Tag Archive: sleep apnea

“living” with sleep apnea

I have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a condition where, during the night, my throat/airway closes up and I stop breathing.  Usually, a person notices the obstruction, wakes up, coughs and falls asleep only after the airway has reopened.  

It is the frequency and duration of these obstructions that are the key.  Right now I’m at about 15 apneas, with up to 50 seconds “toleration.”  That means my body lets me go 50 seconds before it jumps me awake.  My blood-oxygen level also drops to 60% at it’s low point, but only 1-2 times a night (doctors usually get worried if it’s less than 95%).

I am not going to say how bad that is because I’m not up to date on what is “bad” or “really scary.”  But I do know that 2 years ago, during my last battery of tests, I was at 11 apneas and 25 seconds, with a blood/ox of 75%.  My very first test, in 1997, I had 0 apneas and a blood/ox low of 80%. 

As I said, I am not saying how bad of a trend this is, but I do know that I’m 30, and that many don’t experience the effects of apnea until they are significantly older.  So I’m kind of “starting” young on this one.  Young by most any standards (I’m 30 now, but when I was diagnosed I was 18).

I have always been torn about how significant to make my OSA sound. (more…)

compound sleepiness

A compound growth problem is an exponential one. Instead of things just doubling or going up by, say, 5% over time, where if you mapped it out you’d get a nice straight line that just goes up and up, exponential growth curves upward at a steeper and steeper rate. So instead of it growing at 2x (2, 4, 8, 16, 32), it grows at x^2 (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64).

Right now, I’m dealing with the usual apnea baseline. I keep my CPAP mask on for maybe 2 hours a night (though I have managed 4 hours 3 out of the last 7 nights, which isn’t bad). Throw in allergies, and I have congestion problems during the night, which makes it even harder to breath in general.

Then, during the day, allergies make me fuzzy, which adds to my existing sleepiness that I have everyday.

So my sleepiness curve is compound.

And it really, really stinks.

It’s amazing how something as “simple” as sleep deprivation, little by little, day after day, year after year (and decade upon decade now) just wears a person down.

From Badwater Basin to Electrode City

Two evenings ago, around 1AM, I was 2 miles out from the viewing platform at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, the lowest point in North America.  I was in the middle of the valley, under an almost-full moon (86% waxing gibbous), taking an hour-long photograph (yes, 1 shot for a full hour) of the trails in the salt created by thousands of footsteps as tourists before me have wandered around.  The paths they had created were white and glowing from the moonlight, while the rest of the area was dark, the 6″ tall ridges of salt covered in dirt and hard as rock.

It was absolutely silent.  I am not sure if I have ever been in a quieter setting.  The only sound were those of the salt crunching under my feet as I wandered around during that hour, gazing at the clear sky and watching Orion slowly rotate around Polaris, the North Star.

Right now, having already gone through waking up before dawn, driving 8 hours back home to shave and change my shirt and running off to a half-day of work, I find myself sitting in the lobby of the business school where I am studying for my MBA, Blackberry on my belt, MacBook on my lap, downloading the Second Life viewer so that I can work on my avatar that has lain dormant for a couple of years now.  I have my bluetooth headset in my pocket – the one that can connect to my Blackberry and my other phone, which I use for my side job.

Tomorrow night, I will be at a Sleep Disorders Center, electrodes glued all over my body, probably sitting in a chair before going to bed so that I can utilize the free wireless to do work before I find out how bad my sleep apnea is.

Yes, they have wireless at the Sleep Center.

It’s amazing that one can go from one extreme to the other with an 8 hour drive and over such a short period of time.  Completely disconnected to not just wired but wireless and in a completely backwards way.  I’m all wired for my sleep.  And completely wireless for my computer.  And just a few days removed from Badwater Basin…