a woman sitting up in bed staring at the stars

Life Before My Diagnosis

I think it’s human nature when we ponder the "what if’s." Anytime we are faced with a medical diagnosis, we can find ourselves wondering "what if" I didn’t have this ailment. The "what if’s" translate to all aspects of our lives.

Obviously, if we all had the choice, no one would wish to have sleep apnea. I’ve had sleep apnea for over 25 years. It’s hard for me to remember what my life was like before using a CPAP. There are times when I imagine what it was like before my diagnosis. Some of the things I miss are the flexibility of not thinking about taking my CPAP.

A night without my CPAP is restless

Before my girlfriend and I moved in together, we would spend a few nights a week between each other’s homes. We lived about a half-hour away from each other. There were some occasions when we were close to her house, and it would have been nice to just stay over. If I hadn’t planned ahead and packed my CPAP, I would not have stayed there. A night without my CPAP is a restless and mostly sleepless night. Without my CPAP, I am a very loud snorer, and that is also disruptive to my girlfriend.

My girlfriend and I enjoy taking day trips to the beach or the mountains. There have been a few times when we stumbled upon a last-minute hotel deal where we would have liked to spend the night on a complete whim. This is another situation where if I didn’t pack my CPAP for the "just in case", we wouldn’t stay. Moments like these make me miss having spontaneity in my life.

CPAP becomes a normal part of your routine

Situations like these cause me to reminisce about my life before sleep apnea. This is not easy anymore because I received my diagnosis in my late teens. The CPAP has been a constant throughout my adult life. Even though I really miss the flexibility of not having to think about if I should pack my CPAP just in case we might spend the night somewhere. Those annoying instances don’t really factor into my overall daily life.

I would imagine most of you who are comfortable with your CPAP doesn’t really give it a second thought anymore. We have all learned firsthand that the benefits of proper sleep are something we don’t want to compromise on. The fact that we need to use a CPAP can only be seen at worst as a minor inconvenience sometimes. This is a point I hope those who are struggling with learning to adapt to CPAP will remember. You will get to a point where using CPAP becomes a normal part of your routine.

Think of your CPAP as "smart sleep"

While it’s nice sometimes to slip into the "what if’s" or remember a time before sleep apnea, remember that it doesn’t change our diagnosis. We can think back to a time before smartphones, OnDemand TV, or our favorite streaming services too. Those things are not going away, as is our sleep apnea. Think of your CPAP as "smart sleep" and soon you’ll find yourself waking up more rested.

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