Sleep Apnea/Migraines/Health

On a serious note, do you
realize just how important
sleep is to your body. I have
found this out, might I add,
the hard way.

I suffer from sleep apnea. It
was discovered that I had this
sleep issue in Oct. of 2005. It
was a blow to me because not
only was I told this, I was told
that I had to sleep on a machine
that would pump air into my
nose at night to keep me breathing.

For those of you who know
nothing about sleep apnea
let me enlighten you a bit.
There are 3 kinds of sleep
apnea. Obstructive, Central,
or a combo of both. Mine is
obstructive sleep apnea and
that is the most common type.
With obstructive sleep apnea it
most often means that the
airway has collapsed or is
blocked during sleep. The
blockage may cause shallow
breathing or breathing pauses.
Here is my history. I had
headaches, daily. They ranged
on a scale of 1-10, most times
on the lower end of that scale,
dull, nagging, but none the same,
still there. Then on other days,
they would fall in the center of
the scale. Once a month or so
I would have that stabbing, sick,
headache. The one where you
could not lift your head, you
were physically sick and even
the littlest of a sound would
send you to a dark room. I had
these headaches for a year and
a half. I never talked to my
doctor about them, since I had
allergies, I assumed they were
caused from that. The once a
month bad one, I knew was
linked to hormones.

Then came the really bad one.
I thought my head was going
to explode or that something
in there was going to bust.
I called the dr. and went
straight over. Scan was done
of the head, I was sent to an
ear, nose and throat dr. but
neither one of these could
tell me what the problem was.
Finally my dr. said that it
sounded like I was suffering
from migraines. I could see the
once a month one being that,
but not the daily ones. Well,
to a specialist I went and yes,
I had what was called common
migraines. Someone who has
these is basically a person that
has a headache daily. Wow…
that was news to me, but at least
I had a name for them now
other then just a headache.

I was put on preventative meds
that helped for a few months
but then they were back
again. In the office of the
specialist one day I
mentioned that I had them
when I woke and kept them
all day. That was the red
flag that he needed. He
told me he needed me to
have a sleep study. I was
not happy with the news
that I could have this,
and I was not exactly
sure what all it meant.
So that is where the internet
came in handy. I love the internet.

My study showed that I had
sleep apnea. At night when I
laid to sleep, the soft tissue in
my throat would fall down and
close off my breathing. In a 7
hour sleep study I was told I
was lucky to be getting 2 hours
of sleep. I had 146 episodes,
and I stopped breathing anywhere
between 10 seconds to 40
seconds at a time. This cuts
off the oxygen to the brain,
causing the migraines.

The hard part was the machine,
getting use to having air blown
up your nose and then to have
this mask attached to your face,
that covers most of your face.
But once you have that first
good night of sleep…wow,
the difference. If corrected
my migraines. Of course, I
will still have one here and
there but not like I was.

In 2005, my doctors office
asked me did I snore as a
child. I told them I did really
bad as a teen, and of course
I did then too. They told me
that I had probably had this
since I was young but what
happens is as you get older,
the inside of your body acts
like the outside, everything f
alls south. That is why mine
got worse. Of course, my
weight has not helped the
issue either. The thing with
the weight is, sleep apnea
is effected by it, but on the
flip side, your weight is
effected by the sleep apnea.
So it’s a no win thing.

It gets even better then
that. I have been using
my machine since 2005.
Yes, there have been times
that I have slacked up but
for the past year I have been
doing it like I should.
But things have not been
right for the last 6 months
or so. I was not feeling well
and I was so sore. Every
muscle in my body was sore
daily but I thought it was
my weight ( I had gained
40 lbs in the last 1.5 years).
But with sleep apnea, you
don’t realize that you are
waking at night or that
your sleep is being messed
up. I have been tired,
hurting, no energy…but
then in February the
headaches came back
daily, that was my clue
that something was not
right with the sleep.

