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  1. #1
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    Sleep apnea; just diagnosed; hoping for improvement
    For more than a year, I've recognized that I've been suffering from bizarre memory loss and "cognitive functioning" problems (basically, I've increasingly found it difficult to complete "multi-step" activities). I also found that I was very tired even after a full night's sleep.

    It's been an incredibly frustrating situation, because there's never any clear, "cut-and-dried" issue -- I often notice (or my wife notices) that I haven't followed up on very basic tasks, yet I have no problem completing similar tasks on the same day, or the same task on other days.

    This summer, I finally abandoned a complex project (my "datafeed project") after three years of effort (on and off), because it was clear that I simply was not making progress at a reasonable rate (I estimated that each month, I was completing about as much work as I could earlier have completed in three days -- and I was also forgetting about "work I'd already done" and "problems I'd already solved," thus repeating the same effort multiple times).

    Since last summer, I complained about this to several doctors and psychiatrists, who asked lots of questions but couldn't really offer any diagnosis.

    After switching to Kaiser this year, I met with a new psychiatrist, who quickly focused on several possible issues, one of them being "sleep apnea." He referred me for a "sleep study" (I had to wait several months for an appointment), and the sleep study confirmed that I have "severe obstructive sleep apnea." The most likely treatment will be a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device, meaning that I'll wear a mask while sleeping to insure adequate airflow so I can get into a "deep" sleep. I have to wait two more weeks before I get a machine to use for a week, to see if it helps.

    I hope this improves my memory and cognitive functioning.

    I found several very interesting relevant articles today, about Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    My husband was diagnosed with sleep apnea a few years ago. Starting on a CPAP was one of the best things he's done for his health. He started sleeping better, his mood improved, and *I* got to actually sleep without waking up to his window-rattling snoring every 30 minutes. It was tough for him to get used to it at first, but recently he said it's hard for him to sleep without it on.

    Good luck with your CPAP. I hope it helps you as much as it did us!
    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
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  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador boningroup's Avatar
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    Mark,

    I was suffering with GERDs for years. In the summer of 2005 I underwent test for sleep apnea and in October of 2005 I was fitted for a CPAP machine. Within days I no longer spent nights suffering with GERDs. Now, according to my wife, sleep like a log the minute my head hits the pillow. I have read where more doctors are studying sleep apnea and finding results for problems that their patients have been having!
    Danny W Bonin Jr
    Bonin Group, Inc.

  4. #4
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    Interesting; I also suffer from GERD (acid reflux), which was undiagnosed for about 20 years, until a doctor identified that issue about 10 years ago. Adding GERD medication was an incredible change in my life.

  5. #5
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    My one suggestion is to look at all of the many choices of mask available for the CPAP machine. Since I have difficulty breathing through my nose, the standard mask that pressurizes both the inside and the outside of my nose (fighter pilot type mask) just collapses the nasal cavity and I can't breath through my nose. They switched me to a type of mask that is basically an air tube and two nozzles that fit into my nose and pressurize only the inside nasal cavity and it works like a champ.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    My husband has GERD too. That would seem to suggest a link, wouldn't it? Off to do some research!
    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
    - Silence is golden. Duct Tape is silver.

  7. #7
    Half a Bubble Off Plumb RemodelingGuy's Avatar
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    My little brother has had sleeping problems for years, and about a year ago, his doc put him on a CPAP machine.

    He hated it at first.

    Always griping that it kept him awake.

    Now he loves it and gets a great nights sleep.

    I bought him a Sealy Posturpedic mattress about 6 months ago and he sleeps even better.

    If it's a solution to some of the problems you described, I think and hope for you, that it will be well worth it.

    I can't relate to the CPAP, as I hardly ever sleep for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time, but I can relate to the memory loss.

    I had pneumonia and was in a coma for 16 days in Jan - Feb of this year.

    Ever since, I have problems getting focused, remembering the simplest of things and get a little edgy at times.

    I had some extremely wild dreams while I was in that coma and hallucinated for a week after I came out of it.

    Was difficult to differentiate between reality and everything else for a while. ( still? )

    I hope this works for you Mark.

