Today has been a benchmark day and appropriately so, given the fact that it is the birthday of my late brother. I will figure that he somehow played a role if none other than to simply cast some good luck my way.
I have had what is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea for about 40 years now. Many, many people have this ailment that deprives its victims from ever having a good night’s sleep. The basics of sleep apnea go like this. I fall asleep. As my body relaxes many muscles go limp. My tongue also relaxes, so much so that it drops down and closes off my airway. In due time, my brain realizes it is starving for oxygen so it sounds the alarm and wakes me up, usually gasping for air. I begin to breathe again, eventually falling asleep again which cues the entire process to recycle. I never have trouble falling asleep, just staying asleep is the issue.
The common “cure” for OSA is a mechanism that straps to your face and provides a constant stream of forced air to blow through your nostrils and down through your air passage maintaining constant flow of oxygen to the lungs. This apparatus is call a “C-Pap.” The man in the picture is using one. For many people, it’s a blessing because they are finally able to sleep through the night like a normal person. For many others, it is a disruptive, uncomfortable, intrusive piece of equipment that makes it totally impossible to sleep. I am among the latter.
My problem has grown to the extent that I am so sleep-deprived that I “crash” constantly throughout the day. I can fall asleep in the middle of having a conversation with someone. I can fall asleep while driving so I have grounded myself and my wife drives us everywhere. I have even fallen asleep while riding my bike. Fortunately, I crashed into some bushes instead of the small pond had I drifted in another direction. This is all almost comical if it weren’t for the fact that my level of OSA has reached the stage that there is a potential “flipping point” whereby my brain will not react in time to awaken me so I will breahe. Instead, I could lasps imto unconsiousness and not be awakened. If there ever is a time for me to say bedtime prayers now would be it.
Now available and approved by the FDA, is an electronic gadget that is installed in the body somewhat akin to a pacemaker. The main component is placed just under the skin of the upper breast, near the armpit. Leads then go up through the neck and attached to the base of the tongue. Another lead is attached to the lungs. When the latter detects movement of the lungs has stopped, a very low voltage pulse is sent to the tongue to stimulate movement and thus returning it to its normal state, opening the airway. This new equipment has developed a track record of being about 80% effective. More info at https://inspiresleep.com
Now, after jumping through several hoops, I have received the good news that I have qualified as a good candidate for having this new gear installed. I have to await Medicare approval, but I am told that has not been an issue since it is recognized that serious lack of sleep has a negative effect on the heart, the brain and lifespan.
So today is a benchmark for me. If all this works out, it will be life-changing. The long endless hours awake at night and much of the constant disruptions and embarrassing moments in my daytime will cease. Trust me, there is nothing like an even half-way good night’s sleep and I hope to experience that once again…“WooHoo!” says I.