Yep, I said it. I’m not going to sit here and lie and say that I didn’t know that I was overweight. I did. I know every time I get on the scale. I know by the flabby wings under my arms. I know by the midsection that was substantially smaller before I had munch. However, that was 7 years ago. Can I really still claim him as being the reason for having a fluffy cloud for a belly? Nope.
I came head to head with the truth last Friday while sitting at the doctor’s office. I had completed a sleep study the first week in September and went to hear the results. The result was…a mild case of sleep apnea. I was unmoved. What does a mild case mean?
Well, according to my doctor during deep REM stages (3) my oxygen dropped to 85%. So, I didn’t stop breathing? There was a reduction in my oxygen levels? Yep.
He began to explain what sleep apnea was:
Sleep apnea affects the way you breathe when you’re sleeping. Your breathing is briefly interrupted or becomes very shallow during sleep. My mild case of sleep apnea reduced my oxygen level in my blood 3 times during my entire sleep to 85% each time.
Anatomy of a sleep apnea episode
As airflow stops during a sleep apnea episode, the oxygen level in your blood drops. Your brain responds by briefly disturbing your sleep enough to kick start breathing—which often resumes with a gasp or a choking sound. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you probably won’t remember these awakenings. Most of the time, you’ll stir just enough to tighten your throat muscles and open your windpipe. In central sleep apnea, you may be conscious of your awakenings.
Now, that you know what it is you know what this man recommended? A Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) machine. A CPAP machine for a mild case of sleep apnea that I will only need to use for the next 6 to 8 months. I was stunned silent. He told me that there were two treatment options: 1. a CPAP or 2. a mouth piece. He recommends a CPAP. I was stunned silent.
He asked, “Are you okay?” I replied, “Not the news that I was hoping for.” He said, “I understand, but it is a good thing that we caught it early.” I left depressed, disgusted and defeated. I had my coming to Jesus moment and realized that I needed to get my fat butt back in the gym. I had to get my weight down if I still planned to be around.
I spent most of the weekend discussing my medical history and options with my friends and co-workers and saying that I really didn’t want a CPAP machine to use for the next 6 to 8 months. I told them that for a mild case I would like to try the mouth piece and lose weight.
They encouraged my decision. I started to research what the treatment recommendations were for a mild case of sleep apnea and discovered that the Mayo Clinic said:
For milder cases of sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend only lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. And if you have nasal allergies, your doctor will recommend treatment for your allergies. If these measures don’t improve your signs and symptoms or if your apnea is moderate to severe, a number of other treatments are available.
Certain devices can help open up a blocked airway.
Yep, all signs were pointing to me losing weight (I don’t smoke). I mean seriously lose weight this time. I had been slacking off with the gym. However, I did increase my awareness on carbs and sugars and reduced both. That has resulted in a weight loss of 8 pounds from my physical last month to my appointment last Friday. Yep, I saw some light at the end of this dreary tunnel.
What did I do? I got my fat butt to the gym. I’ve worked out every day. It sucks. It hurts and I have drank more water than I thought my body could consume, but I will not live hooked up to a machine at night. I am the captain of my fate and I can determine to put down the unhealthy food and just move. Get moving and get serious about my health.
What happened next? I emailed the doctor. I told him:
Hi Dr. M,
I hope that this email finds you well. I spent most of the weekend thinking over what you told me about the results of my sleep study and that you are recommending a CPAP machine and only needing that machine for the next 6 or 8 months and the benefits of it, but I have to tell you that I don’t want it.
I would rather try to partner with you to be an advocate of my health and not be tied up to machines. I would like to try the mouth piece first and review in 6 months. My goal is to reduce my weight by 40 pounds in hopes that it along with the mouth piece will show a change from my prior test. That being said, let’s try the mouth piece first and repeat the tests to determine if my mild sleep apnea needs a CPAP.
I decided that I wanted to partner with my provider to lead a healthier lifestyle and not just commit to medications or machines. Let’s work together to get me on track. Give me a timetable. Give me a goal. Retest me. If nothing changes, then let’s talk next steps. I don’t want to take drastic measures for a mild case of anything unless it’s to reduce my caloric intake for a healthier life.
So, I’m back on track. I’m motivated by the fact that I don’t want machines or medicine. I’m motivated by the fact that I have a 7 year old that is counting on me to grow up and dance with him at his wedding. I’m counting on the fact that my fat butt needs to move!