From Where I Sit – Ignorance or Apathy

Have you ever slept with someone who snores? Have you been tempted to smother said person with a pillow, to once and for all, get some blessed silence? Do you have the misfortune of being the one who doesn’t fall asleep first? Have you stared at the ceiling hoping for a break in the rumbling long enough to allow you to drift off? Have you jabbed the offender in the ribs or snarled ?turn over? to get him to stop?

A couple of years ago, when I could no longer stand it, I nagged Roy into getting a referral for a sleep study. It wasn’t a totally selfish act. With a family history that includes both parents dying of heart disease and his own hypertension since age thirty, the risks of untreated sleep apnea are real.

The study involved being hooked up to a machine for a minimum of five hours of sleep. The computer inside it measures oxygen saturation, snoring, and sleep disturbances. In 2014, on the classification of Sleep Apnea (Apnea-Hypopnea Index), Roy had mild sleep apnea. In his case, it was five stoppages per hour. The suggested treatment was being fitted with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Two years later he’s yet to follow through. Cue the snoring and likely a worsened condition.

A few weeks ago as I was meeting with a nurse about something else I mentioned that my nights were hell because I have to pee several times a night. ?Have you ever been checked for sleep apnea?? she said. Huh? No. She said frequent nocturnal urination is a symptom. Instead of the body waking up because I’ve got to pee, it says ?I’m awake so I might as well pee.?

Well, son-of-a-gun. I got the referral, did the sleep study, and found that my sleep apnea is twice as bad as Roy?s. Nearly ten stoppages per hour. For the last three weeks or so, I’ve been using a loaner CPAP machine and trying out different masks. From the very first night, I’ve been sold on this solution. My results are not the usual ones. Most people have some difficulty getting used to the thing. I’ve eliminated some mask styles because they aren’t comfortable and may end up with the first one I tried. At each follow-up appointment the respiratory therapist uploads the data from the sim card and analyzes the results. In week one, the apneas were reduced to less than four. Since then the results have been as low as two per hour. Peeing once or twice a night is manageable.

So, my lovelies, be aware that untreated sleep apnea is very dangerous to your health and well-being. Symptoms include lack of energy, morning headaches, hypertension, frequent nocturnal urination, depression, obesity, large neck size, excessive daytime sleepiness, nighttime gasping, choking or coughing, reflux, and snoring. It is largely undiagnosed and takes a tremendous toll. don’t let ignorance or apathy stand in the way of diagnosis or treatment, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.

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