Category Archives: Sleep Apnea

Visions of Sleep

I had three medical appointments today. I swear I live at the doctor’s office.

Sleep Study

The first appointment was for a class on preparation for my sleep study tonight. Several of my doctors have asked me in the past if I have ever been tested for sleep apnea. Apparently I have a ton of risk factors. I never even suspected that I might have sleep apnea primarily because I rarely snore, and when I do it’s very quiet and doesn’t last long. But my new primary doctor thought it was worth testing, so here I am.

Symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Snoring (usually loud and persistent)
  • Episodes of not breathing followed by gasping for air and/or snorting
  • waking a lot during the night (may be accompanied by shortness of breath)
  • waking with a dry mouth and/or sore throat
  • headaches (especially in the morning)
  • insomnia
  • sleepiness and fatigue during the day
  • trouble paying attention
  • moodiness

Risk factors for sleep apnea (obstructive and central types):

  • Obesity
  • large neck size
  • narrow airway
  • males
  • older persons
  • family history
  • drinking alcohol, using sedatives and/or tranquilizers, smokers
  • nasal congestion
  • Heart conditions
  • Using narcotic/ pain medications
  • stroke
  • Diabetes

There were four of us in the class. We first filled out a quick questionnaire that asked about risk factors and symptoms. Then we went over what sleep apnea is, how it works, what the test is for, and what the treatment is and how it works.  Then the technician showed us the test machine we were to take home, how it works, how to put it on and start it, and how to take it off.

I was a bit surprised when I saw the machine; I was expecting the same machine my husband had been tested with, the one you strap on your chest and have to lay on your back all night and can’t get up during the test. This machine I was being sent home with is like a huge watch you strap on your wrist with a finger shell (just like a pulse oximeter). I was happy to find out I can sleep just like normal (I hate sleeping on my back) and if I have to pee during the night it’s OK to get up.  WOOT!

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The sleep study machine you wear like a watch

Retinal Scan

My second appointment of the day was at ophthalmology for an eye scan in preparation for my first visit with my new retina specialist. This appointment was nothing special or new to me, I’ve had this same scan a million times. Just look straight ahead at the blue light and cross while they run the scan.  Of course they had to dilate my eyes first. The point of this test is to get good pictures of your retina.

Retina Specialist

My last appointment of the day was with my new retina specialist. He’s a nice guy, has a mildly comedic personality that sets you at ease. But most importantly he seems knowledgeable and willing to listen. I told him about my past surgeries, laser treatments, Avastin injections, etc.

“You get Avastin injections in both eyes?”


“Do you want it in your right eye?”

I understood immediately why he asked this. I have virtually no vision left in my right eye and am fully aware there is nothing that can be done to improve this eye. It’s done, I know. I told him I really didn’t care either way about the injection in my right eye, but I know I really need it in my left.

He examined both my eyes and agreed I need Avastin in my left to keep it stable.

As he was examining my right eye he made a comment that made me smile a bit. “The doctor that did your scleral buckle did a great job.”  I smiled because it brought memories of Dr. Hunter, a truly excellent retina specialist.

“OK, then I’ll do the Avastin in your left eye now, and no more Avastin for your right.”

“Sounds good.”

He did the injection and asked to see me again in eight weeks for my next injection. Then he asked me if I had any questions. I did.

“I know my right eye has shrunk…”

“Yes it has…”

“Is it going to?…”

“No, it’s done, the oil will keep it from shrinking any more.”

“OK, so is there anything I can do about my droopy eyelid?  I know it doesn’t cause any problems but…for vanity’s sake…”  I’ve been reluctant to leave my house, and very insecure, because of my droopy eyelid (often called a “winking eye”). I used to be so proud of my big, bright, beautiful eyes, but now I just want to hide the right side of my face.

“I’ll refer you to a plastic surgeon.”

“Thank you.”

So on the way out I made an appointment to consult a plastic surgeon, and an eight week appointment for my precious Avastin.

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My right eye has shrunk due to retinopathy, causing a “winking eye”

Busy day, but all good.



