Living With and Managing Sleep Apnea

Uploaded by NHLBI on 18.05.2011


JIM: I had this problem throughout my life.
Driving was always a problem, and I tried to make sure
that no place I ever had to go was very far away
because I knew I'd fall asleep.
Carol Lynn was complaining about snoring
and, more specifically,
snoring and then long periods of nothing,
and then a gasp when I would, you know, start breathing again.
Obviously, I wanted to enjoy my life with my children
more than I felt that I was enjoying it.
It's Saturday morning,
and the kids are at your bed ready to do something,
and I'm just like, "I gotta sleep, guys.
I'm sorry. I can't play with you. I can't do this."
And I look back and I'm like, "This just can't be right."
I had been talking to my doctor
about possibly having depression symptoms.
I remember the other thing that I said to the doctor
when I went was that I no longer had any dreams.
If you're not getting into REM sleep, you have no dreams.
And so she's the one who then said,
"Okay, we're gonna send you for a sleep study."
I spent the night there.
The amount of times that I was technically waking,
and as low as my blood oxygen levels were,
it was extreme.
I was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea.
Surgery, as it turned out,
really wasn't a good option for me.
The next step was that my doctor did prescribe a CPAP machine.
CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure.
The idea is they have to get the air pressure to your nose
or your mouth or both
in order to keep your airway open while you sleep.
Because it wasn't comfortable for me to use,
I was not using it as well as I should have been,
in some cases not at all for weeks at a time.
And things got worse, other symptoms appeared.
I felt confused and out of it and just not right.
And I realized that I really needed
to figure out a way to learn to live with this contraption.
Now I'm at the point where I am consistently using it
and have been for a long period of time.
I definitely feel better.
I'm looking forward to feeling better yet.
Certainly, I have more energy to do activities with the children
than I did before, and we do more.
One of the things that can help is if you exercise,
and so, now that I am feeling better,
I am coming home from work with energy still.
I'm able to look at having an exercise routine,
so we bought an elliptical machine.
I'm to the point now that when I go to sleep,
I'm looking forward to it
because I know that when I take that breath in,
it's gonna be there, and I feel better.