My experience of OSA.
I first heard of OSA when I was 36 years old in 1999. I was on holiday with friends and one morning I was told by a Dutch friend that I must see a doctor as I had OSA. I had never heard of it, but she told us all about it. As a Dutch nurse, she had had extensive training on OSA and other sleep disorders. My snoring had been the source of jokes for years and had got worse as I had spent more time travelling and staying 4 nights a week in hotels on business. This lifestyle had done nothing for my waistline and when I returned home on a Friday nights we would go for a meal with friends early doors – and by nine o’clock at night I would be asleep on the settee and snoring away. Having been “sent to bed” by my wife, in embarrassment, I would “sleep forEngland” until eleven the next day. I didn’t wake up – so I believed there was nothing wrong with my sleeping.
After our Dutch friend told me to see a Doctor, I did straight away. He had some knowledge of OSA and referred me to an ENT specialist. The specialist advised that my nasal passages were blocked and that I should have a turbonectomy, the removal of carteledge in my nose, which would assist with my breathing and hopefully make things better. After the operation I was sent back into the world with the advice to come back if there were any problems. I was now back at home 5 days a week but driving for an hour and a half every day from Ashford to Croydon – leaving at six every morning.
Nearly another year passed, and when I started to fall asleep at the wheel on the M25, I realised I needed to do something more. I had a sleep study and was diagnosed with OSA – having over 300 episodes a night, and ceasing to breathe for upto 2 minutes at a time. Given this knowledge I didn’t wait but bought a machine privately – at the time the waiting list was over 6 months – and this was at one of the main hospitals in London!
The first few weeks with the machine were murder – I hated the mask, trying a full face, mouth mask and then eventually a nasal one – as I had worked hard to breathe through my nose. I was given a “buddy” and we corresponded by email. He helped me a lot with knowledge, tips and the determination to keep going. The effect was instantaneous – I felt far more awake, more energy and my ambition returned.
So profound was the affect on my life, that I felt the need to tell others about OSA, the consequence being to join the HSASG and to give presentations on the sleep disorder to groups to spread awareness. My key message to anyone diagnosed with Sleep Apnoea – you’re not alone – please persevere with CPAP – it really is worth it.