He Would Like to Sleep

Hubby is a type 2 diabetic. It runs in his family, but his food choices and sedentary lifestyle proved to increase his chances of developing it. He was diagnosed several months ago. Being a type 1 I noticed key symptoms in him such as peeing a lot more often, being more thirsty, etc. So I checked his blood sugar and it was over 200. The next morning I checked it again (fasting BG) and it was in the 140’s if I remember correctly. So we went to the doctor. Can you believe they diagnosed him off of my word of what his BG’s were?! No blood work was done until later (which confirmed the diagnosis).lee32

Anyway, this post isn’t so much about his type 2 as it is his sleep apnea. Diabetes comes with a lot of high risk of developing many, many, many other conditions; especially if you are an uncontrolled diabetic. Sometimes, however, it is very difficult to know if the diabetes helped in the development of a condition, or if the condition helped in the development of the diabetes.  Sometimes it becomes a vicious cycle of conditions aggravating and perpetuating one another. I’m not saying his apnea caused his diabetes or his diabetes caused his apnea, I’m just pointing out that things often seem to be linked and effect each other.

I don’t know how long Hubby has been a diabetic, type 2 can be active for a very long time before one starts to have noticeable symptoms and is finally diagnosed. I do know, however, that Hubby has had sleep apnea for at least 18 years, he just was never tested or diagnosed until this past month (money and insurance issues).

Who is at risk for sleep apnea?

  • Over weight persons
  • Large necks
  • Narrow airways
  • Males
  • Senior Citizens
  • Heredity
  • African Americans
  • People who make use of depressants (alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, etc)
  • Smokers
  • People with nasal congestion

There are other risk factors, I’m sure.

Sleep apnea is basically when your airway is obstructed while you sleep and/or you stop breathing in your sleep. This can be very serious and obviously is dangerous, and can have a very bad impact on all aspects of your life, especially health. As with many disorders, sleep apnea comes with levels of severity; mild, moderate, and severe. When Hubby did his test it came back as moderate sleep apnea. Also there are two types of sleep apnea, Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea. Hubby has Obstructive.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring
  • Feeling tired even though you sleep a full night
  • Waking up suddenly needing to take a deep breath and/or being told by a witness that you stopped breathing during sleep
  • Waking up with dry mouth and/or sore throat
  • Headaches (especially upon waking)
  • Waking up a lot during the night
  • Attention and memory problems

leemaceHubby and I have been married for going on 16 years, and have been together for going on 18. All of these years I can guarantee you that he snores very loud and often. I can also guarantee you that he often stops breathing in his sleep. Within the last two or three years he’s been experiencing severe fatigue every single day, to the point that it started causing problems in many parts of his/our life. Also, he has been experiencing serious memory loss and attention span issues.

All of this is because he is not getting restful sleep. Basically, he has become severely sleep deprived.

So he asked our primary doctor to refer him to a sleep study to be tested for sleep apnea.  When he got in to see the specialist, he was asked a million questions and discussed many things with the doctor.  By the end of the visit the doctor was positive that Hubby has sleep apnea.  They sent him home with a test kit.

That night I helped him hook up to the machine. It was supposed to turn on by itself and start working as soon as he was in position but it didn’t.  I took the initiative to reset it even though they told us not to.  I figured it was better to ignore the rules and make the machine work than to let the entire test be ruined because the machine wouldn’t turn on when it was supposed to. I reset it and it then worked properly.

The next day Hubby dropped off the machine at the doctor’s office. They downloaded the information which did exist (something we were worried about seeing as things didn’t go smoothly) and a few days later Hubby was informed that the results indicated he stopped breathing 28 times an hour! This gives a diagnosis of moderate sleep apnea (apparently 30 or more times would be severe).

Complications of sleep apnea include, but are not limited to:

  • High blood pressure
  • fatigue
  • problems with medications and/or surgery
  • liver problems
  • sleep deprived partners (YES!)
  • Depression
  • Loss of libido

2015-08-21 09.40.31It took way too long for the specialist’s office to file and request our insurance to allow Hubby to get a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. But after 2-3 weeks the OK was finally there and Hubby got his machine.

I went with him to pick up the machine and go through the training. It’s pretty easy and awesome. The trainer discussed a few things about Hubby’s health and one thing he mentioned was that he sees a lot of diabetics who also have sleep apnea. The training lasted about an hour and by time we were done Hubby had gone from being a bit nervous to being very excited.

Hubby used his machine for the first time last night. He says he does feel more rested but it’s still early to see real results because it takes time to get used to wearing a mask at night and being forced to breathe, and also I’m sure the settings on the machine are going to have to be adjusted to better suit his needs.

I’m really happy for him! I can hardly wait to see my rested, alert, happy man once again!