The Seventh Night & The Curse of the Snorer

Whilst I confess that I have never been the most dynamic person but I have, over the last three years, been slowing down. Throughout 2003, I was run down and suffered from a serious of nasty sinus infections. The quacks pumped me with antibiotics – generally without a proper examination.

By the end of the year, I was going downhill fast; it was decided that I required the attentions of an ear, nose and throat doctor (otolaryngologist). He decided that I needed a “nose job*. Unfortunately, things just got worse afterwards. I was just tired, tired, tired and grotty (and grumpy, according to my wife), to boot.

It wasn’t until late 2004 that a young GP considered that I might have sleep apnoea (apnea in the US) and referred me to an excellent respiratory and sleep physician. (It should be noted that the fact that I snored badly and stopped breathing when asleep had been vouchsafed to both the Ear/Nose/Throat specialist, an allergist and another GP, who took no apparent notice.)

I was sent for a sleep study which found that I was suffering from “very severe sleep apnoea”. Too true. By this time, I had given up driving and was falling asleep in alarming ways – walking through the house, shaving, swallowing food. I was unable to do anything apart from fall asleep and be grumpy and I’m far too young for that type of lifestyle!

The study showed:

  • My “arousal index” was 115 – normal being less than 10, severe over 45
  • I was having apnoeas, on average, forty times per hour.
  • My breathing stopped for seventeen seconds on average, with a nadir of about fifty seconds.
  • My blood oxygen saturation was well down.

Not good. Really not good.

To cut a long story short, I was sent for another sleep study, this time using a CPAP machine; my arousal index went down to 5.6 and I woke up feeling great(ish), despite a disturbed night wired up to a load of machines. I am now doing a home trial on CPAP and am coming on leaps and bounds.

After having only been able to do about four weeks work in the last eighteen months, I sure need a break.

And the moral of this story? If you snore badly, get checked by a doctor; if it’s apnoea, it could ruin your life if left unchecked. Also don’t leave a doctor’s office until you have been given satisfactory service; they may not understand the problem so make sure that you get a referal to someone who does. Remember – we live in a market economy now; we are not patients, we are customers and should make sure that we get our money’s worth.

* Septoplasty and bilateral turbinectomy