i-find-your-lack-of-sleep-disturbing-darth-vader-pillow-550

(cough cough) Wow, it’s dusty in here. It’s been a while. But here I am! Remember me? Formerly known as Foodie McBody? I started this blog back in 2009, when I was first diagnosed with diabetes. I was freaked out. I didn’t know what to do. I felt alone and terrified. So I started this then-anonymous blog, to express all of my complex and chaotic feelings and thoughts, and to try and find community.

It was amazing to find that community, one blog at a time. My beautiful, supportive, encouraging and inspiring Fitbloggin’ friends helped me on the path to wellness. Over the next four years or so, I managed to lose weight, get my blood sugars into a good range, start running, complete my first 5k, then a 10k, then half marathons , a mud race and couple of triathlons. I filled this rack up with medals. I felt pretty freaking great, and felt like there was only one direction to go – invincible! Iron (Wo)Man!

Then I had the great, weird, freaky misfortune of jumping on a trampoline at my 25th wedding anniversary and rupturing a number of cervical discs. Months of excruciating pain, followed by spinal surgery and a long recuperation. And you know, since then, I’ve never been the same. I had little comebacks but then they were followed by disturbing counts of plantar fasciitis, hip pain, thyroid issues, weight gain, menopausal shoulder pain, YOU NAME IT. I crept away from my blog with my tail between my legs and I was on the verge of letting the domain name whither and die.

But then I remembered why I started this blog in the first place. Because I was feeling alone and afraid and embarrassed about my physical state. I felt like I sucked for “letting myself” get diabetes. I was overwhelmed and upset. And I found that the act of sharing my misery with others helped me manage it. It helped me find a way to health.

In addition to all of the lovely conditions listed above, I recently discovered, through my perceptive and wonderful doctor, that I ALSO have… ta-daa!! severe sleep apnea. Yeah.

This came, like my diabetes diagnosis, both as a shock and as a “wow, that makes some kind of bizarre sense.”

It started when my doctor was reviewing my blood test results and she noted that my hemoglobin was slightly elevated. She emailed me and said that this could sometimes indicate sleep apnea. (WHO KNEW?) And she recommended that I go to the sleep clinic for some diagnostic tests. They gave me a little device like a finger oxygen reader attached to a big watch. I was to sleep with this. They also had me fill out this questionnaire. How long did I sleep every night? 8-9 hours or more. And when was I likely to fall asleep during the day?

  • when reading a book
  • when watching TV
  • after eating a meal that didn’t include alcohol
  • when in a dark room like a theater
  • when lying down to rest
  • Etc etc etc.

Um, like ALL of those times. Seriously. “Doesn’t everyone? (apparently not) Anyway, I checked off all the boxes and gave back the apparatus, expecting that maybe I’d have a mild case.

They called me back pretty quickly and said, “You have SEVERE SLEEP APNEA” and you must come back to the clinic ASAP to discuss treatment options!” Well, I did what any 21st century patient would do. I Googled. I learned that SEVERE SLEEP APNEA, or having more than 30 respiratory interruptions per hour, puts one at a 3-4x higher risk of stroke, heart attack and other bad things. I thought, this must be some kind of mistake. 

Today I went back to get the detailed results of my assessment and to learn all about treatment options. At first, I was excited to consider the possibility that my apnea is caused by a Stuffy Nose. After all, I don’t snore (my spouse swears to this) OR sleep on my back. I have terrible allergies which always manifest in a stuffy or runny nose. Maybe if I just use a Neti Pot and some FloNase, I’ll be good to go! YAY!

(cue: sound of deflating balloon, which is the same as the sound of deflating hope)

Sorry, the respiratory therapist informed me, the NetiPot option alone only works if you have Very Mild sleep apnea. Basically, everyone in the Severe class was destined for the Darth Vader sleep mask. I looked at the plastic model heads, with the nose mask, the full face mask, and the nose pillow mask, and I had to swallow many times to keep from crying. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOO. Please, please, no. Even though some companies are trying to make CPAP look sexy, I’m not 100% convinced.

But yeah. The picture of all the times I stopped breathing during one night looked like a big blue hairy caterpillar. A normal night’s sleep has just a tiny few hairline spikes in that blue, no-breathing zone. Mine was… way more than half the night. I also learned that I spend the vast majority of my night in “light sleep” which is considered non-restorative. It’s stressing my body out, big time, causing spikes in blood sugar, increased high blood pressure and any number of other assaults.

I’m going to try to be cooperative. And calm. Even though my inner me is throwing a total tantrum, I’m gonna do my best to deal. And in the meantime, if there are any other sleep-apnea folks out there, please drop me a line. I’m looking for my community, again.

Love, Foodie McBody

 

 

 

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