Sleep Apnea Survivor
Almost two years ago a friend and my wife saved my life. They got me to go see a doctor because my sleep was a mix of bone rattling snores, deathly silence, and gasps for air. If this sounds like someone you know, help save a life.
I should have listened to her
She wouldn’t say “I told you so” but I am certainly guilty of not following my wife’s advice several years ago to go see a doctor because I snored so loudly.
I should have had more empathy for her situation, struggling to get sleep next to a roaring locomotive. Some nights she would go sleep in another room so she could be rested enough in the morning to go to work.
Resorting to the bathtub
Then there was a night in Lansing Michigan where I shared a hotel room with three friends while attending a tech conference. In the morning I found one of them sleeping in the bathtub, another with headphones on, and the other with his head wrapped tightly in a pillow.
When they woke up they were exhausted, trying to laugh it off in order to resist the urge to kill me (something discussed during the night). They described my sleep as snores loud enough to shake both beds in the room, interspersed with moments of sweet blissful silence, followed by sucking gasps for air.
Death as a motivator
Through all of this I still hadn’t taken the time to see a doctor. I didn’t think the snoring and silence were affecting my daily life, I wasn’t tired during the day, and going to see a doctor was a pain and would cost a lot of money.
Plus I had read up on sleep apnea treatments online and the thought of wearing a mask at night sounded awful. It seemed like all my searching just turned up stories of abandoned CPAP machines.
Finally a friend and coworker told me how his father went to bed one night and never woke up the next day and sleep apnea was the likely cause. This was the motivation I needed to finally go see a doctor.
In the spring of 2012 I had my first sleep study. I walked the two blocks from our home in Elkhart to the hospital, where they set me up in a small room that looked like a hotel room. Before going to bed they connected two dozen sensors to my head, chest, and legs.
About 6 hours laster I woke up to go to the bathroom and they said they had enough data and sent me home. They told me I would hear back from the doctor in about two weeks.
You are not my patient
The afternoon after the sleep study I received a call from the doctors office asking if I could come in the next day. This was a surprise but I guessed the doctors business was just running a little slow so the sooner they got me in the faster they could collect their money.
I arrived at the doctors office the next day, they took my weight, showed me into a small room, and then the nurse had me do the Epworth test and said the doctor would be in shortly.
When the doctor entered the room he looked up from my chart, concern on his face, then did a double take when he saw me. He looked as if he was about to turn and leave but asked “are you Jon Hoyt”? I answered yes and the concern on his face turned to a look of confusion, but he sat down and the appointment proceeded.
He explained that based on my study he was expecting a seriously overweight and exhausted male, someone over 300 pounds that looked like they hadn’t slept in years.
This is when I learned just how close I came to death every night. The doctor explained that I stopped breathing 70 times per hour on average and my brain had to wake up just enough to kick start my breathing every time. This also meant I rarely, if ever, got the deep sleep we need to be truly rested.
The doctor prescribed a CPAP machine and another sleep study to get the machine configured to the right settings to help me overcome my severe sleep apnea.
10X your life
Within a week of getting the CPAP my life and my wife’s were completely changed. She was no longer fighting with the locomotive next to her and I was getting the deepest and most restful sleep I’d had in a decade.
I went from 8-10 hours of sleep per night (I sleep without an alarm clock) to 6-8 hours of sleep per night and felt more rested and smarter. Yup, I felt smarter. I could reason out harder problems while programming, I could retain more information throughout the day, and I could communicate more easily at work.
Almost two years later I can’t imagine life without my CPAP. So cheers to life, to sleep!