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Jon Osburn and OOIDA’s Tour Truck, the Spirit of the American Trucker, are at the ATHS National Convention and Antique Truck Show. That takes place at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Stop in, say hi to Jon, and join OOIDA for a $10 discount. See the full Spirit Schedule. Air date: May 25, 2017.

Daily Blog Archive

Sweet dreams are (not) made of these …

Apnea, if you aren’t familiar with the term, is a Greek word that literally means “without breath.”

A week ago, I went to an area hospital to have a sleep study done. I went kicking and screaming. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I might have a sleep disorder; it had more to do with the thought of strapping some terrible mask to my face every night at bedtime.

Sleep apnea is not just a trucker’s issue. It occurs in all age groups and both sexes. I didn’t think I fit the profile. I work out with weights and I run. I’m not super skinny, but I’m certainly not overweight, and I don’t have a large neck. Unfortunately, doctors and clinics in the past have used those criteria alone to order testing for truck drivers.

The tests can be pricey without insurance, but you can do a self-evaluation to assess the possibility that you might have a problem. The Harvard School of Medicine makes one available online.

I have always enjoyed my sleep. I have listed it as a hobby on questionnaires. Twelve hours on a Friday or a Saturday was not uncommon. I was in bed by 10 p.m. and up by 9 a.m., and this was usually followed by a midday two-hour nap. I told myself I was catching up from the week. I was formerly a morning radio personality who was at work by 4 a.m. (I don’t miss that schedule).

Yeah, I knew something was wrong, but the prospect of that damn mask and machine made me ignore the obvious symptoms: excessive daytime sleepiness, memory and concentration problems, morning headaches, etc.

My husband had been nagging me to be tested, but I ignored his pleas. It was my stupid Fitbit that sold me out.

My new Fitbit that I received at Christmas, the thing that counted my steps each day also tracked my sleep. Instead of showing periods of deep restorative sleep, it showed quite the opposite. I was getting little to no deep sleep but experienced a night of restlessness and being awake. No wonder I struggled to keep my eyes open during the day.

I checked into the sleep center at 8 o’clock on a Sunday night and – after signing a few papers – in came the nurse with all these wires. She proceeded to glue these things to my legs, my arms my face and chest and all over the top of my head. The question I asked her was, “You really expect me to sleep tethered to all this”?

Well, yes they did, and yes I did – I slept, or at least I thought I was sleeping.

Sleep apnea is measured by the number of “events,” as they call them, that happen in an hour. Anything under five is considered none or minimal, and anything over 30 is considered severe.

 Lucky me – I had more than 30 events where I wasn’t getting enough oxygen.

So sometime around 1 a.m., in walked Nurse Ratched. Actually, she was a wonderful woman named Sheila, but she carried with her a variety of contraptions for me to try on. She told me the next morning that if looks could kill she’d have been dead when she walked into the room with those masks and tubes.

I tried on two masks. Neither was a full-face mask, but I settled on the second one with nasal pillows. When she first put it on my face, I thought there was no way in Hell I was going to be able to sleep like this. But not only did I sleep, it was the best sleep I had had since – well, since I can’t remember.

They told me I suffered from a combination of sleep apnea and hypopnea. Hypopnea isn’t so much not breathing, but breathing that is so shallow that you’re still not getting enough oxygen.

I forgot how good I could feel after a good night’s sleep. I wish I hadn’t ignored my husband’s insistence all these years. But let’s keep that between us.

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