The Hidden Illness of Sleep Apnea—What You May Not Know

Updated on June 1, 2017
vocalcoach profile image

I lived with exhaustion for a long time before finally being diagnosed with sleep apnea. This is my story.


Sleep Apnea: The Hidden Illness

I don’t exactly remember when the symptoms began—it seems like an eternity ago. In reality, however, it was only about a year ago. That can be a very long time to live with exhaustion. I complained to my doctor for six months. He finally listened to me, or maybe he just became tired of my complaining; I'm not sure which. After being tested time and again, a diagnosis finally arrived. It had a name. I call it "the hidden illness," but its clinical name is sleep apnea. Doesn’t sound too serious, does it? I hope you'll stay with me here and keep on reading. Sleep apnea almost destroyed me.

Complete Exhaustion

I’m normally a bundle of energy with an upbeat attitude. It isn’t like me to tire quickly or run out of energy, let alone fall asleep during the day. However, this is exactly what happened.

At first it wasn’t all that noticeable. I went through the day happily completing whatever was on the day’s calendar. I always managed to work in a walk. Mother Nature has generously displayed some of her finest work along my walking path. As I inhale the beauty that surrounds me, I savor the feeling of just being alive. And I hear my own voice echo, "thank you."

It was during one of these beautiful walks that I began to notice I couldn’t quite “go the distance.” My body began to tire rapidly, forcing me to turn back before I finished my walk. Each step required all the endurance I could muster.

The minute I returned home, I kicked off my walking shoes, collapsed on the sofa, and fell fast asleep. I slept for 3 hours. I was out like a light.

Sleeping Day and Night

This happened every day for weeks. I tried every vitamin plus a long list of "suggestions" given to me by well-meaning people.

Then I came down with what I thought was the flu. I was so exhausted I could barely put one foot in front of the other, and I slept all day and all night. I supported myself on trips to the bathroom by gripping the wall with my hands.

At the same time, I began to wonder why I had no body aches, upset stomach, or respiratory problems. Besides, the flu only lasts a few days or at the worst case a few weeks. My symptoms were now lasting months.

I slept day and night, through one day and then another. I drank water constantly to avoid dehydration. I pushed myself to get out of bed. I have a strong mind and was sure I could visualize myself with the energy I needed to return to my bouncy self.

Sleep Apnea Can Cause Exhaustion

One of the symptoms of Sleep Apnea is extreme exhaustion.
One of the symptoms of Sleep Apnea is extreme exhaustion. | Source

Depression Is a Symptom of Sleep Apnea

As days turned into weeks with no improvement I decided to see my PCP (primary care physician.) Unable to drive, I had to depend on someone to take me, wait for me, and drive me home.

I’m the type of person who is very independent, and I hate asking for help. Having to rely on others to get to appointments and do my shopping for me only added to my anxiety. I found myself crying everyday, which is not like me at all. I don't know how I would have managed without the help of my son Randy. He was there for me day and night.

My doctor ran a series of blood tests that ruled out any physical problem. He told me he had no idea what was wrong with me. He did, however, believe me when I told him my symptoms were beginning to make me depressed. He had cared for me long enough to know that if I had a complaint, something was indeed wrong.

At the computer and exhausted
At the computer and exhausted | Source

What's Wrong With Me?

To shorten my story, I will fast forward 6 months. Still suffering with the same symptoms, I was sent to an array of specialists who ran tests and found nothing.

I began to think I was crazy, depressed, or had some disease unknown to man. I was accused of being lazy, irritable, and depressed, and it was suggested that perhaps my symptoms were all a figment of my imagination. Even my closest friends began to doubt my sanity.

Well, of course I was depressed. I had tried everything to heal myself from prayer to an all-organic, super-food diet. (All I really wanted was a big bowl of ice cream and to be left alone.)

