a person is on a roller coaster that shows parts of their diagnosis journey including migraines, an ENT, and a CPAP

Accidental Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea Changed My Life

My sleep apnea was discovered by accident.

I had never heard of it; I was 19 and had migraines that started when I was 15. My neurologist at the time said, "I do not think you have it but let’s get a sleep study to rule it out as a contributing factor of your migraines."

I didn’t know what to expect, but this sleep study would be the start of a lifelong journey with sleep apnea.

My first sleep study experience

I was not sure what to expect. I packed a bag and was greeted with a ton of wires and probes that were glued to my scalp and attached all over my body. I have always suffered from insomnia, so it was different being at the hospital for the sleep study.

When I finally fell asleep, it felt like I had been there forever. They woke me up at 5:00 AM to tell me the test was complete. They told me the doctor would follow up within a week with the results.

Receiving my sleep apnea diagnosis

The phone rang and the nurse told me that I have obstructive sleep apnea and some of the highest numbers they had seen thus far, with 62 incidents per hour.

I was angry, frustrated, and scared because I did not know how to feel about it. The nurse told me the first step is to get me to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) to see if there was anything blocking my airways.

A visit to the ENT

I got to the ENT office, and I had numbing spray put in my nose and mouth to prepare for them to put the camera down my nose and throat. The doctor stopped and said, "Do you see that your adenoid is the size of a golf ball?" At that point, between the tears from the pain of the camera, I could not see anything.

Before I left, they set up a time to remove my tonsils and adenoid. I was like, Great. I have sleep apnea. Now I must get surgery and then another sleep study.

More prepared for my second sleep study

I was prepared this time for the second sleep study. I packed a nightgown, so it was easier to wire me up. I brought rubbing alcohol in my bag to try to get the glue out of my hair before I left. I brought my pillow because the ones at the hospital felt like pancakes, along with a book to read (to turn off the TV), and my phone. I tried to relax while hooked up to a million wires.

The results were a good news and bad news situation. They called to let me know that the surgery helped, but I would still need a CPAP on the highest pressure of 20 and they made an appointment for me to get fitted.

A long journey with sleep apnea

Sleep apnea has changed my life in many ways over the past 17 years. I have stopped and started using the CPAP, tried over 70 different masks, tried alternative therapy with oral devices from the dentist, tried positional therapy, and here I am again trying to make using my CPAP work.

I’ve used it for 3 weeks straight, and I still am so tired throughout the day from staying up all night adjusting the straps for leaks. Tell me about your sleep apnea journey below.

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