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Could You Have Sleep Apnea?

Some three years ago at age 80 years l was sleeping badly, waking with a sort of hangover without drinking alcohol the night before and falling asleep when sitting in a chair reading or watching television, With the condition becoming increasingly worse l consulted my Doctors but without any improvement in my condition . I undertook many tests including one for the thyroid during the first four months of 2010 and was assured that my regular medication could not be responsible. I also received assurances that no matter how old you are you should not feel tired unless you have undertaken some form of exercise. 

In May of this year l journeyed to England to visit my children having warned them of my debilitating condition and please do not arrange hectic days out. On arrival my eldest son ,Roger said  “Dad this cannot go on, it is my guess that you are suffering from Sleep Apnea and my reason for saying this is that my wife Helen had similar symptoms last year and she was quickly diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and fitted with a CPAP machine. Today she is a completely different person up with the lark and full of energy, so do not get mad at me, l have arranged for you to be seen by the Sleep Apnea consultant at Exeter hospital.” 

So said so done and my youngest brother kindly drove me the 30 miles  to keep the appointment. The consultant asked many questions of me and my wife Mary. Did l snore, was my shirt collar size 17.5 inches or larger.  To my wife he posed the question “what do you notice about your husband when he is sleeping? “- she replied “he often stops breathing and I have to shake him to wake him, when he shudders and starts breathing again.” 

Following the insertion of a camera up my nose and down my throat he announced that”yes, he thought I had a case of sleep apnea, but very mild.”  He arranged with the department of clinical measurements at The Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital to do a detailed study. This study indicated that for thirteen times in one hour I failed to produce oxygen above 84% and I was told this was the major factor in my feeling so tired.  The good news was that a CPAP machine is used to overcome two problems, Sleep Apnea and lack of Oxygen. 

The outcome of all these tests was that I was fitted with a ResMed Escape 2 CPAP machine and a full face mask.  The Chief Clinical Psychologist kindly fitted the mask and instructed me in its use.  From the time that I first used it my daytime condition improved dramatically and now 60 days later I no longer longer wake with a “hangover” nor do I fall asleep when sitting in the chair  and my energy level is vastly improved.  I need to state that I have absolutely no problem wearing the mask for 8 or 9 hours at night once I got used to it. 

The Sleep Apnea Consultant informed me that 1 in 10  of the population suffer with Sleep Apnea or Lack of Oxygen supply during their sleeping hours so I am writing this article in the hope that I can encourage those people with the symptoms I have decribed above, to get tested.   I am happy for anybody to call me in regard to the above article. My only other comment would be that my wife and I both into our 80's attend a wellness gym for one hour three times a week in an effort to stay fit and healthy and encourage others to do the same.

Member's Corner Contribution
Written by Don Hill

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