I didn’t want to talk to anyone or see anyone. I didn’t much care how I looked or what I said. Okay, I was now officially depressed

What puzzled me the most was that from time to time I would have periods of energy. This energy didn’t last long, and it was always followed by a very long nap. I began to think it must be my brain. Yes, that’s it. I have a brain tumor. I quickly called the doctor.

Finally, a Diagnosis

You may be asking yourself why the doctors didn’t consider sleep apnea in the first place. In their defense, I was also being treated with massive doses of vitamin D, taking Forteo injections daily for osteoporosis, starting on thyroid meds, and also addressing a few other minor problems.

Each doctor would begin by suggesting, “maybe it's this med or that med,” and I was slowly taken off each prescription, one at a time, for 6-8 weeks per medication.

One by one we tested each drug, but I still had the same symptoms.

By now I could barely function. Just as I had begun to give up all hope, my rheumatologist mentioned that I might have something called “sleep apnea.” I was immediately sent to a sleep specialist. He asked me to open my mouth, and he examined my throat. It seems that the soft palate was “falling,” causing me to stop breathing during sleep, and he diagnosed me with sleep apnea.

CPAP Mask - Pillows Style

CPAP masks are available in a variety of styles.  This type is called the "pillows." The 2 oval-shaped pillows fit into the nostrils.
CPAP masks are available in a variety of styles. This type is called the "pillows." The 2 oval-shaped pillows fit into the nostrils. | Source

Do you fall asleep during the day after a "Good Night's Sleep?"

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I Stopped Breathing Over 30 Times

I was sent to a sleep center, wired up, put to bed, and monitored throughout the night. The results of the study indicated severe sleep apnea.

The studies showed that I stopped breathing over 30 times during the first 2 hours of sleep. The period between breaths could last for 20 seconds or more.

I failed to get into “REM” sleep at all, which is when the body rejuvenates, heals, and builds the immune system. My doctor pointed out that this is dangerous and can actually bring on a heart attack or a stroke.

I was elated to hear the news. Sound crazy? Think about it. I now had a diagnosis, which meant I could finally get treatment and regain my energy. I could have my life back!

My doctor completely understood my reaction and said I should make it very clear to my friends and family that my depression was a result of the disorder, and not the other way around.

Oh, bless him!

CPAP Mask for Sleep Apnea

My CPAP mask (the "pillows" style). Oxygen flows through the hose and into the mask.
My CPAP mask (the "pillows" style). Oxygen flows through the hose and into the mask. | Source

My Current Favorite CPAP Mask

The latest style in CPAP masks is called Dreamwear. I just started using this, and I find it to be more comfortable and quieter than other styles.
The latest style in CPAP masks is called Dreamwear. I just started using this, and I find it to be more comfortable and quieter than other styles. | Source

In Conclusion

I have completed my first week of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy, and I am happy to report that my energy is returning. I am no longer depressed. My future looks bright, and I couldn't be more excited and positive. My energy increases with every new day.

Today, three years later, I've been upgraded with a new CPAP mask called "Dreamwear" (see photo). It's more comfortable, and I'm getting a better night's sleep. I mention this because it's important to continue visiting the doctor at least once a year. Research is being done regularly to come up with better alternatives for the CPAP mask. It's also imperative that a sleep study be done at least every two years.

So what have you learned from my story? How can you become educated and learn about the hidden illness of sleep apnea? Start by learning all you can about this disorder. Learn what the symptoms are.

See a doctor if you suspect you might have sleep apnea.

  • Trust yourself. You know your own body.
  • Don’t give your power away.
  • Take responsibility for finding a diagnosis.
  • Don’t listen to other people's opinions.
  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Honor your body.

Sweet Dreams

Note: Everyone is different and experiences different symptoms. For some, the symptoms are barely noticeable, and for others they are more pronounced. My story is an honest account of how sleep apnea affected me. It is not meant to bring anyone anxiety. Always visit your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms.

How much do you know about Sleep Apnea?

