To Sleep Perchance to Dream Again

Do you remember dreaming when you sleep? It could be a vivid dream, an informative dream, one of those dreams you wished never ended, or then again, it could have been a nightmare. I currently do not remember dreaming because I am not sleeping for more than a few hours a night. I do remember nightmares however.

 

I have always hated nightmares, but my nightmares now come during this recent trial and I am wide awake not asleep.

 

For the past twenty-seven years I have been going through a multitude of health issues and for the most part, I handled them well or so I led myself to believe I did. However, it was within the past year that one of my current doctors suggested that I get tested for sleep apnea.

 

The request startled me and scared me at the same time. I lost one of my brothers about twelve years ago and he suffered from sleep apnea. He did not follow the advice given and his condition worsened and eventually affected his lungs. He died way too young and now I may have this? I definitely was alarmed at the suggestion that I, too, may have this issue. I needed to follow the doctor’s advice and complete a sleep study.

 

Roughly 18 million people suffer from sleep apnea and it seems each year the numbers continue to climb. I had no idea that so many people have this condition. I decided to examine my symptoms and try to find out when I become a possible statistic.

 

For the most part sleeping never used to be an issue for me. I could go to bed and lay my head down and before I knew it, I was out like a light. But during my later twenties and early thirties I seemed to be so fatigued and felt I never had enough sleep. I never had breathing issues or snored (at least not to my knowledge), but after I lost my mother I gained an excessive amount of weight and that may have tipped the scale which led to my sleep apnea.

 

My fatigue never seemed to let up. In fact it became more and more apparent the older I got. I never had any energy anymore and yes, my weight continued to climb. I thought if I got into shape the fatigue would go away. Then again I spent more time avoiding the issue instead of trying to fix it. I ask anyone who has a gut feeling that something isn’t right or if they are facing a change in their normal routine, to be proactive and seek a doctor’s help. Do not be mislead by your fear.

 

I was stubborn and afraid of what was going on, but apparently not afraid enough to investigate further. A wise person (my niece) pointed out that it is better to be armed with information than to refuse to find the cause; thus sweeping the problem under the rug. My refusal to investigate most likely caused my atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) which began ten years ago. I had my heart checked out and they could not determine what caused my a-fib (which I just found out this past year may have been caused due to sleep apnea). It was not a heart or a valve issue. I am now on medicine for this condition, which doubles my risk of a heart-attack or stroke, for the rest of my life. A lot of older individuals normally develop this during their later years (70 or so). I was in my mid-forties when I was diagnosed. I could not afford the cardioversion procedure to convert my heart back to a normal rate, so I now have to live with this condition.

 

Back to my point: I was a typical “avoider” and I chose that path until I couldn’t progress further. The fact is I was wrong every time in all of my assessments. I arrogantly thought I could resolve the issue myself. Dumb was my final assessment of myself! Please do not let yourself become your worst enemy by sabotaging your health. Get professional advice and do not rely on your own ignorance as a substitute. Once your health is lost you can never go back to how it used to be.

 

As I just mentioned, I was avoiding the bad news and I thought I could take care of this issue another way. My brilliant idea? I was going to shovel as much caffeine into my body to ward off this fatigue. All I needed was money and the ability to get to a store or fast food joint and drink my way back to good health. The end result? I still have the same symptoms only now more prominent/severe, and I became a caffeine addict on top of it. Who wasn’t using her brain here?

 

I am not here to chastise myself, but my reasoning became a whole new issue. I put everything ahead of my health (my job, life’s expenses, etc). I started this snowball that gained speed as it rolled down the hill. It was moving so fast that I could not run to catch it and stop this cycle. Other health conditions started and most of them stayed on permanently adding more stress to my health status.

 

Last year (2015) it all seemed to fall apart and nothing I could do would glue these parts back together. I lost a toe; my health kept getting worse and this issue was killing me. I minimized a symptom instead of trying to see what caused it and I paid a huge price for my error in judgment. I didn’t resolve anything. Instead, I added another condition to my long list of ailments.

 

While waiting for my sleep study to test for sleep apnea to be approved I didn’t just lose sleep. I now gained a persistent cough (from finding out part of my lung was collapsing due to this), I had difficulty breathing (waking up gasping for air), fluid buildup, lack of concentration and the ability to judge situations, memory loss, and many other complications. I had gotten to the point of not sleeping more than 1-2 hours a night to becoming so tired from my lack of sleep that I would start to drift off in conversations and then start to fall asleep as I was driving home from work. I was a mess and it seemed no matter how much attention I now paid toward this issue, nothing was getting done or resolved. I had to take a mild sedative just to get the sleep study completed. I tried to stay awake for the study, but when I arrived I found out I could not sleep. Again I had to go through more red tape to get this approved for another study and finally it all came together. It was confirmed that I do have sleep apnea and I also lose oxygen when I sleep. I just got my cpap machine with oxygen bled in (to help me get a restorative sleep) and I am starting to find my way back to normalcy. It is an adjustment. I feel closed in with the mask I need to wear at night, but this time I am taking all of the needed measures to deal with this condition. No more playing a fake doctor on my own!

 

So what am I saying with all of this? Never take your health for granted and learn to listen to your body. You know when something is not right and when this happens, act on it right away. Do not put things off or avoid addressing the issue(s) at hand. No amount of money or running away is worth it or going to solve anything. Take a deep breath, face your fears, talk with God through prayer and never cease praying about this, and then get into a doctor as soon as you can. Keep in mind we are meant for more than this and we are doing God and ourselves a disservice by not addressing our health issues as they happen There is a reason that God says “fear not” or “Do not be afraid” 365 times in the bible. Put your trust in Him to deal with this and get you through the struggle. Drop your pride at the door and let Him into your life.

 

He has held my hand throughout all of this and the comfort that He provides is well worth it. I have more to do for Him and other conditions to continue to monitor. I now am starting to get more sleep; thus perchance to dream once again.

 

Finally, I am most thankful that I have God in my life. I let Him into my heart, I poured out my fears, anxieties and concerns to Him. He listened and from the moment I came to Him, He has been there with me. Take a moment and search your soul. See where you are without Him and then I pray that you begin to search for Him. You will see a world of difference once you find Him and you will know no greater love. He may not let you pass through the struggle, but He will carry you throughout it and comfort you during it. He is the one in control. Listen to His promptings to make you aware that something is not right and take action ASAP. Best wishes to everyone, take care of yourself and may God bless you.

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