Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sunday: Apnea, Hiking, pain and bullriding

I believe that I have sleep apnea back into my life.

A couple of years ago, I wrestled with this condition, to the extent that I'd wake up with a burning in my chest from having stopped breathing, and having to make a conscious effort to get my breathing going again, even though that was painful to do.

I talked with my main injury doctor and he referred me to a sleep clinic. I underwent both daytime and nighttime sleep studies. Unfortunately, the sleep expert was having personal problems and didn't know that I existed. Not long after my studies, he closed down shop. Good for him, but not for me.

I did get to have a good visit with one of his assistants who said he was not a sleep expert, but was in fact a spine surgeon who decided to change his focus. He was very honest and forthright. I learned things from him as he gave me clear answers to my questions.

He told me that I would never just stop breathing at night and never wake up. He said the will to breathe is just too strong in people. He also told me that if a person's sleep apnea were caused by central nerve damage, such as brainstem compression, their diagnostic machines would not register it.

My study just came back saying that I did not have apnea, but I had too many "unexplained arousals" at night. No one cared enough to pursue further on why I have this issue, but I've gotten used to doctors not caring, so this was nothing new.

This problem seemed to disappear for me. But lately, it has returned. And I recognize the signs right away.

My husband says that I snore a couple of times and then wake myself up. Then I repeat this over and over, all night. I notice that I seem to fall asleep, then come awake, but not fully awake, like not quite breaking the surface of the lake when swimming underneath the water. Then I go right back to sleep and right back into whatever I was dreaming, only to come almost fully awake again, enough that I'm aware of it. It's a very strange thing.

And as I've posted within the last couple of weeks, my breathing has been having lots of problems. Yesterday, my husband was down the hall and asked me a question. I was just sitting in the chair in the living room, I wasn't out of breath, but I didn't have any breath to immediately give him an answer. I had to force myself first to take in a breath before I could speak.

Now, I'm once again experiencing this during sleep. Becoming aware that my body has just stopped breathing and I come awake in order to cognitively make the muscles and diaphragm work in order to take in a breath and get the process going.

I "napped" for about an hour this afternoon, but it felt like I woke up 20 times, immediately falling back to sleep and into whatever dream was going on. Obviously, this leads to no deep or REM sleep, and a lot of fatigue during the day.

The woods across the road finally got their call through to my heart's ears today, and I leashed up the little dog and off we went. Once well away from the road, I unhooked his leash and let him enjoy the excursion. What a wonderful hike. I admit it, I walked further than I have in a long time (I was perhaps gone 45 minutes which included several rest stops where I would linger on a nice, moss covered, square rock whenever I found one!), but I also was the MOST painful coming home than I have ever been. My legs and my feet were hurting SO badly, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and kept hoping I'd make it. Once back at home, pain meds and a soft chair helped the situation immensely.

I walked so far because I wonder if it will be six months or more before I can once again be immersed in the beauty of these woods that seem to be mine alone. I can't imagine not being able to visit the trees and deer trails and boulders; I had to remind myself that I am blessed that these myriad acres are here for me at all and that they will wait, just like they have been, for years.

Tonight, Justin McBride was crowned world champion of the Professional Bull Riders Assn. It was thrilling to watch, I've caught every one of the 7 rounds of the National finals held in Las Vegas (on TV).

1 comment:

jeffburstswimmom said...

Physical therapy for the C1 area can help the apnea if it is from the Jefferson fracture. Sleep study should of shown Central sleep apnea but my son's got worse with C1 issues due to medication and muscle strength. Also he is on a VPAP machine that has only been out since Oct 2006.