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    • profile image

      Kelly 7 months ago

      I stopped breathing over 120 times an hour. I was diagnosed with Centralized Sleep Apnea. ;(

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Yes Audrey it is scary yo think not just your breathing, but your heart can stop. My wife's nose piece also gets dislodged sometimes when she turns over and air escapes. Her machine also has a heater and humidifier, so she has the works. It helps her sleep a lot but she still gets very tired.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Hi Jodah - Do you know that sleep apnea can cause the heart to stop? I've had this confirmed by several specialists. Very scary. My CPAP keeps me awake. Each time I want to turn over when I'm in bed, air escapes and wakes me up. One night last week, my daughter could hear the noise from the air escaping, came into my room and woke me up. She adjusted my 'headgear' and nose piece (I have the pillows) so that both she and I could sleep. I hope your wife is doing better. I sympathize with her. My insurance paid for my CPAP and I am grateful for that. Thanks, Jodah.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hello Audrey,

      Sorry it's taken me so long to find this hub. My wife had been tired and lethargic for a couple of years before being diagnosed as having sleep apnia and then fibromyalgia. She now has a CPAP machine and it makes a big difference, though she still gets tired during the day. She had been having frequent bad dreams before hand a result of her breathing stopping every few seconds during sleep. The bad dreams have mostly stopped. There seems to more and more people being diagnosed with this. the trouble is the machines are so expensive in Australia. We were paying $97 per month to hire one until we eventually were able to purchase one of our own. thank you for sharing your own experiences and informing others. great hub, voted up.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Dear Cat - After hearing your story I'm very glad I went ahead and wrote about this. It's nothing to fool around with. Look into the "pillows" version of the CPAP which allows freedom for the nose and face. This is the type I use. Be sure to let me know of his decision. Blessings to you ~ Audrey

      pstraubie48 - Thank you for sharing this information about your grandson. I haven't heard of the bipap machine. Is it for children? I 'm concerned about it going off and you're having to shake him.

      Blessings to you dear friend and to your grandson. Thank you for my angels!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      My grandson has sleep apnea and has for many years. He sleeps with a bipap machine which has helped us a lot. It goes off often and we shake him a bit to get the breathing back on target.

      It is just something we have grown accustomed to doing. He has had many sleep studies over the years as well.

      Angels are on the way to you ps

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 4 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Audrey,

      My husband suffers, and I worry when he stops breathing and coughs. He hated the claustrophobic CPAP and sent it back . I can't say enough good things about this hub and have sent him a link to it with the hope that he will take another look at the risks and newer solutions. I will let you know what he thinks.

      Many thanks for giving us new hope!

      Cat :)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I'm so glad you read this hub about sleep apnea. I certainly learned not to put all my trust into Doctors and to honor my own feelings. I knew something was seriously wrong all along. We know our own bodies better than anyone else, still for some reason we tend to give our power away.

      I sure hope your wife is doing well now. There's nothing more frustrating than having terrible symptoms, especially when pain is involved, and not being able to find an answer.

      I wrote the hub on sleep apnea for one purpose - to enlighten and help someone else. If only one person is spared the terrible time I went through, then I have achieved my purpose and can even thank God for those long months of suffering. Thank you so much for being here, voting up and for sharing. God Bless!

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 4 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Wow what an experience. I'm very thankful that you actually found relief and a doctor who knew what the heck he was doing. My wife has had some serious medical issues overseas and domestically that several doctors weren't sure how to treat properly. They just had theories that were all proving to be incorrect. It's caused her a tremendous amount of pain but The Lord got us through it.

      I completely understand about the independence thing, I love doing things on my own and I've had to learn in the past few years to be able to trust and rely on people for things I would normally do myself at times! I am grateful your story is here to educate others who might be going through the same thing! Voting this up and sharing big time. Wonderfully written.

