In 1996 I married by wife, Daphne and we both looked forward to a long happy time together. For the first 3 years the plan seemed to be a reality, however in the 4th year I started to loose my drive in my life.
My job was challenging enough and at the time both of us put my fatigue down to this. But as the weeks turned into months, the months into a year, neither of us could understand what was taking it out of me.
Little did I know it at the time but I had descended into a vicious cycle whereby my body and mind slowly grind to a halt. All I could do was wake, try to survive the day and then sleep. My marriage came under tremendous strain as I shut out those closest to me. Fatigue and depression isolated me from the outside world and I am ashamed to say that it wasn’t pleasant for Daphne throughout this.
I was fortunate that my employer at the time provided private medical cover and over this time I had seen countless specialists for various conditions such as leg craps, dry/itchy skin, acid reflux. The list of symptoms went on and so did the specialists I kept on being referred onto! I cannot even remember why I was re-referred to Dr McGivern. From what I could tell he was a chest specialist and my chest was about the only thing not giving any problems!
The weekend before my appointment, Daphne told me ‘You know you stop breathing at night’.
Obviously I thought she had gone mad but she insisted on accompanying me on my visit. She proceeded to tell this to Dr McGivern and produced a recording of it. At that moment, I first heard the words ‘Sleep Apnoea’ mentioned and although I knew absolutely nothing about the condition, a huge weight was lifted from both our shoulders. We now knew what the problem was and that was our turning point. As an illness, it didn’t just affect me but the both of us and together we were going to overcome it.
After eventually receiving treatment, my life slowly but surely started to re-build itself. My relief soon gave way to frustration though, frustration that this illness devastated both our lives. At the very outset, I help in the formation of the Humber Sleep Apnoea Support Group, first as the Secretary and latterly as Chairman.
I still have problems, mainly with masks and there are very few out there I haven’t tried. But there is no return to those dark days anymore. At every chance I try and raise awareness. I have travelled extensively throughout Europe, the States and Southern Africa with my CPAP machine and am always willing to demonstrate, promote and answer questions. All driven by the desire never see someone suffer the way we had to go through.
Allan D. Robins
Humber Sleep Apnoea Support Group