Growing up I had always been active with sports, soccer, squash, and swimming. Later on, in university, I would exercise daily at the gym, so I was in pretty good shape. By the time I was in my early thirties I had stopped going to the gym but had taken up running instead, I had even joined a running club in order to train for a half marathon, with some runs going as long as 30 kilometres. I was in great shape but I was constantly tired but didn’t understand why.
A few years later I got married, took on a larger territory in my sales position, and stopped exercising as much as I had been able to before. Life just became busy and I was finding myself constantly tired, especially during the middle of the day. I chalked it up to getting up at night and helping with the newborn baby and figured it would pass as she got older and slept through the night.
To my surprise something else started to happen, I found myself getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. My wife also started to complain that I was waking her up with my snoring. I was surprised as I never thought I snored and no one had ever complained of this before.
After months of hearing my wife complain about my snoring as well as the strange gasping sounds I made while I slept, getting up frequently to go to the bathroom, and the constant fatigue I decided that it was time to speak with my doctor. I was really surprised to hear about the snoring and the lack of energy may be due to obstructive sleep apnea. He recommended that I should get tested for obstructive sleep apnea.
I left his office with a referral to Dream Sleep Respiratory and decided to do a little research before booking my appointment with them. I was shocked to find that Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) was very common and just how many of the related symptoms mirrored my own. Apparently, the fatigue I felt during the day is commonly associated with the disruption of my sleep patterns. Who knew?
A week later I visited the Dream Sleep Clinic and one of their therapists spent time with me getting as much information as possible about what I did, how I felt, took measurements, and had me complete a survey that assisted in determining my level of fatigue. After the thorough assessment, they showed me how to use the take-home sleep recorder.
That night my wife helped me set up the recorder and I actually slept. I still got up to go to the bathroom once or twice, but that was no problem. I then took the recorder back to Dream Sleep the following day and was told I should have the results within 2-5 business days, and we would go from there.
Sure enough 2 days later I received a call from Dream Sleep Respiratory and made an appointment to review my results with one of their respiratory therapists. I was a bit nervous and at the same time glad that I would find out if I had obstructive sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome. Either way, I was determined to get it fixed as soon as possible.
I decided to go to the meeting alone, my wife offered to come with me but I thought I’d rather do it myself, at least at this stage. Thankfully the therapist was very nice, she took the time to review the results and explained the print out from my sleep recording. Yes, I had what was determined to be moderate obstructive sleep apnea with a respiratory disturbance index of 13. I learned meant that I had stopped breathing 13 times per hour on average, resulting in a drop in my blood oxygen levels significant enough to be flagged as an obstructive apnea.
What did this mean? How bad was it? And what the heck could be done to fix it, I was nervous for sure.
The therapist explained that I could be very well treated by something called CPAP therapy, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure. The therapist told me the technology had improved drastically over the past decade with the masks being very small and the machines being very quiet. Thank goodness for that bit of good news!
I booked my follow up appointment to get set upon CPAP and this time decided to bring my wife. We were both introduced to CPAP and I was fitted with a really small non-invasive and comfortable CPAP mask. The therapist called it a direct nasal mask and I knew this was the correct mask choice right away.
Once the mask had been fit, the therapist adjusted the pressure settings on the CPAP machine and asked how each setting felt until we decided what was comfortable. She said it was best that it felt natural when I took a breath and was not too little or too much pressure. She also explained that once I fell asleep the CPAP would start monitoring my breathing and make adjustments automatically. This prevented my airway from collapsing which was what caused the snoring and sleep apnea.
I was now on my way to getting back to my old self. It took a couple nights to get used to the machine, but I started to feel more rested during the day. I wasn’t getting up to use the washroom anymore and my wife was so happy to not hear my loud snoring all night.
I’m so thankful to get my life back.