Saturday, July 29, 2006

To sleep, perchance to breathe: a boring but informative update on my adventures in sleep apnea

Note: If I've already told you the results of my doctor's visit you can skip most of this post. You've heard all this before! Also, other than a fun asleep-at-the-wheel graphic, I haven't even attempted to be wry, witty, sarcastic, or humorous in any way.

I knew the night of the sleep study that I had Obstructive Sleep Apnea (hereinafter OSA) but didn't know the severity. A couple of weeks ago, I got this in the mail:

So, now I knew I had "moderately severe" sleep apnea which shot my hopes of non-CPAP treatment out of the water and that I needed to get in to the doctor so I could move forward to the next steps which would more than likely include another night at the sleep center for a full night on the CPAP.

According to my doctor, I was having an average of 16 apnea/hypopnea events per hour. (Hypopnea is when you stop breathing for less than 10 seconds as opposed to the apnea where you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more.) When I was lying on my back, the "events" increased to 22 per hour. My oxygen saturation dipped as low as 90%. Now, I didn't think that was bad because my internet research indicated that it could go well below that. I said to the doctor, "That's not that bad," and he shot me a look that said, "It's bad enough, lady."

I was also diagnosed with mild Periodic Limb Movement Disorder and mild Delayed Sleep Phase. PLMD is when you limbs thrash about in your sleep and rouse you from your good sleep. So, it has a similar effect as apnea but at least you are breathing. It was recommended that I monitor my caffeine intake as it could make the PLMD worse. Delayed Sleep Phase is merely that I go to sleep later than the average person and, if possible, sleep in later. It isn't not a big deal, especially because when I filled out the questionnaire which led to this diagnosis, I was having a lot of interrupted sleep and so I was sleeping in when I could. With the onset of swim lessons for Marley and summer school for Colin, I have had to get up earlier and so have also gone to bed earlier.

So, the complete recommendations are that I lose weight and start CPAP therapy. I was given a prescription to Rhinocort to help with congestion. This should help me tolerate the machine better. The most interesting little bit was my doctor's telling me not to drive after 4 pm until I begin my CPAP treatment.

Because of the suspicion that many, many car accidents are caused by people nodding off at the wheel, the doctor was very serious about me not driving in the later afternoon. So, I should have my CPAP in 3-4 weeks and I live close to a lot of things, I have people who can give me rides if I need it, Paul will only be gone about 6 days during that time. I can live with the restriction for that long.

So, that wraps up the update. Thanks to everyone who has made sympathetic noises and sent up prayers for me. They are much appreciated.

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