positive Airway Pressure (APAP) machine I was yet untreated and going downhill fast. You see, sleep apnea strangles you in your sleep, a little at a time, night after night, starving your brain of oxygen. Have it severe enough, for long enough and it will do brain damage. Well, quickly I could not function at work and I was getting groggier during the day and the arrhythmias worsened. It got to the point that I was in a store with my wife and son and I wandered over one aisle and had a cognitive failure... I did not know where I was or how to get back to my wife and son. That, for me, was very scary. The next week it happened again, when I came out of a grocery store I saw a parking lot... I didn't know what a parking lot was nor did I know why it was there.  I stopped and stared. It took a few moments to realize that this is where the car is and I needed to go to the car, wherever that was.

The doctors tell me treatment for sleep apnea will help reduce the chance of another "Significant Arrhythmic Event" that might kill me next time. I hope they are right. I'm not sure though, I'm having the arrhythmias again.

On Nov. 14, 2011 I got my ResMed S9 Autoset and got therapy...

I am better at work, but I sense that I've lost some cognitive abilities. I am much better, tho still groggy each day.

3 comments:

  1. Recovering from Sleep Apnea has been a process. In the beginning I felt strangely good-terrible, then I started feeling better, over time my arrhythmias have gotten less, but I was still very groggy during the day. I may have mild narcolepsy. I monitor my data every day in the morning working to improve my sleep "hygiene" to improve sleep quality. Slowly over the last 9 months I have made progress. First I dropped analgesics (aspirin, paracetamol/Tylenol) for neuropathy body aches because they were interfering with sleep, then I stopped taking sleep aids, then stopped stimulants (caffeine, pseudo-ephedrine, ...) that I took during the day to fight the grog. I improved my diet too. Slowly I am better and better, thank you.

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  2. Max. beware of the CO2. I hd been on a CPAP for several years when I had A-fib. Same as you only different part of the heart. Not as life threatening. They were going to put me on drugs but I insisted we find the root cause. I took the CPAP in and had developed Central Apnea (just don't try to breathe). I am sure the CPAP caused it from not being tuned right.

    They tried me on a bi-PAP and although my O2 was fine, I was suffocating. Evetyone told me it was impossible to be rebreathing CO2. Did my own tests. Now do my own tuning and am actually rested when I awake. No afib.

    I had been on O2 night and day. I am now off it, and attempting to train out of the central apnea with further tuning.
    I now wear a Pulse-oximeter with alarm rather than O2 concentrator.

    I am also working for a daytime CO2 tuner.

    My oximeter software doesn't have a driver that works, so I am browsing your site. Hope to find something.

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