Finally feeling better!

11 03 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

I have been on overwhelm, dealing with illness (see below), and have not been writing. At all. It’s times like these that make me doubt my determination to be a writer, at least, until I remember that I’m not a ‘slow and steady’ type. I’m a sprinter, not a marathoner… in every way but literally. I work best in fits and starts, and when I’m going full-out, it’s great.

As I mentioned before, life has caught up with me, and it still has me by the throat. Last August I noticed something odd – I was Reiki-ing myself as lay on my back, and as I relaxed more and more I noticed that the back of my tongue was falling back into my throat. I thought,”That’s odd, and not a good thing!” So I slept on my side from then on. It wasn’t always comfortable, and my shoulders bother me from time to time, but oh well. Some of you know where this is going, and I did, too. Sleep Apnea. Denial is not just a River in Egypt, and I avoided doing anything about it.

This past December I was sleeping sitting up, because I was bothered by reflux. In the middle of the night I woke to a loud “GAAH!”, which erupted from deep in my throat.

Okay, there was no denying this anymore. I had a problem, and I knew it.

I called my doc and made an appointment for after the holidays, which was delayed and delayed. Eventually I had a sleep study,which was jolly. YOU try sleeping in a strange, plank-like bed, hooked up to about 30 electrodes, with some stranger watching you on infrared video, and let me know how well you sleep! I didn’t sleep much, but well enough for them to determine that I have moderate obstructive sleep apnea. I never made it to sleep stage 3 or 4, my REM sleep was 9%. Now I knew why I don’t dream. I averaged 22 ‘episodes’ in an hour, and each of those non-breathing episodes further interrupted my sleep.

The good news? My blood oxygen level never went below 91%. I’m not going to die in my sleep. The bad news? I will be sleeping with a CPAP for the rest of my life. Further good news? It works! I’m feeling better!

I had been shatteringly exhausted for weeks, and finally on March 1st I had a day when I felt almost normal. I’d been using the CPAP for just shy of a week before I could tell any difference in how I felt.

It continues to be an adventure. Fitting the mask so it doesn’t leak is a work in progress, and I get contact dermatitis from the plastic, so I had to buy a mask liner. I still wake up with a red spot on the bridge of my nose some days, but it’s a small price to pay for FEELING BETTER.  I only have had one claustrophobic night, thank heavens. And one morning I took off the mask, then went back to sleep. I woke with a snort… a strong indication that I really do need this thing.

Given what the alternative diagnoses for my fatigue could have been (hypothyroid, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, cancer, heart failure, you name it), living with a CPAP is easy. The hose doesn’t bother me, and the machine is very quiet, so no problems there. One problem: I like to read myself to sleep, and it’s hard to see my kindle with the mask on. I haven’t been reading much in consequence.

Before I got the CPAP I was running on fumes. Exhausted, emotionally strung out, unable to do more than the bare necessities. It was work/food/trying to sleep, and some days I had to call in sick. The work I do is very mentally taxing, quite intense… and I just wasn’t up for it. But now I’m gradually able to add more to my life. Like meeting up with writer friends (Hi, SJ! Hi, Ali!) Getting back on twitter, blogging… and…




9 responses

11 03 2012
Karen McFarland

Wow Julia, you must feel so relieved! How thankful you must be. I have CFS so I know how it is to feel exhausted. But you got the help that you needed. It’s so hard to go to the doctor for many of us. We just don’t want to deal with things. And there’s so much stuff to deal with all the time. But this is good news. I am so happy for you! This is life changing! Awesome! 🙂

12 03 2012
Julia Indigo

You cannot IMAGINE how relieved I am. Today I went in for a CPAP mask fitting, as the one I was wearing wasn’t really working. When I told the nurse of a symptom I’d had in **2005**, where a couple times I woke up and had a hard time going back to sleep because I would literally stop breathing, she said, ‘that’s sleep apnea!’. Bloody doctor told me it wasn’t, that it was just anxiety. If he had been more knowledgable I might have been treated starting SEVEN years ago.

Not only that, but apnea and depression symptoms mimic each other. I’ve been on depression meds for decades, literally. Once I get back to a state of recovered sleep, I wonder whether or not I’ll even need them anymore. Wouldn’t THAT be great??!!!

Have you considered acupuncture for CFS? DM me on twitter and tell me where you are, I can probably get a good recommendation for you.

12 03 2012
Samantha Warren

I’m so glad you’re feeling better! I know how bad lack of sleep can affect a person (chronic insomniac myself). I hope soon you feel refreshed and ready to write!

12 03 2012
Julia Indigo

Thanks so much, Samantha! It’s been grueling. For a long time I was writing because I so much wanted to… even though I was wasted. This winter it got to be too much, mostly because of my exhausting 3 week trip to Sydney, followed by a hellish work schedule. I just petered out. No more there. Cannot go on!

Even today I’m still craving sugar and caffeine. But I’ll be meeting @SJDriscoll in an hour at Starbucks, so I’m saving that for later. I’m dieting, because of the 15 lb weight gain over the past 6 years. I’ve been stuffing myself in an effort to have more energy, when what I needed was a good night’s SLEEP.

13 03 2012
Coleen Patrick

So glad you are on the mend Julia! Wishing you continued health–and happy writing!

16 03 2012
Julia Indigo

Thank you, Coleen! I actually got some writing on the WIP done last night, and will have a blogpost out tomorrow.

6 04 2012
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[…] that life was going to intervene, and I wouldn’t finish Round One. I discovered that I had sleep apnea, and dealing with that reality continues to occupy a good amount of my psychic energy. There are […]

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[…] thing for me, this time around. Last time my health issues got the better of me, but that is more or less in the past, and I’m looking forward to the next several months. Except for the temperature part. Summer […]

20 05 2012
In which I Write: Row80 Update « Julia Indigo

[…] my daily/weekly word count and minutes of exercise back in the last week of January 2012. Given my various health issues, I had a huge slump in Feb/Mar/Apr, which I tried to not beat myself up about. My best week was the […]

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