Sleep Apnea and Me


Over a year ago, I visited my physician for a yearly check-up. At the end of the appointment, when she asked if I had any concerns, I told her there were times when I couldn’t remember things and my brain just seemed to be in a fog, which was a concern for me.  She asked me a few questions like, “Can you write a check without a problem?” and “Do you know what day it is?”   I got both of those answers correct, as well the answers to the other questions she asked.  “You’re fine,” she said.

I left feeling like I was just a woman, getting older, and these little memory lapses were part of that process.

But about a week later, after a very “brain foggy” day,  I told my husband, “NO, I’m NOT fine! Something is wrong with me.” I just didn’t know what.

I wear a Fitbit, and wear it for only 2 reasons: as a watch and monitor of my daily steps. But one day I was playing around with my Fitbit and looking at all of the other things it can do; one of which is to record my oxygen level when sleeping, I noticed that I had been experiencing lower-than-normal oxygen levels for quite a while. Huh. That sent me to the Internet to research what a low oxygen rate meant… which led me to a lot of information on Sleep Apnea.  I always thought those with Sleep Apnea stopped breathing during the night or woke up gasping for breath. I didn’t do that, but I did fit some of the other criteria; brain fog and always feeling sleepy, no matter how long I slept.

My next step was to purchase an Oximeter, which I faithfully wore every night for 2 weeks. Armed with the information I received from it, I visited my doctor again. When she saw my oximeter readings, she ordered a Sleep Test for me. I guess facts are more persuasive than feelings. But that’s okay. Now she knows I’m not a hypochondriac or getting senile.

Bottom line….I was diagnosed with Central Sleep Apnea and now use a APAP at night. (An APAP is like a CPAP, but there is a difference in how the airflow works.)

I was super nervous about getting the machine. I’m a bit claustrophobic, and just thinking about putting a  mask on my face gave me the shivers.  Thankfully, I adjusted very easily. I’m sure it helps that I use a “cradle” mask, which is just a little thing that goes under my nose, not on my nose, or over half of my face.

Being highly motivated to get a good night’s sleep probably helped in the transition too. The difference between how I felt when I didn’t use the APAP to how I feel when I do use the APAP,  is like night vs. day, milk chocolate vs. dark chocolate or Pepsi vs. Coke.

If you wonder why you aren’t feeling rested or if you are experiencing brain fog, consider checking your oxygen levels. You might be as surprised as I was.

Oh, and I’ve loaned my oximeter to 4 family members and 1 friend, and their oxygen was low enough that they all have doctor’s appointments scheduled too.  Is Sleep Apnea an epidemic? Or are we just now getting to the age where it is more prevalent?

Either way, I’m glad I pursued treatment. I’ll take Daylight, Dark Chocolate, and Coke any day.

{P.S. If you leave Sleep Apnea untreated, it can damage your heart and other organs, so if you even think you might have this, I encourage you to get checked out. And if you end up being diagnosed and start using a CPAP/APAP, please let me know. It will make me feel like posting this so-goofy picture me would have been worth it.)

(P.S.S. – Yep, this is me in the morning.)





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Comments (4)

  1. Jo Campbell

    Wow! We certainly need to be proactive with our health. Thank goodness you solved a problem before it became serious. Health has come a long way and we now have the means to be aware…i.e. fitbits and home monitors that were unheard of just a few years ago. Did you use the oximeter that fits on your finger. I’m wondering how it stayed on all night.

    September 1, 2023 at 11:20 am
    • HI JO, Yes, I used the Oximeter that fit on my thumb. It was very comfortable – didn’t even know it was there, and it never came off. It was a flexfit, so it fits all sizes without a problem. And YES, so glad that we have access to so many health devices now that can alert us when there is trouble ahead! Thanks!

      September 1, 2023 at 11:28 am
  2. Traci Brennan

    Thanks so much for this post, Karen! Looks like I’ll be sleeping with my oximeter for a few nights. Maybe it isn’t just me getting old(er)!

    September 7, 2023 at 2:28 pm
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