Sierra , I am very lucky in that I didn't have diabetes or heart issues when recently tested …I think with my history this is just sheer luck, looking at this now my delay in taking care of the apnea was really a big life risk and stupid careless, this affected a lot of people around me also.
I implore anyone who has symptoms to get help and medical attention , no career or amount of money is worth blowing this off , Not to mention taking care of your loved ones and being around for them. If you know anyone that is behaving oddly , like visibly tired, forgetful , seriously cranky , argumentative and slow to react etc.
Ask them if they want to talk or need help in anyway , sometimes as in my case I was worried about my employment so I hesitated to talk about this until the last few months before getting help. I know this seems strange but you may just save this persons life by asking them are you Okay ?
I am very thankful everyday and appreciate time , what you say is so true about the CPAP technology where would we be with out it .
Thank you for reading .
I would like to share my experiences with severe sleep apnea disorder and how it destroyed my professional career and affected my personal life , I’ll pick up around 1998 or so ,I began work at an engineering job that required traveling and staying in hotels basically by the week, at that time when I was home, I could sleep in the same room with my wife, she would mention regularly that I was snoring would stop breathing and then gasp, roll over and take in a deep breath of air only to repeat this minutes later.
Well years went by, I started my own successful business and of course this required staying in hotels all over the United States, mostly in the mid-west, at best schedule 2 weeks on the road 2 weeks at home, gradually my wife and I had to sleep in different rooms because of the worsening apnea symptoms, I told myself I didn’t have time to take care of this, work is the most important thing and wow I am building my business not to mention all the ongoing responsibilities around the home front continuing to grow..
I didn’t take the time to take a serious look at my personal life or home life, Now I realize there was always things I took for granted, just kept pushing myself to be successful and make money never realizing that I was changing mentally and physically.
2017 comes and goes business is good, I am extremely tired and completely burnt out, I find myself to be very angry and irritable most of the time and with no energy, but still traveling to customer sites and working away the days and hours.
Can you imagine driving 13 hours straight Sunday, checking in at the hotel Sunday night, going through the untreated and ignored sleep apnea and showing up at the plant the following Monday morning 6 am? Then 7 days a week 12 to 14 hours shifts, logging into the systems at night from the hotel to re-check and verify operations.
I pushed myself to do exactly this for many years. Not to mention the many bad weather and traveling experiences along the way.
Finally, 2018, it hit me hard mentally, I didn’t feel well period and decided to get a job at a somewhat local engineering firm, basically giving them my business and customers, this was crash and burn for me I needed to get off the road. Still, I ignored the apnea thinking I would be fine once I had a regular 8 to 5 job and could access the situation further.
Working at my new job after a few months was mental torture, I was unable to comprehend how this company could be in business and so in-efficient and lax. The mistakes that were made by them on projects I was working on was intolerable to me. I couldn’t believe I had done this to my career and future. I hated it and this added to the massive stress I was feeling.
Fast forward to late 2019 or so, I am offered a job as an engineer at an upstart manufacturing group of facilities. It was great at first and yes, I continued to ignore my health, I was very pleased and motivated to do what I loved, Design, build and program control systems. I didn’t realize my ongoing mental state decline and behavior outwardly toward individuals I worked with. I was required to work a lot of overtime on the various projects they needed to be completed. Yes, I felt worse.
Then the ongoing and developing emphasis on interacting with less than knowledgeable individuals and increased employer requirements, my declining and limited mental reasoning ability got me in big trouble, I didn’t realize how bad my behavior toward others had become. Toward the end I don’t remember how but I had a sleep study. The results were 90 events in an hour, I was immediately asked to use a CPAP machine. The next few months are a complete blur to me at best.
I do remember being completely paranoid about losing my job and asking my manager if everything was okay, seemed to me this was weekly or every other week or so, I felt like I was losing control and going to lose my job, I remember asking about my job security this one time and he raised his voice and said I haven’t done anything wrong. Still, I didn’t feel secure in my position.
I tried everything to use the CPAP machine, different masks different everything, sleeping in expensive special chairs, medication, nothing helped, I couldn’t get more than I think an hour of sleep total. This continued for months, Finally I gave up trying, I looked into surgery and implant options. I kept feeling worse and worse.
During and over this time, I had a confrontation with my then manager over what I thought was asked of me, I had been out of my mind tired, just exhausted and completely lost my ability to reason. I do remember being told more than once that his door was always open.
So, during this confrontation and heated discussion I felt attacked and provoked, out of pure duress I indicated I was talking early retirement not realizing I had made a non- reversible decision and destroyed my credibility. This included the loss of my much-needed employment.
After this I tried to explain and even asked for help many times both before and after this resulting in nothing, this was the response even though I gave them every ounce of effort and energy I had left in me literally. I guess I felt like they would help me as I did tell my then manager the result of my sleep study and that I was tired more than once.
The last thing I remember my former manager seemed to enjoy saying while walking passed me and looking over his Shoulder “Self-fulfilled Prophecy” ……If he only realized the situation and circumstances, you know thinking about this why should he care? I guess I would care.
Fast forward a month, devastated after losing my job completely, I went back to trying to recover myself and after a few weeks I realized how bad of condition I was both physically and mentally. I was overweight, absolutely exhausted and found my self falling a sleep seconds after sitting down.
I was now getting terrible headaches that were much worse than before. The final straw was when I had an eye exam and was told I had high blood pressure. I didn’t realize what I had done to myself. I began monitoring my blood pressure the next few days and bang it hit 200 over 90 while sitting still in a chair, I went in to emergency and Luckily after about 4 hours it settled down.
I forced myself to try the CPAP machine again and again being my only option, after about six nights of getting mad and pulling the mask off out of frustration then leaving it alone for a few days, seeing my blood pressure at 165 sitting still in a chair …. I finally after more attempts fell asleep with it on my face laying on my side.
There are no words to describe the next morning and how I felt ...Something was new and different.
I felt somehow renewed like never before. Today I am able to almost sleep thru the night with CPAP.
I hate it but I feel much better, no worries looking to the future and my blood pressure is normal.
Every day is better and brighter for me. Looking back now this condition is devastating at the least.
The hardest part so far going forward has been recovering my employment. I can’t travel like the earlier days anymore.
Please don’t ever ignore your health no matter what. David Stuart