Since I have devoted several postings to my sleep disorder, people almost always ask how goes it. So I thought I’d do a brief update on the innovative procedure I had done several months ago as discussed here several times on my blog. But first a quick background paragraph for any newcomers.
I suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Many people share my disorder. When the body sleeps the muscles relax. As my tongue relaxes it drops down and closes off my airway. Soon, my brain realizes it’s not getting any fresh oxygen and it wakes me up so I start breathing again. Hence I fall asleep only to be awaken soon after. The cycle repeats throughout the night depriving me of quality sleep. The common relief for OSA is a mask worn on the face called CPAP (see victim on the right). It’s hooked up to a pump that keeps an airflow going through the nostrils and eventually down into the lungs. It works fine keeping the airway open, but many people find the mask and airflow so annoying and uncomfortable that they cannot sleep while wearing it. For these people, me included, there is a new technology modeled after the pacemaker that heart patients have had success with. It’s call Inspire and if you want information about it, go to https://www.inspiresleep.com. This process involves a module being embedded under the skin in the upper right chest. Two leads are hooked up to this module. One goes to the lungs, the other to the base of the tongue. The patient activates the system with an external remote control. In short, it sends stimulants to the muscle at the base of the tongue and constantly moves it out of the airway. It is so new that I am only the 32nd person in Florida to have the Inspire implant “installed.” After the implant surgery there is a period of adjustment to determine the amount of stimulant an individual patient needs. Okay, that’s as brief as I can be in offering some background of the issue. I am sure you can google OSA and get lots more.
My Inspire unit was activated on June 9th and the adjustment process continues. The trick is to determine a setting that stimulates the tongue enough to clear the airway, but not so much that it wakes you up. I have quickly learned that an independently moving tongue can wake you up and keep you up. I haven’t found “my” setting yet so the Inspire system is still a process of trial and error for me. However, the unit has improved my sleeping in two ways: I am sleeping in longer “chunks” than previously so it must be working to some degree in reducing the number of times my air passage is closed down. And, two, I seem to be more restful and still when I am asleep. This is according to the wife and the fact that the bed isn’t blown apart by the time morning comes.
The main issue that keeps the Inspire system from being an “overnight” success story for me is that through the years of being up so much during the normal sleep cycle, I have developed a good strong case of insomnia. Inspire has no effect on this.
So battling the insomnia is my new challenge. If I can force myself to stay in bed and fight the restlessness it may give the implant the environment it needs to help me sleep for much longer periods of time. I guess you could say I am a work in progress…but that’s been the case all my life. I will opt for the in-progress status assuming that having achieved a work-completed status probably means funeral arrangements are being made…and that’s a longer period of sleep than I really want.