Thursday, March 4, 2010

Zzzzzz.... huh? .... Continued

So... I was writing about sleeping. And, ironically, after trying to go to bed early that night, I was still awake at 2 am, watching reruns of Law & Order: SVU. Sometimes, I get a bit of insomnia just to spice things up. Thankfully SVU or the original L & O is always on when you need it.

But usually, it's sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care. Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleepy sleep sleep. Mmm... Yeah, sometimes I used to sleep an extra hour in the morning as an escape from stress and strain, a way of procrastinating, a sheer indulgence. But a lot of times I was just knocked out.

When BBKS struck me, the compulsion to sleep became overwhelming much of the time. I would have to pull over sometimes in the middle of my drive to work and nap in Fremont or Hayward. A couple times I had to lie down under my desk at work,not to be a slacker (cause that's why God invented the internet), but because sitting upright was just impossibly difficult.

As an overweight, extremely fatigued person, I suspected sleep apnea pretty early on, but my caring HMO decided not to test me until I insisted. Sure enough, I was either not breathing or struggling to breathe some 23 times an hour. This is only moderate sleep apnea; some people have it much worse than that. Mostly it was struggling to breathe, or hypopnea, not the more serious apnea, where the airway completely closes. But it explained why I've been a loud snorer and long sleeper, and someone who woke up with headaches thinking that was just a normal way to wake up.

I don't know how long I had the apnea, but people have been begging not to room with me since I was at least 15. And I don't think I suddenly developed sleep apnea and that it then suddenly caused BBKS. My hypothesis is that the ongoing apnea worsened as I gained weight back, and then I had a ton of stress that I couldn't recover from, because I wasn't getting any actual restorative sleep. It all culminated in a kind of multi-systemic overload.

So anyhow. By the time I got diagnosed the BBKS was starting to recede. I was working full-time, able to socialize, able to run errands and do housework, even go through the exhausting process of buying a house and moving. I was still pretty wiped out some days, but I knew I was getting better. I had hopes that fixing the sleep apnea would catapult me into actual wellness.

A few more wrangles with the HMO and I ended up with an extra-fancy Auto-Positive-Airway-Pressure machine with a warmed humidifier and a tube connected to a "sleep mask" with "nasal pillows." I call the whole setup the "nose hose," and believe me, it's incredibly attractive. Oh, and I had to pay for it myself because of my crap health insurance.

It took me several months to get used to sleeping with this thing on my head and having air blowing up my nose all night. But lo and behold, it started to work. I started to wake up some mornings feeling strange. After a while I identified that feeling as "alertness." The morning headaches became less frequent. Sometimes I'd find myself bouncing on my toes a bit as I waited for my tea water to boil. After about six months I noticed that a night without the nose hose left me feeling hoarse and a little groggy. Two nights without it and I'd really be dragging. It was definitely working, and the little efficacy data menu on the APAP machine showed my apnea-hypopnea index going down from 23 to 6 or 7.

So if you're an overweight (or even underweight) snoring person who wakes up with headaches and feels tired all the damn time, do yourself a favor and get tested.

Next up: It ain't no silver bullet.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy your post labels - they are funny and to the point. I'm thinking of asking my husband if he feels this way about sleeping - he's a bad snorer and seems more tired than he should be. Glad you are feeling better, though.