Sleep Apnea (Part Two of Three Parts)

When I told Dr. Washburn that I was sleeping well at night, he explained to me that my apneas (breathing stops) would cause my brain to shout, “Wake up, wake up and breathe” I would start breathing and be right back to sleep without even realizing that I woke up. There were times that I probably woke up without realizing why and thought I had to use the potty explaining why I would go up to 10 times a night.

Having the apnea documented in order for insurance to pay for the therapy is a hoop jumping process. I went through a regimen of tests which included x-rays and blood tests to rule out everything else, a home sleep study, a lab sleep study and four pulse Oximetry’s.

The first test was pulse oximetry I had that showed a significant drop in heart rate when I slept. I don’t recall the numbers but the pulmonologist explained that I woke up 94 times. I was in denial because I certainly didn’t remember waking that many times. He explained that when my heart rate dropped or I stopped breathing, my brain would alert me to wake up and start breathing. He said I wouldn’t be conscious of being awake for the periods of time it took to start breathing again because they were very short. A technician also explained to me that we can be awake without being conscious of it which explains my being awake for two hours without it seeming like it. As if that wasn’t scary enough, I did a home sleep study that showed that I stopped breathing 699 times in about 6 hours.

I was put on a trial 30 day CPAP (Constant Positive Airway Pressure) therapy. The CPAP provider monitors my sleep and breathing activity by transmissions from my machine directly to them and the provider keeps the Pulmonologist apprised.

I had to have an in-lab sleep study done after the 30 day trial period to show that the therapy was working. My apneas were greatly reduced though my heart rate still drops enough that the pulmonologist wanted to add oxygen titration to my machine. The study showed that it wasn’t much under the satisfactory minimum so Medicare said no. Heck, I was just happy to have them pay for the machine and supplies. I had been fortunate in that I had turned 65 right before the therapy was prescribed so I had to go on Medicare in addition to Blue Cross Blue Shield. Medicare has less stringent requirements than Blue Cross. I am sure I would have qualified even for Blue Cross since my tests showed the Sleep Apnea to be severe.

 

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Denial

Up until I had a hysterectomy and got happy (yes at the same time), I was tiny, bitty.

11979633-young-business-women-arguingPeople would criticize and comment and ridicule and I would try to gain weight to the point of making myself sick. Be careful what you wish for because now people are “worried” because I am overweight and I have no idea what they say behind my back.

18465933-fish-dish--fried-fish-fillet-french-fries-with-vegetablesI don’t think I gained all this weight overnight and I’m sure eating whatever I wanted had something to do with it. You see, I had developed that habit when I was thin so it was a part of me. My mother tried to tell me when I was younger that I was developing bad eating habits that would catch up with me. To be fair, I was and am a vegetable eater though not exclusively. As the weight was added, I would tell myself that a little weight wouldn’t hurt and I avoided the mirror like the plague. I was happy to be able to buy adult clothes and liked my face being a little fuller.

3487178-dos-muchachas-j-venes-intimidaci-n-otra-ni-a-al-aire-libreThen I started to worry that people wouldn’t want to be around me or like me
because I’m fat. There were actually articles as I was growing up on not hanging out with the “fat” or “ugly” chick in order to be seen as successful. Have you ever noticed that almost any magazine you pick up has an article on weight loss? While I agree that it is important to stay healthy, some people’s body types can handle a little added weight, mine isn’t one of them.

16686055-female-skier-looking-at-the-camera-after-falling-down-on-mountain-slopeNot only does the weight make me look unbalanced, it has affected my health. Being 4’11” my BMI is ridiculous and I now have to take blood pressure medicine, reflux medication even after having reflux surgery, medicine for high cholesterol… Having moved to high altitude country, I am constantly out of breath and because I have all my weight in the lower front, I fear falling over when I do outdoor activities. I can get up but I fear that someday I won’t be able to.

Family conflictWhen I recently took a trip to Texas, my mother made comments about my weight that she tried to backtrack by telling me that to her I would always be beautiful. My family have no filters so I tried to dismiss it. When I got back home, I wrote mom a letter telling her to stop worrying about my weight and making all these bold excuses and explanations. Being the child of an alcoholic, I know denial when I see it and that letter was complete and utter denial.

Weight loss surgery had been suggested by a previous doctor but I am fearful about A_Black_and_White_Cartoon_Two_Children_Walking_To_School_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_100713-145833-444053something that will change my life forever. I did my research, made an appointment with my new doctor and requested that my husband accompany me. I feel like whatever decision I make is going to affect both of us and also he knows medication. Another fear I have is becoming addicted to weight loss medication.

Danny and I had already discussed a new medication that has been successful in 9319250-two-young-business-people-talking-and-discussingaiding weight loss. He was familiar with it and knew that it had been helpful in weight loss with little to no side affects. It was decided in my doctor’s appointment that we would start with this medication called Contrave and go from there. The doctor said that her patients who had tried it had experienced success in losing and keeping it off. Thoughweight loss surgery would see faster results, getting insurance companies to pay for it is tricky. Even though I have most if not all the conditions that they take into account, they will still balk at paying. So we made a plan that I would come in monthly to be weighed and check in with her so we will have documentation to present to the insurance company as well as monitoring my progress.

I would like to tell you that I have seen huge changes at least in my eating habits but I 9052883-a-shopping-cart-full-of-fresh-colorful-products-illustrationtend to be a lightweight when it comes to some medications. The drug makes me extremely drowsy so I am only taking half doses at this time. I still have to surrender to the drowsiness but it’s manageable. I am noticing a small change in my eating but some of it is knowing that I can’t just rely on medication. Fake it till you make it!

Gaining and losing WeightMy take on dieting is that unless you keep it up for the rest of your life,
it becomes the yo-yo effect. I lose inches fairly easy but as soon as I get the compliments and see the results, I’m right back to where I started. Some people eat to live and I live to eat. I do use common sense when I cook and mostly when I eat though binging is not unheard of. Yes, I will have to add exercise to my regimen. I do like walking so I just need to get started.

I am hopeful that this journey will take me to better health and increased self acceptance. It’s time.

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