    • poshcoffeeco profile image

      Steve Mitchell 4 years ago from Cambridgeshire

      Thanks Audrey I will keep you informed.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Hello poshcoffeeco - It sounds to me like you have the symptoms of sleep apnea and you really need to be looked at and soon. You certainly work long hours that's true, but still it's better to be safe. If you stop breathing during sleep it can be very dangerous. Please make an appointment as soon as you are able. Thanks for the vote and share and please get back to me about the results. Thanks for recognizing my 400,000 views!

    • poshcoffeeco profile image

      Steve Mitchell 4 years ago from Cambridgeshire

      Audrey, you're a trooper. I think I may have this. I get both acid reflux and my Uvula regularly swells and more than doubles in size. After a few days it returns to normal but I still think it is too large and floppy which maybe my problem I too am just so worn out everyday and my wife is constantly complaining about my snoring. They even hear me downstairs when I go to bed early. Granted I work long hours and get up most workdays between 4am and 5am, work 13 hours and return home knackered even though I have had almost an hour of sleep at lunchtime. Think I had better get checked out ?

      Voting up and sharing this.

      Glad you are recovering.

      400k - here's to the next 400. Well done.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      stephanieb27 - I can't believe what a different person I am since being treated for sleep apnea. Like your father-in-law, I suffered for years before doctors found the diagnoses. It's pretty amazing. Thanks for sharing this with me!

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 4 years ago from United States

      My father-in-law suffered from sleep apnea for years. Once diagnosed and taken care of, he became a totally different (much better) person! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Pamela - Happy New Year! I'm so glad to receive your comments. It's reassuring to hear from someone who understands sleep apnea. It seems to be taking forever to regain consistent energy. I have my good days and then I have times when I sleep non-stop for 3-5 days. I'm learning patience:)

      Thanks dear friend for your support. Take good care.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      I am sorry to hear you have struggled with this problem. I know quite a lot about it from my nursing training and I think I may have written about it a couple of years ago. I am so glad you are feeling better. Getting enough sleep is so important to our overall health. It is too bad that it took so long for you to get a diagnosis, but thank goodness you are feeling better. I wish you the best for 2013.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      KoffeeKlatch Gals - I'm so very sorry to hear that you had heart failure. How frightening. I do hope you are feeling much better now. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is very dangerous. I had no idea that it is life-threatening until my Doctor explained the threat it poses. I'm still not 100% but am better. If you get a chance, I'd like to know what other problems you are dealing with are caused by Sleep Apnea. I have other health issues too and would like knowing if these issues are connected. Thanks so much and appreciate the terrific votes. Hugs.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Wonderful hub. You have explained exactly what I was feeling before I was diagnoised. I was taken to the hospial about a month ago with heart failure. While I was there someone decided I needed a Pulmonary Specialist to see me. Because of this wonderful doctor I now know that I have Opstructive Sleep Apena and Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. I also learned many of the things that I have wrong with me are directly connected to the Sleep Apena. I don't like being ill but I certainly like knowing what wrong and that there is something that can help slow down the progress. Up, useful, interesting, and awesome.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      unknown spy - Glad you read about this condition. Not everyone who suffers from sleep apnea has such severe symptoms. Because my symptoms went undiagnosed for years, it really took its toll on me. I'm still fighting those same symptoms. Take care my friend.

      cam8510 - Since writing this article, I have seen some improvement but not as much as I expected. There are times when I still have the same symptoms and I tend to get a bit discouraged. I thought that after 2 months using CPAP, I would have plenty of energy. That isn't happening.

      I'm grateful to you for mentioning this second type of apnea. I hadn't heard about it and others need to know that it exists.

      Thank you so much. It feels good to be able to share this with someone like yourself.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 5 years ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      vocalcoach, Thank you for writing this excellent article. I hope many people are able to get the help they need as a result. I was diagnosed with centralized sleep apnea. It is different than what you have described. CSA occurs when the body simply stops making the effort to breathe. During my sleep study I entered REM 2% of sleep time. The rest of the time I bounced between wakefulness and stage 1. As a result of this conditiion, I lost my job of 28 years. Falling asleep at work is not popular. It just took too long to find the problem. You have done a great job explaining obstructive sleep apnea, and I just wanted to bring up this second kind of apnea so readers could watch for that condition as well.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      never heard of this..thanks for the info vocalcoach. it seems horrible.. i only have insomnia from time to time but not this one..

