Suffering from chronic fatigue and headaches
First, let’s start from the beginning and file this in my miscellaneous posts. For years and years, while I was a Batchelor, I was always constantly dealing with Chronic Fatigue and headaches. I made several doctor’s appointments and they always went to the, “you need to exercise more.” Which was strange because I worked a very physical job that I think gave me a lot of exercise. I’d be dammed if I was going to willingly exercise after work each day.
I would get home, have dinner and immediately pass out on the couch in front of the TV. I would struggle just to stay awake to try and watch a TV show till the end. I didn’t want to fall asleep on the couch as it would be too early and then I’d be up all night when I was supposed to be sleeping.
I was also suffering from constant headaches pretty much every day and I was told to get my eyes checked. I did and they were actually bad. I then got glasses, but the headaches continued. Then it was blamed on a diet by the doctors. I felt like I was just there for them to get paid and to get me rushed out just to get paid by the next patient.
Years and years went by as I suffered from chronic fatigue and headaches without any relief or explanations.
What was the cause of my chronic fatigue and headaches?
If it wasn’t for my Girlfriend entering my life and taking me away from the Batchelor life I would have never found out why I was suffering so badly. I knew I had a sleep-snoring problem where I would snore so hard it would wake me up out of deep sleep. But I never knew I would actually stop breathing in my sleep for long periods of time!
My girlfriend took a video of me sleeping and snoring on her iPhone and showed me how I would stop breathing for almost a minute at a time, I was freaked out so bad it scared the crap out of me. She said she had to wake me up a lot during the night to get me to start breathing again. She said sometimes I would be snoring so loud it not only woke her up but the snoring would wake me up also. The snoring would wake me up a lot throughout the night and I never remembered waking up most of the time.
The snoring was so bad that it was affecting her sleep also and the fact that she had to wake up a lot throughout the night to check if I was even breathing was wearing her down also. So we booked an appointment to see my Doctor and explained to her how bad the snoring was and how I would literally stop breathing in my sleep at night. The doctor suggested that I get tested for sleep apnea and referred me to a sleep clinic organization.
So this sleep clinic that diagnoses if a person has sleep apnea or not gave me this contraption to wear while I slept at night and this device would record my breathing and pulse while I slept. When the sleep study person got the data from the device she confirmed that I have Severe Sleep Apnea. I would stop breathing over 90 times an hour! Yeah, an hour!!
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common condition in which your breathing stops and restarts many times while you sleep. This can prevent your body from getting enough oxygen. You may want to talk to your healthcare provider about sleep apnea if someone tells you that you snore or gasp during sleep, or if you experience other symptoms of poor-quality sleep, such as excessive daytime sleepiness.
There are two types of sleep apnea.
- Obstructive sleep apnea happens when your upper airway becomes blocked many times while you sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. Anything that could narrow your airways such as obesity, large tonsils, or changes in your hormone levels can increase your risk for obstructive sleep apnea.
- Central sleep apnea happens when your brain does not send the signals needed to breathe. Health conditions that affect how your brain controls your airway and chest muscles can cause central sleep apnea.
“Sleep apnea can directly cause death by a person’s breathing being infrequent enough to create immediate tissue ischemia (tissue death from lack of oxygen) in the heart and/or brain, resulting in a fatal heart attack or stroke,”
What I had to do in order to live with the condition
In order to help me sleep and not stop breathing or snoring while I was sleeping, I had to get myself a CPAP machine (Continuous positive airway pressure). As you sleep, the CPAP provides air at a pressure just high enough to prevent the collapse of your airway. The pressurized air is provided through a mask that seals with your mouth or nose, I have one for just the nose. This allows you to breathe without much effort and sleep without waking up. The CPAP machine doesn’t breathe for you.
The mask I use is very comfortable (seen in the image to the right) and not like the ones you would see on TV or in the movies showing these huge contraptions and masks that cover your face and make that crazy loud Darth Vader-sounding breathing noises. LOL! My mask actually fits nicely and isn’t constricting at all. And the machine is really quiet also.
Care is very simple. Clean the mask and humidity chamber once a week with soapy water, and the hose about once a month, change the filters every few months and that’s it. Only use distilled water in the humidity chamber.
Where can you buy a CPAP Machine?
Normally if you go through a sleep clinic and they diagnose you with sleep apnea they will set you up with a machine. And in my case, my Blue Cross covered the cost of the CPAP machine and we only had to shell out something like $80 for the filters that weren’t covered by insurance. But if you aren’t covered by insurance you can get them at places like CPAPMAN and Respshop just to name a couple. I believe they will also offer you options under an insurance plan if you have one also.
But seriously though, if you are suffering from a sleep disorder like mine I strongly recommend that you get yourself one of these machines. Your life is literally on the line. You can actually die either in your sleep or from a heart attack, this is a serious condition you can’t take lightly.
But wait! There’s more!
Another bonus to using the CPAP machine with the humidity chamber is that it also cured me of this nagging Chronic cough that I had which the doctors threw everything at it trying to diagnose it. We thought it was from post nasal drip but it was actually because of the sleep apnea causing me to breathe through my mouth and drying out my esophagus causing it to tickle all the time resulting in me coughing my lungs out (figuratively). So yeah, if you have a nagging cough, or headache, and are chronically tired all the time, You need this CPAP Machine!