The week ahead could be an incredible one for me…so much so, that it could be life-changing. I will become one of less than 2000 people worldwide (about 40 here in South Florida) who will have had an innovative mechanism installed in their bodies. For those interested, especially those who are victims of the same medical issue from which I suffer, I will share the experience with you here on Marc’s Blog.
Some 40 years ago I began watching late-night television. I wasn’t quite ready for my usual bedtime following the traditional 11 o’clock news. So I became a regular viewer of Johnny Carson and David Letterman. Eventually, I extended my bedtime past these two shows, subsequently going to bed sometime around 2-3 o’clock in the morning. I just wasn’t sleepy anymore at a normal bedtime. Meanwhile, my morning alarm clock started buzzing at 7. Needless to say, I was not getting enough sleep and being alert and functioning throughout the day became a problem that would grow more serious over the next few decades.
In the early 1990s I had my first sleep test. It was strange, like something out of a bad sci-fi movie. Late in the evening, I reported to a room on the very vacant wing of a nearby hospital. My head was draped with wires that drooled down my skull and plugged into electronic pads stuck to dozens of points across my face and upper torso. Then I was told to fall sleep. Sure!
While I was allegedly sleeping with all this spaghetti wrapped around me, a man in an adjacent room stared at a monitor and took notes from the data being “pulsed” from all the wires attached to my body. By morning, the evidence was overwhelming. During the short periods that I actually slept, my body stopped breathing on an average of 47 times an hour. I was diagnosed and joined some 12 million Americans suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
The process of OSA is simple and I have discussed it here before. Basically, the body falls asleep and the muscles relax. Those in the air passage down the back of the throat relax too, sometimes too much and they actually close off the airway. Within a few seconds, the brain realizes that the lungs are not breathing and the brain is starving for oxygen. Impulses are immediately sent out to awaken the body so it begins breathing again. This cycle then continues to repeat itself throughout the night, keeping the body in a repetitive state of falling asleep only to be awakened minutes later, thus depriving it from getting the rest it needs.
There is a piece of equipment that OSA patients can use to help them achieve uninterrupted sleep. It’s called CPAP, but not everyone has success using it. I am one of those who have tried different versions many times throughout the years, but I have had no luck with any of them.
To be continued midweek….
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