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Dear Nicole ~ I can't thank you enough for this great information about the Breathe-Right strips. I'm going to pass the word along and add this product to the amazon capsule as well.

      I'm so glad to hear that these strips helped both you and your SO to sleep better and decrease the snoring. Just amazing!

      Thank you for your well wishes and caring heart. Each day, I feel better with increased energy. I'm so thankful for the CPAP therapy and that it's working for me. Hallelujah!

      Sending you a big hubhug :)

    • Nicole Winter profile image

      Nicole A. Winter 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      vocalcoach: I'm so sorry to hear you've been going through all this, thank goodness that they eventually caught on to what was happening to you! Thank-you for sharing your personal story dealing with sleep apnea, I'm so happy to hear that you're regaining your strength, positivity and energy!

      I've been having some problems at night since I started smoking again, (I know, my bad,) when I got a bad viral cold thing I picked up some Breathe-Right strips. I can't tell you what an incredible difference it's made! My SO snores pretty badly, too, so I asked him to use them as well & now we're both getting so much more sleep, better quality sleep, to boot! It's so much easier for me to fall asleep when he uses the strips, since he doesn't snore anywhere near as loudly anymore.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      CrisSp ~ Sweet friend, how nice it is to hear from you. I'm glad you read this hub. It sounds like you may be a candidate for this disorder. I hope not and because it can cause very serious problems you may want to get yourself tested.

      If you have insurance, you will be fully covered.

      Thank you for your very caring comments and I am slowly getting my energy back. I'm very grateful. And...I'm grateful for you too. Love and a hug ~

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Audrey dear, I hope you are feeling a lot better now. I am nocturnal for as long as I can remember and was suspecting a hint of this disorder but often times ignoring it. I used to rely on sleeping pills and some sleep inducing oil to help me get through the night. I try to avoid the pills now and instead turning into a more natural remedy. To be in the situation is tough! I could just imagine.

      This is a very useful and informative hub, much more effective because we know the credibility of the writer. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm glad you have your energy back! Take care.

      Love from the sky~

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Dear Gail ~ I'm glad that your husband's apnea was caught during his stay in the hospital. My doctor made it very clear that sleep apnea is hard on the heart and can also cause a stroke.

      Each week I feel a little better and my energy is slowly returning. I am so grateful for the CPAP even though it takes some getting used to.

      Ijust loved the hub I read by you and bookmarked it as well as shared with many others. It's my favorite hub!

      Thanks so much for voting up and across and especially for the Hub Bouquet, Hugs and Love. Audrey

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Oh my, Audrey, looks like it's been a really rough year, but I'm glad that since your diagnosis and treatment you've been feeling better.

      This article is very powerful because you've used your personal experience to show how this condition can insidiously creep into so many aspects of a person's life and can be tricky to diagnose, yet once recognized, is very treatable.

      My husband was diagnosed with sleep apnea when he was in the hospital for cardiac surgery and the monitors showed he was having periods of apnea while sleeping in the hospital. He was sent to a sleep clinic on discharge, officially diagnosed and has been using a CPAP since then. His symptoms weren't as dramatic as yours but it was good he was diagnosed because the condition was causing strain on his heart.

      Thanks for sharing your story so that others may be helped by it.

      Voted up across the board except for funny and shared.

      Sending a Hub Bouquet of Hugs & Love,


    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Dear Eddy - Thank you so much for realizing how challenging it is to share a personal hub like this one. I want to prevent others from going through what I did for so long a time and hope by sharing this experience I will.

      I am enjoying each new hub you create and always experience an inspiring lift. It's a joy to be your hub friend. Thank you!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      What a brave hub Audrey and now through your heartfelt hub you will make things far easier for others. I have to vote up;you are an amazing person my friend and here's to so many more hubs for us both to share on here.

