Hi all, just thought I'd share my story on this great thread particularly for those who may suspect they might have sleep apnoea and are thinking about doing something about it. A little bit about me, I'm a 38 year old male with no significant health issues. I'm in decent shape, ex rugby player and do a fair bit of gym work so despite a fat % well within the acceptable range, I'm over a 100 kilos and at 6 feet tall this is probably on the heavy side. Definitely have a bigger neck that most people, getting a shirt that fits my neck but isn't way too big everywhere else is always an issue! I've also broken my nose several times and can't breathe clearly thought it. I don't drink a huge amount. So while the broken nose, being a bit heavy and a big neck might point towards a possibility sleep apnoea, hardly in the high risk category....or so I thought.
I've always been a very heavy snorer, I've terrorized several ex girlfriends and my partner now has to sleep in a separate bedroom. One important note though, none of them ever observed me gasping for breath, though they did say that it would seem like I had stopped breathing for short periods. I also never wake up gasping for air or similar. Anyway over the last few years I've noticed that I felt progressively worse in the mornings, never feel like I'd had a good sleep and a lot of the time I would feel extremely anxious in the mornings. Sometimes even light headed but almost always generally just feeling like absolute crap. It also takes me ages to 'come to' in the mornings, at least an hour before I felt even somewhat alert. Despite all of the above though, I never ever doze during the day or take naps and never nod off watching TV etc.. For this reason I never considered I could have sleep apnoea, to me that was something for overweight people in their fifties who fall asleep driving to work. And I mean no offense by that comment I'm just trying to explain my thought process, and also my ignorance.
Around January of this year I started getting severe heart palpitations and my anxiety went through the roof. I ended up going to the Beacon rapid access cardiology clinic (highly recommended) and after getting every test known to man, everything was normal. The consultant was sure exhaustion, stress and anxiety were the cause. I didn't feel tired, but he said I looked absolutely shattered!
Long story short I ended up back with the GP and after trying and failing to get to the root of the stress and anxiety she suggested a sleep study (after we talked about how I feel most anxious in the morning) and referred me to St. Vincent's private. I got the appointment very quickly but to be honest I wasn't too impressed with the consultant, seemed very old school - he took my height and weight asked me a few questions then proceeded to rattle off a load of waffle about sleep apnoea that I had already read after a quick Google beforehand and that was about it. To be fair to him, the sleep study I'm sure is the only way to diagnose sleep apnea so not sure what I was expecting but I left feeling thoroughly unimpressed after paying €200 for a 10 minute consultation! Anyway, he referred me to have the polysomnography.
After a very long wait (pandemic wouldn't have helped) of 6 months I went in to have the sleep study in mid August. I was still fairly skeptical that I had sleep apnoea (also I'd since done the epworth sleepiness quiz and not scored particularly high) so when they hooked me up to all the electrodes and machines etc. and told me to go to sleep I seriously considered walking out! Don't get me wrong, the staff were absolutely brilliant and the room was great, it was just I couldn't imagine sleeping a wink with all that gear in me! Thankfully I got over myself, accepted my fate, and surprise surprise I did in fact sleep. In so far as my body allows me to sleep as the results revealed.
The results came back a week or so later and lo and behold I have been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. I averaged 61 apnea / hypopnoea events per hour with a minimum oxygen desaturation of 78%. According to my doctor and supported by doing a bit of reading (and this thread!) those numbers firmly put me in the severe category.
So despite all my skepticism and not really ticking a lot of the boxes I ended up with those results. And now with the benefit of hindsight after I got over the initial shock and I really thought about it, I have felt like crap for a long time. Anxiety, depression, no interest in doing things that I used to enjoy, demotivated, feeling physically ill a lot (but not actually ill), the list goes on....... All symptoms of exhaustion. And just because you don't fall asleep a lot doesn't mean you are not exhausted.
So finally I would implore anyone who can relate to any of the above, go to your GP and get yourself tested!! Don't leave if for years like I did! I am going in early next week for the CPAP trial, no guarantees it will solve all of this and I know it takes getting used to but I am very optimistic life is about to get at least a bit better
P.S I'll post my experiences about the CPAP trial if people are interested.