19 April 2007

Try it Without Breathing

The Greek word apnea, means literally “without breath.”

Too much of that can cause “without life.”

That is never good.

I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. I have been chronically exhausted for about a year. I have been depressed.

Not blue. Not suicidal. Not sad. More...flat. Nothing has much appeal. Spring came and went last year and I never noticed. Summer went by. I didn’t notice. Winter. And here we are again. Spring.

I dread it, mostly. Its damn insistence on re-birth and joy. Its moments of sun that send those around me into paroxysms of glee, hope, mirth. I just don’t care. It feels like an imposition. Buzz off. Don’t tell me I have to go out and play. I have no idea anymore why people do that. Play, I mean. I just don’t really care.

See? Depressed. Flat. I can see it. But I can’t will it away.

My friend SN, concerned about the change in me and my unrelenting lack of interest in anything, told me about her mother. She was “depressed.” Eventually doctors decided to do a sleep study and determined she had sleep apnea. She was treated for it and feels better. No more needing to pull off to the side of the road on the way home from work just to sleep.

People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing, sometimes hundreds of times a night, often for minutes at a time. Again, I’m tellin’ ya, that is never good.

The brain, good ol’ brain, arouses one from sleep in order for them to breathe. Sleep is therefore fragmented and of poor quality. People rarely get to REM levels of restorative sleep or only get there for short periods of time.

No restorative sleep. Bad.

The neurologist who interpreted the data from my sleep study determined that I slept about 6 hours out of 8. Not because I was reading, or star-gazing, mind you, because my brain had to keep arousing me from sleep so I would breathe.

I was waked from sleep by said brain 178 times. Normal sleepers wake 5-7 times, although it’s not the sort of wakefulness that we remember.

I spent less than an hour in REM the entire night. Normal, restorative REM is 90-120 minutes per 8-ish hours of sleep a night.


I get to wear one of these:

What has happened to me?

I'm listening to the tune "Perforated Sleep" by Leo Kottke from the album: Guitar Music


Gwen said...

I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis of sleep apnea. The good news is that you were diagnosed, and that it is treatable. I've been told that the c-pap is hard to get used to, and you may need to get the air flow adjusted so you don't feel overwhelmed. There are a few styles of face masks too, so if one doesn't work you can try another one for your c-pap machine. Not to mention that you will look and sound a little like darth vader. You can practice your "Luke, I'm your faaaathhhhhhheeerrrr" impression now! LOL! If you can stand to wear it, it will make a big difference!


Lee Hartsfeld said...

Yikes! I can't say. You're skin is grey and pretty featureless, and there's a masculine shape to the head and neck....

Oh, sorry! I'm, looking at the demonstration head. Looks nothing like you, let me say. That's a relief, because I was wondering what could have happened to you.

Lousy humor aside, glad your condition is easily treated. At least the mask looks far more comfortable than the gas masks we had to don during Navy drills. More chic, too. To the extent that a face mask can be "chic."


Stickman said...

You've joined the growing number of apnea sufferers the world over. The CPAP isn't that hard to get used to, and the benefits are usually quite impressive; I've gotten the best sleep of my life since I got mine. And in case you think you're alone, I work in an office with three other people, and all of us have CPAPs!

Best of luck.


CrimsonCrow said...


(baaaaad joke!)

thanks for the concern and good wishes. i sure hope it helps!

CrimsonCrow said...


first let me welcome you to my blog.

second i wonder how you found it!

third, thank you so much for the encouragement and info.

i am a bit nervous about all this but i am hopeful it will make a difference.

sn said...

It will seem odd to wear at first, but then you will feel so much better that you won't mind at all. And since Mom started wearing hers, she gto a nw man, and he hasn't run away screaming yet... so you never know what feeling better will bring. :-)

Viv said...

I've been using a c-pap for about 7 years now - even took it to London when I went 4 years ago. I can't sleep without it.


I'm not sleeping through movies, through my visits w/ my nieces and nephews AND not falling asleep on customers.

You'll forget you're wearing it.

Take care

CrimsonCrow said...

Well sn, I am already pretty used to it although a bit embarrassed about people seeing me with it. In the first month of using it 5 people have already seen me in it!

I hope I don't get a new man!

CrimsonCrow said...


Thank you so much for your encouragement and kindness.

I am getting used to it and actually feel more secure using it. I feel noticeably better after just a few weeks.

I am curious how you found my blog!

Please, feel free to come back to visit!

I had my second sleep study to determine the right pressures for me. I am awaiting the study interpretation and response from the neurologist...

CrimsonCrow said...

gwen, how do you know so much about it!?

And for the record, I am getting better every day with my "Luke, I'm your faaaaaaathhhhherrrrr!" impression!

Gwen said...

Crimson Crow -

I do know a lot about it, don't I? My step father was diagnosed with sleep apnea and has had a c-pap for many years. I also had a boyfriend with sleep apnea last year, which was my first close encounter with sleep apnea and the c-pap. It's scary being next to someone who stops breathing, but only strange when the c-pap is being used. Strange is better than scary anyday!! Glad to hear that your Darth Vader impression is getting better!! :o)