In March of this year, I was diagnosed with (OSA) Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. While I was relieved that I had an explanation for the sleep issues it also freaked me out as I knew it would mean having to use a (CPAP) Continuous Positive Airways Pressure Machine to help me sleep! This post sets the scene of how it developed while my second post, (due to be published over the next few days), I share what sleep apnoea is, the ups and downs of trialling a CPAP machine and the changes it had made to my life and why I am even more passionate about my health and wellbeing!
Wake Up Call
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and in my case, the situation could have been resolved earlier if I had listened to the messages my body had been sending me. When you are so disconnected from your body, you brush off symptoms and ignore your inner voice telling you that what you are feeling isn’t right. However, 2018/2019 became my wake up call as ironic as it was to sort my crap out and make my health and wellbeing a priority! My rock-bottom moment happened on the 20th of February 2019, when I found myself being weighed by a nurse at the respiratory outpatient’s clinic. When I saw the number on the scale, I was shocked and angry with myself, and as the tears rolled down my face, I wondered how the hell had I managed to let things slide so much? (I will write about my weight loss journey in another post in future). It took me a few weeks later to realise that sleep is one of the pillars of health and wellbeing and sleep is something I will never take for granted again.
If I had to pinpoint a moment in time when I could have listened to that inner voice, sending me a message, it would be back in October 2017 on the second day of our three week holiday in Canada, I ended up with insomnia which took another three weeks once we came back from Canada to overcome. Then I ended up spending a lot of time sitting on my ass after my fall in late November; initially, it was to keep my leg elevated, and later the moonboot became cumbersome, so it was easier to sit down rather than walk. No longer needing the moonboot, I found myself waking up a few times a night to go to the bathroom; however I would fall straight back to sleep, gradually the number of times I would wake up would increase. Some nights I could wake from 5 to 8 times, a bad night which happened often would see me waking on the hour every hour! A good night for me would be once or twice a night. The continual waking became my new normal, and I had convinced myself that what I was experiencing was due to peri-menopause.
Around November 2018, I was exercising five times a week and had noticed that instead of feeling energised, I was feeling tired all the time. I found myself nodding off while reading or watching T.V. sometimes I would fall asleep and not know that I had until I had woken up. These naps would be anywhere from 5 minutes in duration to 20 minutes or even two hours and more than often it was while I was sitting upright. Then there was the snoring! Mike used to call my snoring “princess snores”. Well, those princess snores over time transformed into loud scary dragon snores! There was no longer a princess in our castle anymore. I remember my mum commenting during a stay that she could hear me snoring from her bedroom, which was located further down the hall and her door was closed! When I would wake up in the morning, I felt tired! Bone tired! After a few months of this, I felt like I was walking in wet concrete all the time! Some nights I would be in bed by 8.00pm and other nights 11.00pm! I no longer had a regular bedtime or wake up time. During this time, I tried several natural remedies as well as meditation, my Shakti mat, and none of these things made a difference. I had no issues with falling asleep I would joke that it was my “superpower” as I could fall asleep in an instant! The problem was that I was no longer sleeping solidly throughout the night.
After eleven months, my sleep issues were getting worse, my mood would vary depending on how much sleep I had, I craved carbohydrates all the time, and nothing satisfied me. I then thought that perhaps my iron levels were low again, so I made an appointment to see my GP. That inner voice kept whispering to me that maybe what I was experiencing was sleep apnoea.
Towards the end of November, I saw my GP and mentioned feeling tired all the time and that I would fall asleep at any time throughout the day, and yet when I went to bed I had issues with broken sleep! I explained that I was exercising five days a week, yet instead of feeling energised, I always felt tired. My GP ordered a blood test and got me to fill in a form about sleep issues; each answer had a score attributed to it. I scored highly enough for her to think that I might have sleep apnoea, and she sent a referral to the sleep clinic. In the meantime, my blood test results came back, and my irons levels were normal, which bothered me, as I was hoping it would be that and not the possibility of sleep apnoea.
In February I saw the specialist who made me complete the same form that my GP had used, once again I scored highly and after an examination of my throat, breathing and measurements of my neck and answering his questions, he felt that I had sleep apnoea, however, I would have to have a sleep trial to confirm this. A few weeks later, I found myself wired up and ready for a sleep trial at home. The data obtained was sent to the clinic to analyse. I was more worried that they wouldn’t have enough data to make a diagnosis and that maybe my sleep issues were peri-menopausal. A week later, I had a follow-up appointment, and the sleep psychologist confirmed I had sleep apnoea. While I felt relieved that I had a diagnosis, I was also disappointed that this is what I had as I knew what would be coming next!