Saturday, May 12, 2012

Depression or Deprivation? My Struggle with Sleep Apnea

     For the past year, I have been treated for depression. Nothing has really seemed to work. I still showed all the classic signs of depression. Irritability, mood swings, sleeping all the time, trouble concentrating, etc. I have tried Paxil, Celexa, and Wellbutrin, along with Klonopin for anxiety and nothing seemed to work. What was even more odd, is that I have always been an even mooded person. I wasn't always an asshole. I got along with most everyone, and everyone kept telling me I was out of character. I always blamed it on the depression even though treatment wasn't helping. 
     What if it never really was depression brought on by life changes? What if this entire time, it has been something completely different, and I have been treating the wrong disease? Don't get me wrong...there is no doubt that I have been suffering from Depression, but why haven't the meds helped?
     I have noticed lately that I get tonsilitis A LOT, in fact every morning when I wake up, my tonsils are huge, and I can barely swallow. I have been having a hard time getting going in the mornings, and I never feel rested in the mornings. In fact, I feel worse when I wake up than when I went to bed. I get headaches now, I catch myself snoring, I wake up and I have completely turned the sheets around. I often wake up with night sweats. I finally convinced myself that maybe it was time for a sleep study. 
     I knew absolutely nothing about sleep apnea, I had done ZERO research on it, but Dr. Golden recommended a sleep study. He gave me a referral and I had my first sleep study done on 5/7/12. 
     Its nothing like you would expect....at least not at my hospital. The sleep rooms are like hotel rooms. Flat panel TV's, a queen size bed, private bathrooms, individual thermostats....very cozy. I showed up and they explained to me exactly what they would be measuring. Snoring, oxygen levels, breathing, leg movement, eye movement, jaw movement, pulse, sleep position, sleep state, etc....I thought how in the hell can they do all that??? Then I quickly learned. They do it by GLUING what feels like a hundred diodes all over your body including in your hair, and in my case, my beard. However, thats not all....first they scrub the hell out of the areas that will be glued by what can only be described as liquid sandpaper. Here is me after the "Initial diodes". Keep in mind that this is only the head. You can tell how happy I am at this point...Im mainly grumpy because there is gauze and metal things glued into my beard.

     From here, I was left to wander the room for about 40 minutes while my tech finished up with her other patient.This was probably the easiest part, because I sat in the recliner and watched family guy. My tech gets back into the room and asked me to sit in this chair, which I now know was a MISTAKE, because it was in the chair where the real misery comes in. She inserts these rigid metal wires into my nose! She then sticks one of those rubbery oxygen tube things up there, so that my nose is stuffed. She then taped the stuff to my face. When all was said and done this is what I looked like.

     What you cant see is the diodes on the back of my head, on my legs, and on my chest. I eventually went to sleep, and was aroused at about 6AM feeling like shit as usual. I was greeted by a million questions about how I slept, and had to answer each on a scale of 1-9, yes 9....I didn't get it. She then doused me in acetone to remove the glued in stuff and sent me home. 
     I got a phone later that day and they told me that the doctor had looked at my results and they were ready and that I had also left my glasses on the night stand (I looked for them all morning). I went to pick up my results, and I was floored by them. I slept for 7.6 hours. I had 457 Respiratory events that lasted 10 seconds or more each. Thats 93 per hour! One every 45 seconds!!! I inquired how it was possible for me to enter rem sleep...they said I never did enter REM sleep. IN FACT (and I just learned this bit last night), out of the 7.6 hours I slept, only 25 minutes of it was spent in "restorative level 2 sleep". 
     I immediately looked up information on this and learned that anything over 30 episodes per hour is considered severe, and guess what....Sleep apnea can cause Depression, mood swings, irritability, trouble concentrating, fatigue, etc. Pretty much ALL the things that I associated with depression. So is the depression my problem???? Or is it a symptom? The only way to find out is by using a CPAP and seeing if I can get better. 
     Last night I came back to the hospital for my second test, this time with a CPAP machine, and for the first time in FOREVER I dreamed. I didn't realize that I hadn't been dreaming, I just assumed I wasn't remembering them. However, I was never entering REM sleep. The tech told me this morning, that I must have been deprived because I spent a lot of time in REM sleep. Of course, I dreamed about the mask, but it was still a dream. My pressure was set to 17 on the CPAP machine before I quit snoring.

     I guess all that is left now, is to find a mask that DOESNT look like this one, and see if my depression goes away. Its crazy to think that it could be alleviated by a CPAP. 

     The important thing is, now I know why I always feel too tired to stick with my exercise routine, Heres to  hoping for better sleep and moods in the future, and as always, I will keep you guys updated.