Sleep Issues On and Off All My Life
I don’t know when I developed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) but lately, I have been thinking it’s been a decade or 2. It’s hard to know for sure because I have had sleep issues on and off all throughout my life. Getting my sleep apnea diagnosis after intermittent sleep issues took time.
Intermittent sleep issues
I think I was around 10 years old when I first started having sleep issues. Before that, I have been told even as a baby, I would sleep solid through the night. When I started having sleep issues, it was about 6 months to a year into having restless leg syndrome (RLS) and fibromyalgia. Both were diseases that I had no idea I had.
I was told it was just growing pains causing my legs to feel like the muscles were constantly in a painful spasm. The urge to move them at night when they got like that was impossible to resist. Growing pains is why there were times small areas on my wrists felt like the skin had been rubbed raw.
Naturally, I was told the change in my sleep was also due to growing. This was my new norm for about 6 years before things changed again.
Fear of falling asleep
I also remember at some point during all of that, I ended up developing a fear of falling asleep. I know that sounds very strange; but, it is something that ended up being an issue for several years. The thing that I found scary was the act of losing consciousness. This kind of ties in with my fear of death.
Having this fear on top of my sleep issues and RLS made for quite the battle when it came time to try to fall asleep. Many times, I would turn to meditation to help me fall asleep.
Lucky changes to my sleep
Out of the blue, my RLS stopped being an issue and I started to sleep better overall. It wasn't taking as long to fall asleep every night and I was staying asleep for 8 hours. I don't know why things changed, my diseases were still untreated and undiagnosed.
Also, I was not exercising more and I hadn't changed my diet, I just got lucky. It was so nice to be able to sit without needing to worry about my RLS and the impending urge to move my legs. I never had to get out of the vehicle and stretch every hour or 2 on road trips. I remember that time fondly and miss it so much.
Sleep issues return following surgery
In 2011, I had a large gallstone in my gallbladder. It was decided that the best option was to just remove my gallbladder entirely. Little did I know my health was going to take a dramatic dive for the worse. Nothing in the surgery information I was given said anything about the possibility of developing more diseases.
My RLS and sleep issues returned with a vengeance, especially the sleep issues. I was no longer able to sleep the whole night without waking up. I was waking up every hour and a half to 2 hours. A couple of years later, I had a general practitioner (GP) who agreed that it did sound like RLS, but he never did anything about it.
Diagnosis after intermittent sleep issues
It wasn't until 2 years ago when having a sleep study for a different issue that I officially got the diagnosis of RLS and OSA. This is also when I was able to start treatment for these diseases. Finally, I am on the path to a better night's sleep.
Have you also struggled with sleep issues off and on? Please share your diagnosis story in a comment below.
Do you feel stigmatized by sleep apnea?