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Please Help Me.

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OptimisticSpringbudFox8836 +1 point · over 6 years ago Original Poster

Hello, new member here.

I have severe, untreated obstructive sleep apnea. I was first diagnosed as a college sophomore close to ten years ago. I used a CPAP machine for about a year, and then lost 80 pounds with Weight Watchers. The sleep apnea completely disappeared and I felt like a new person. Unfortunately, I’ve gained 100 pounds since that time. It’s painful for me to write that, but it’s true.

I find myself now, at 28 years old, in the worst state of health of my life. I haven’t been eating well...my diet contains far too much dairy, carbs, and fatty food and although I’m embarrassed to write this, I started smoking earlier this year. I feel like I’m on the fast track to an early death.

More than a week ago, I suffered a severe panic attack at work and have been in a state of sheer terror, nerves, digestive issues, chest pain and scary heart palpitations, and extremely foggy brain “walking around in a haze” type feeling. I know that’s another topic entirely, but this is the worst anxiety I’ve experienced in my entire life. It’s becoming debilitating at this point and I feel like I’m in hell. I ended up in the ER earlier this week but they found nothing abnormal, so I have no peace of mind.

Anyways, last night I believe I had the worst apnea episode yet. I was up until almost 4 in the morning with raging, horrifying anxiety...experiencing muscle cramps, facial, neck and head numbness and tingliness, chest pain, racing heartbeat, the list goes on. You get the picture. My throat felt like it was closing, and at one point I think I was starting to doze off but shot up gasping and choking for air. It felt like I had a trapped burp stuck in my chest that I could not relieve. It was so awful. I must have drifted off to sleep but when I woke up this morning, my throat was extremely sore and felt swollen, my jaws and face hurt, my chest and heart area hurt, I felt pressure behind my eyes and stiff neck, and again, crippling anxiety. It’s the worst I’ve ever felt. My chest feels like it’s burning.

I can’t tell if this is the anxiety wreaking havoc on my body, but I do feel like it’s making my sleep apnea much worse. I am absolutely exhausted. I’m afraid to go to sleep because I’m convinced I’m going to die.

I KNOW I need to get to my PCP ASAP, I’m overdue for a physical. I’ll admit I’ve been irresponsible up to this point, but I feel this is a life or death matter now. I’m so scared. It’s Saturday, and I’m going to call first thing Monday morning.

I know this is long, but could someone please advise me of some safety measures I can take until I have access to a CPAP machine. I should add that for more than a week, it has been difficult to breathe, not just at night but now during the day! I feel like I’m not getting enough oxygen. Should I sleep upright, like on the recliner in my living room? Is that safer? I’m so desperate and willing to do anything because I’m so terrified something bad will happen to me. Are there any over the counter aids I can get this weekend, do those nose strips work? I’ve never tried them. I’m sure there’s not much I can do, but I will do anything just to make sure I’m safe while I’m sleep, even if it only helps a tiny bit.

Also, I’m not prescribed any anxiety medication but my close friend gave me a .5 mg Ativan as a last resort, in case I have a severe panic attack or can’t sleep. Yes, I know it’s not safe to take any medication not prescribed by a doctor. But In general, can someone tell me if Ativan is safe to take for sleep apnea sufferers?

I know I need to lose weight and quit smoking, and make some lifestyle changes. And I intend to, because I can’t live like this anymore. I just want to know what I can do right now until I visit my PCP, I am so afraid to sleep but my brain can’t function and I feel like I’m going out of my mind as I’ve been enduring this hell for 9 days.

Thank you!!!!!

18 posts
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HonestCarmineCattle2572 +0 points · over 6 years ago

Though not recommended because it will relax muscles and may increase apneas, I have used it many times and the Ativan has not caused me any problems. Take it for your anxiety, which at this point seems to be the more pressing problem. There are good medications to treat panic and anxiety today, make an appointment to see a doctor. Sleep apnea in itself is not life threatening, although its' untreated longterm effects can be. Have a sleep study done and find a therapy that works for you. Good Luck. Relax

49 posts
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KindPinkGuanaco9781 +1 point · over 6 years ago

I read your post with great compassion. I am not a healthcare professional and I want to offer you the following things for your consideration:

1--Right now, you can try some deep breathing exercises to help with the panic and anxiety. Look for some on you-tube. When you are carrying anxiety like this, bring all the focus to your breath and this will help you relax.

2--Reconnect with weight watchers for a support system.

3--Try some beginning yoga to help you get back to inhabiting your body. Even 10 minutes of beginning yoga will help you feel better.

4--Contact your physician immediately about the symptoms you are having and get back on track with treatment for your sleep apnea.

5--Please do write us all back to let us know how you are doing. You have already demonstrated great care taking of yourself during your lifetime and I am confident you can do this again. Good luck!

581 posts
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sleeptech +0 points · over 6 years ago Sleep Enthusiast

I can answer a few of your questions.

Until you get a CPAP machine, sleeping in a recliner (obviously sitting up to some extent rather than dead flat) can reduce OSA for some people so it's worth a try.

Over the counter aids are useless - don't waste your time. They are legion, often quite expensive, and I have yet to hear of one that is in any way effective.

Any medication that is a muscle relaxant has a good chance of exacerbating your OSA, so I wouldn't recommend it, especially without consulting with a doctor. Also, medications for anxiety are many and using them appropriately should be a process which is carefully managed and monitored by your doctor, so it seems very unwise to me.

In order to get some treatment as quickly as possible, you could look at getting an auto CPAP, at least short term until you can have a study and the full works. In Australia they are easy to rent, although they can be expensive. It should offer some relief and piece of mind, especially if you have to wait a while before getting a sleep study. I would imagine your doctor should be willing to OK it as an urgent matter without too much rigmarole. Perhaps a phone call would be enough.

I, too, suffer from an anxiety disorder, so I really feel for you. Hang in there. I can offer you the comfort that it's not OSA that kills people, but the problems that result from it which develop over the long term. Any one particular instance of apnoea may be scary but it is not, in itself, a threat.

100 posts
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SusanR +1 point · over 6 years ago Sleep Commentator Researcher

Your post shows important insights and motivation- which are two very important steps in getting control of your apnea and improving your sleep. I hope you are able to speak with your PCP today who may want to evaluate your overall health problems as well as ask for an expedited appointment with a sleep physician. Some sleep centers have slots to quickly accommodate patients like you. If you have trouble getting to a sleep clinic and let us know where you live, we can try to help facilitate this. You are not alone! Take care and hope to hear positive things soon.

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MyApnea +0 points · over 6 years ago

To add to this, you can reach out to us directly at support@myapnea.org if you have trouble getting to a sleep clinic. Hang in there!

Please be advised that these posts may contain sensitive material or unsolicited medical advice. MyApnea does not endorse the content of these posts. The information provided on this site is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for advice from a health care professional who has evaluated you.