New referral (insurance
change), new dr. and he
explained so much to me.
The reason for the muscle
soreness is I now have
fibromyalgia. The sleep
dr. seems to think that
with sleep it will get
better. What has been
happening, just like the
migraines, no oxygen
was getting to my muscles
at night and they were
having spasms all night.
No wonder I could not
get comfortable and I
tossed and turned all
night. Thought I needed
to buy a new mattress and pillows.

And it gets better or worse
even yet….sleep apnea
can effect your blood
pressure (mine is still
good, probably the
only good thing I have
going), blood sugar,
weight, heart (with
attacks, irregular heartbeat
and failure), migraines,
fibromyalgia, it can also
be a cause for IBS, acid
reflux, and asthma.
With that let me name
what all I have. Years
ago I developed migraines,
asthma, then came the
acid reflux, then the
sleep apnea (although
I probably already had
it and it had not reared
its ugly head yet, but
maybe caused the first
two things I named).
A year and a half ago I learned I had IBS, course the weight thing has been an issue the last
20 years or more. Now
with this last go around
with the sleep (and keep
in mind, I was trying to
take care of myself…finally),
I developed the fibro and
according to lab work from
last week, high levels with
my blood sugar. Now…
the cholesterol is my
fault and something that
I am working on and I
can’t blame it on the sleep
other then to say that
cooking healthy has been
hard cause I have not even
had the energy to walk to
the kitchen!

I am on a low fat/low sugar
diet now and walking. I
have been sleeping with a
new pressure change on
my machine and a new
mask for a week and a
half now and I feel like
I will live again. But to
explain how bad it got,
I barely could lift my feet
to walk. I got to work and
I sit in my chair, I made
myself get up to go to the
bathroom when I needed
to, I went home, I crashed.
I set two alarms, I turned
two alarms off each morning
only to drag myself up to take a
shower, do my hair and go
take a 30 min. nap
sitting straight up
on the couch in
front of the news.
To rush and get
up and dress and
throw on my makeup
and drag into work.
I did this for the last
6 months…only the
last two before the
pressure change
was really hard.
Now…I look back
and I am not sure how I did it.

Sleep…..who ever knew
the damage it could do?
I do now.

I am not happy with the
pressure change, it was
a major jump but I
have to do what I have
to do to make it daily.
Life sucks at times.

Thanks for stopping in.


Pam D said…
I am so glad that you got diagnosed and that there is something that can help you! My co-den leader in Cub Scouts finally got diagnosed and got her C-Pap mask last fall. She has since been able to lose weight and is doing SO much better. I think it's a more common problem than people realize, but I didn't realize that it was SUCH a huge issue in your life. I'm happy to hear that you're doing better now...
Anonymous said…
You have learned a lot about the dangers of sleep apnea. Kudos to you for addressing things proactively.

One more thing you need to know. Many of us have CPAP machines with data cards and monitoring software loaded onto our own PCs. On a regular basis we run reports that monitor apneas, hypopneas, snores, and mask leaks. We know better than the sleep docs and labs what our CPAP pressure settings should be. IMO, this is the only way to get a good therapy. It is much like the diabetic who monitors his own blood-glucose levels and adjusts medication, insulin injections, diet, and exercise to get a good therapy.

If you are interested in having control of your own CPAP therapy, checkout one of the forums. My favorite is cpaptalk and I also like a new one, sleepguide.

I expect to never have another sleep study and never need a doctor to prescribe my pressure settings. I will know sooner and better than the doctor when my pressure needs changing.

Good luck,

Thomas B.
Anonymous said…
OMG Pam I as well don't know how you managed all that time without sleep and the issues it has caused. I knew you were having problems but didn't realize the extent of how this lack of sleep was affecting your life. I as well am very happy you are feeling better! I glad that issues have been addressed and you are on the road to a happier/healthier you. It's amazing how lack of sleep can affect ones life in major ways. As Thomas B states... "Kudos to you for addressing things proactively" I'm happy and glad to have the 'ole' Pam back (smile).. Nancy M; Ohio

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