I have known for a while that I needed to see a Sleep Apnea specialist to follow up on some things with my health that have been progressively worsening, but I put it off. Being a single mom who is taking care of a toddler and working full-time keeps me busy so I tend to put myself at the bottom of the list. It’s easy for me to blame being tired all the time on working third shift or being a mom or any number of other logical things. Plus, I don’t want the embarrassment of a doctor telling me that being overweight is the cause of my problems.
I gained a lot of weight with my pregnancy three years ago and when I was placed on bed rest, that’s when I first noticed I was snoring.
Even though the pandemic has essentially shut down almost all of my interactions and meetings with other moms, I did manage to attend one Zoom meeting with my mom tribe where we talked about what things were on our self to-do list and focusing more on getting one of those things that we need to do for ourselves done. After that meeting, I decided that it was time to stop procrastinating and take care of myself, so I made an appointment with a sleep medicine doctor to be evaluated for sleep apnea.
As I sat in their waiting room filling out the seemingly endless questionnaires, I realized how many symptoms I had been ignoring and just how sick I really was. I had no idea that a sleep disorder can affect so many aspects of your life, from depression and weight gain to heartburn and frequent nighttime urination.
So upon recommendation from the doctor, I did a two-night at-home sleep study that consisted of a nasal cannula, a finger pulse oximeter, and a monitor box strapped around my chest while I slept. About a week later, I walked back into the office to get my results and the doctor came in, sat down, looked me straight in my eyes, and told me he wasn’t even going to laugh and joke with me during this visit because he didn’t want me to go home and think that my condition might not be that serious, because it absolutely was.
Turns out on top of other Sleep Apnea risk factors, I have a congenitally-small airway and that airway is collapsing while I sleep.
Not once or twice but around 80 times an hour (more than 30 is considered severe). Furthermore, at one point during the night, my oxygen level dropped down from a normal level of 100% to only 48% and averaged only 89% throughout the night. He said that I have the second-most severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea that he can remember seeing in quite some time. And if I hadn’t come to see him, he could guarantee that I would have a heart attack or stroke in the near future, or have an accident from falling asleep while driving.
The good news, OSA is very treatable with a CPAP machine that will force just enough air into my airway to prevent it from collapsing so that I can finally get a good night of sleep. The results were shocking to me, but at least now I know what the problem is and how to fix it.
I am so thankful to my group of moms for encouraging me to make time to take care of myself.
If you do not have a mom tribe, I highly recommend it. Your tribe can be an organized group of moms with scheduled meetings or simply just a group of other moms that you spend time with on a semi-regular basis. The beauty of a mom tribe is that you can differ on your opinions, politics, social-economical status and even the makeup of your families, but you will always have one thing in common – you are all moms and you are all going through similar experiences. There are so many reasons I recommend being a part of a mom tribe, but I’ll save that for another post.
The reason that I chose to share my story with you all is because I know how easy it is for us moms to put ourselves last most of the time, but when it comes to your health and well being, please make the time. Whatever it may be, please make that phone call, please make that appointment. If you happen to live with someone who snores, sounds like they stop breathing or gasps for air in their sleep, is tired during the day, carries extra weight, and/or has other health conditions such as heart problems or diabetes, please encourage them to be evaluated for Sleep Apnea, too.