I have just celebrated my 69th birthday and, knock on wood, I am healthy. However, If things didn’t happen the way they did several years ago, who knows, I may not be writing this article.
Before I remarried five years ago, I had been living alone for many years. Interestingly, when you sleep alone, there is no one to take notice of what might be happening to you while you are asleep. Are you snoring? Are you breathing? While sleeping, you have no clue. Lucky for me an out of town wedding gave me the wake up call I needed.
Hotel reservations were mixed up so I had no choice but to share a room with my son and daughter-in-law. It was awkward, but fun, the three of us together recounting how great the wedding had been. Finally, the lights went out, we said goodnight and I immediately fell asleep. I had no idea that the fun before lights out would turn in to a hell night for everyone.
All night I would awaken to my son shouting “Dad, Dad, wake up!” I don’t remember anything I said but woke up in the morning exhausted and irritated. Looking at the two of them, they looked the same. We went to breakfast together and that’s when I found out the grueling details. Apparently, not only did I snore, but I stopped breathing, apparently many times. The two of them couldn’t really sleep keeping an ear on whether I stopped breathing, and would I start again. I was embarrassed and felt bad for keeping them up all night and of course they understood. On the drive home, we laughed and I agreed to see a Doctor.
My Doctor explained the dangers of being overweight, Sleep Apnea, and how each stresses the heart. He also told me losing 25 pounds would certainly help and proceeded to make an appointment for me to spend the night in a sleep laboratory. This Doctor caught my high cholesterol problem 20 years ago, so believe me, I listen.
I checked in around 10 pm and after getting hooked-up to electrodes, I was told that the technicians would watch and monitor my actions during the night. As uncomfortable as it was lying there on a small single bed with all this wiring, I was soon fast asleep. Much to my surprise, within a couple of hours, the lights were on and they were removing the electrodes and equipment. Then it was lights out and I was back asleep.
The next morning I had a brief consultation and was told my breathing was interrupted so many time during the first couple of hours, it was not necessary to keep me hooked up to the equipment. They said my Doctor would have the results and would be in touch. When we met a few days later, he and his assistant introduced me to my new CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, and instructions on how to use it – every night!
It took some time getting used to air being forced into your lungs and getting comfortable wearing a head strap nose mask but it really does makes you feel better. Within a couple of nights I realized I wasn’t feeling tired or exhausted as I had in the past. It really has pepped me up and energized my daily performance. I feel so much better now, mentally and physically.
Do you think it is normal to wake up tired and exhausted? Why take a chance.