As most of you know who have been following me for some time, in January 2015 I had emergency open heart surgery for an aortic dissection. It was “touch and go” for quite some time, and even now, still some lingering aftereffects as evidenced by my recent hospital stay for an additional bypass that needed to be created.
I was a “top-flight” athlete for most of my life, and even in my years of retirement, continue to work out at the gym two hours a day, five days a week. And then going for a jog on Saturdays and Sunday mornings. I always ate right (vegetarian for 35 years), and lived a very healthy lifestyle.
One thing that was the “silent killer” lurking in the background, was something that I never suspected, because I never snored, felt I was getting great quality sleep, woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go each and every day, and would constantly be on the go, full of energy, vim and vigor.
My doctor suspected that perhaps I had a sleep condition called sleep apnea.
I scheduled an appointment with a “sleep clinic” in which they wired me almost from head to toe, and had somebody visibly monitoring me throughout a night of sleep at the sleep clinic. They gathered all that data, and saw that, yes indeed, I have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea, by one measurement, is determined by “how many events per hour” (where your breathing actually stops, and you’re going through oxygen deprivation) you are having, and can only be determined by a thorough sleep test. It was determined I was having 29 events per hour, (30 events per hour, is determined to be “very serious”).
So, from that point, I was prescribed a sleep apnea machine, in which I wear a full face mask over my nostrils and mouth, and it has continuous subtle air pressure flowing through it, to keep my airways, especially in my mouth and throat, opened, so that I don’t stop breathing and create oxygen deprivation.
I have an app on my iPhone, in which I can see the results of each and every night sleep. It measures how many hours per night I’ve slept (or at least wore the mask), how many times I took off or put on the mask, and several other things.
Now, after about three years of wearing this equipment while I sleep, I’m getting to be a “real pro” at it. 100 out of 100 is a perfect score, and I’ve been able to string together 1, 2, 3 months in a row of perfect scores. That always makes me feel great!
Truthfully, I can’t tell just by my overall daily activities or energy levels, whether any of this is making a difference or not, but the feedback I get from the machine and from the app, and then of course from the sleep specialist doctors that I see once or twice a year, show that just by the fact that I am no longer interrupting my breathing, and causing oxygen deprivation, that is a much better thing for my body overall.
How many of us are suffering from sleep apnea? You don’t have to be a “snorer” that is rattling the walls and keeping everybody else awake at night, to have sleep apnea. I was never like that, and I thought everything was fine. I know a lot of my buddies, who are getting up in age, a little bit overweight, starting to suffer from health issues, almost proudly state how little they sleep, or how much they snore. Or, even worse, how tired and fatigued they are.
I’m encouraging everyone, to get out there and determine if you have sleep apnea or not. It may not present drastic and obvious changes and improvements for you, but as I mentioned earlier, it is a “silent killer” that we all need to be aware of.