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Why is snoring such a big deal?

To start at the beginning of how I ended up doing MMA surgery, I need to start at the very beginning issue: snoring.

I have three wonderful children. They are absolutely a gift from God. Children are fulfilling and crazy. They make you happy and they make you tired. I was so tired all the time and I thought, man, it’s just because I’ve got kids. Everyone with kids is tired.

Turns out having the third child triggered a series of events to get to surgery. So while I wasn’t always gung-ho on having three, having the third changed me the most.

For those who don’t have kids, when you have a young child under a year old, someone has to wake up, feed the baby, change a diaper, and go back to bed. In our family that someone was my wife. I was still working and she was a stay at home mom running at year five. Also we chose to breast feed exclusively so there was no point for me to wake up at night.

I was always a snorer. Well it turns out in the middle of the night waking up with the third she noticed I would stop breathing completely. And after a while she would hit me and I would have a huge gasp of air before breathing again. We didn’t really understand at first but that, my friends, is an apnea. There are many reasons for it, but essentially it’s where your body decides to stop breathing while you are asleep. How often and how long is the big ‘is it deadly’ question.

So my wife bugged me to get a sleep study. I went through the ruckus of referrals and steps to OK the sleep study and finally did it. Pro tip: try to get to the shortest hops to get to a sleep study in the lab. Home sleep study kits often fail and their measurement set is incomplete compared to the ton of wires they hook you up to in the lab.

Well, turns out I was super bad – like, super. They measure a score of apnea per hour but what it came down to was the dry humor interpretation from the sleep specialist:

“Basically you are awake for 30 seconds every 2 minutes. This means you never sleep. Never. And based on your blood oxygen we think having below 95 is an issue and you are at 75. So what’s happening is that your body is tired and trying to push through and stay asleep. It can’t breathe for some reason so it gives an adrenaline kick which wakes you up every two minutes to start you breathing again. So what’s going to happen is this: if you don’t want to treat this your body will just keep pushing to try to breathe and keeping on failing to at lower and lower overall oxygen until your heart can’t take it and you just die in your sleep.”

Ok, well, it was funnier when he said it. But anyhow they identified that the root cause was obstructive (airway blockages) vs other types , for example, central nervous system, etc. The gold standard non-surgical treatment for this was the CPAP. Basically if your airway is a drinking straw and you try to drink a smoothie, it takes a lot of pressure. If you use one of those big boba straws, notice how your effort just went down? It’s fluid dynamics ! So you can get a bigger straw through surgery or just put a suction pump at the end of the straw and that’s the CPAP. The CPAP blows the air harder into your airway to overcome the obstructions.

So, I started the CPAP thinking, “Nope, I’m never gonna do surgery – that’s crazy!” Insurance covered most of it. The sleep clinic tuned it up with another sleep study to see what kind of pressure was required and then away I went.

The result? Felt like I had never slept in over twenty years. The first night on the CPAP for five hours was better than sleeping twelve without it daily for a year because it was actual sleep. Sure it took a bit to get used to the crazy mask and cleaning and all. But wooorth it.

Key point: If you are tired, don’t be proud. Get the sleep study. CPAP was not my ultimate destination but I can’t imagine making it there without step one. It will give you so much more energy when you get used to it.

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