    It would be a shame to let a sleep disorder diminish your obvious brain power.

    Good Luck!

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  8. #8
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    Good to hear you are narrowing down the cause. I hope the CPAP gives you relief.
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  9. #9
    SEO: A Specialty - Web Design: Slow or outsourced andbeyond's Avatar
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    I have heard good things about the CPAP machine as well. One of your links mentions losing weight. I think that is probably something to consider as well.

    It is amazing what less weight can do. Your sinuses and palate will thin down and you will be able to breath better.

    Good Luck.

  10. #10
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    Update: In the past 30 days, I've done two "CPAP titration" tests (using a special CPAP breathing machine at home). The first 7-night test produced data which the "sleep lab staff" initially thought were adequate, but when I asked to see the results and then asked some questions, they acknowledged that the data was actually invalid, and I did another 5-day test (using a different face mask, which seemed to work much better). I've also had an MRI, met with a pulmonary medicine specialist (in whom I have no confidence), a very helpful neurologist who referred me for more neurological testing (which may not happen for many months), and an ENT surgeon who effectively scared me away from surgical options for now.

    Despite my low confidence level in the specific "titration setting" which Kaiser's non-medical "sleep lab" staff recommended based on the second test (whose results I still haven't seen), I've asked them to order me the CPAP machine, and I'll hopefully finally start using it next week.

    Anxiously waiting....

  11. #11
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    A very brief follow-up: After using the CPAP machine for several weeks and finally obtaining a copy of the original test results, I recognized that the test results were not mine.

    I had to fight my primary-care doctor to get an actual referral to actually meet with the doctor who'd evaluated the original test, and I was alarmed enough by his defensiveness to insist on seeing a different specialist, who defended his colleague and dismissed the notion that the results might not be mine. However, he reluctantly agreed to let me repeat the test. The results were completely different, and the doctor said that I had "borderline mild sleep apnea" which was his way of saying, "if I saw these test results in a new patient, I'd say there was no sleep apnea, but I'm not going to offend my colleague by acknowledging that he was wrong." He also said that although he didn't see any reason to use a CPAP machine, I should "continue to use the CPAP if I felt it was helpful."

    There is no reason to believe that I have sleep apnea, nor that a sleep disorder was responsible for my memory and cognitive functioning problems. The "sleep lab" department was responsible for a substantial increase in my stress level, and for blocking other doctors from moving forward with more helpful diagnoses for nearly six months.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 20th, 2010 at 06:18 PM.

  12. #12
    Mama in Charge Anne's Avatar
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    gotta love managed care networks ;(

  13. #13
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch View Post
    Interesting; I also suffer from GERD (acid reflux), which was undiagnosed for about 20 years, until a doctor identified that issue about 10 years ago. Adding GERD medication was an incredible change in my life.
    Acid reflux can be a symptom of sleep apnea as well as snoring, poor sleep, etc.

    I was diagnosed a year ago after suffering from similar symptoms. In my sleep study, I didn't even hit REM sleep and my oxygen levels were frighteningly low.

    There were days that I thought I would pass out and normal projects were put on hold.

    I noticed immediate results after starting to wear the CPAP and today I'm a different person.

    My advice to you is stay committed to wearing the device. Sometimes it might feel uncomfortable but continue to use it. Contact your tech person if you experience and discomfort.

    Mark, your life will change. BTW, I don't suffer from acid reflux anymore

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by Mark Welch

    There is no reason to believe that I have sleep apnea, nor that a sleep disorder was responsible for my memory and cognitive functioning problems. The "sleep lab" department was responsible for a substantial increase in my stress level, and for blocking other doctors from moving forward with more helpful diagnoses for nearly six months.
    __________________

    Sorry for the emotional distress you suffered because of mismanagement of your testing and results. The physician should have been honest and apologized for this. There could be other reasons you are suffering from cognition deficits. Are you on medication? Some medications could have cognition side effects. Hope all appropriate lab studies were done to rule out any metabolic causes. Since it was last month when you posted I hope you're doing better.

    Trish

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