      Enjoy your weekend.


    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Dear Rolly - I'm very glad to hear that the people you know who suffer from SA return to normal again after being put on CPAP. Thank you for your compassion on my behalf. You are a dear and caring person and we are all blessed to have you here on hubpages. Hugs!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Faith - I, too have wondered the very same thing regarding people dying in their sleep. It makes perfect sense that it would be attributed to sleep apnea. The CPAP that I use is referred to as "the pillows" which is much more comfortable than the earlier styles, and I hope your husband has found a style that works for him. Thank you my friend for being here and for the generous votes and sharing!

      rosemary50 - Have you had sleep apnea for 26 years? Are you still on CPAP? Thank you for reassuring me that I did the right thing by writing this hub. I so want it to be informative and to bring an awareness to others. Take care rosemary!

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Vocalcoach... this hub is so filled with information and thinking of you suffering the way you have is disturbing. I do love you advice to listen to your body and not allow anything to be overlooked. I know several people with SA and once they have a device they turn a full 180 and again live a good life.

      So blessed to hear you have found all you have lost again...

      Many hugs from Canada

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Sueswan - I hope your good friend is doing well. And you are so right about so many others who either have this condition and are being treated, or have it and don't know it. Thank you so much for sharing this hub that others may learn from it and avoid a misdiagnoses. Appreciate you!

      vox vocis - It sounds like Europe is way ahead of US when it comes to sleep apnea - or it could just be that it was difficult to diagnose my symptoms. Either way, we need to get the word out. Too many people are walking around with sleep apnea and don't know it. I sure hope your husband finds a solution for his sleep apnea.

      Thank you!

      R Talloni - Thank you my friend for being here and supporting me with this terrible condition. I appreciate your caring way.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      mcbirdbks - Thank you, my friend for reading my hub and taking the time to comment. I'm thankful that the worst is over and the CPAP therapy is working. My son has been such a support. I am very blessed. Take care.

      Midget38 - I'm glad to see you here. It sounds as though you know exactly what the symptoms of sleep apnea are all about. I appreciate your sharing this hub. Thank you!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      kimho39 - Thank you so much for your very nice comments. I'm glad you liked the photos and thanks for the link. You are so sweet!

      Rajan - Sleep Apnea can be an insidious condition. This is one reason my doctors had such a difficult time coming up with the correct diagnoses. I'm so grateful they finally did. I am feeling so much better with the use of CPAP therapy. Thank you for your support and well wishes.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Vinaya - I'm happy to see you here. Many people have this condition and are not aware of it. This is one reason I wanted to write about the symptoms. Thank you for your support.

      Just Rodney - I hope your wife does very well on the CPAP therapy. I will be interested in reading your hub about this. Thank you.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      This is an excellent hub to ensure readers to be aware of both the symtoms and the consequences of Sleep Apnea.

      I was diagnosed 26 years ago

      I am pleased that you are feeling better and reacovering your energy. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Green Lotus - Hello my friend. Actually the type of CPAP I selected is more comfortable as very small "pillows" release air through the nostrils. The regular type is a cumbersome type that fits over the nose. Having said that, even though I opted for "the pillows" it takes some getting used to. However, I haven't had any problems sleeping on my side. I really don't wake up during the night. Thank you for your kid comments GL and take care!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Excellent and informative hub. I know about this all too well, as my husband has sleep apnea. You have written an outstanding hub concerning this particular health issue, that a lot of people may not know of the dangers or know of it at all. My husband had a bit of trouble finding the correct mask to fit properly, and finally the one he has now does much better than all the others in the past. Growing up, I always remember people saying, "He or she just died in his or her sleep," which makes me wonder now that it could have most likely been caused by sleep apnea. Voted Way up.

      God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      KoffeeKlatchGals - I hope that by now you have made an appointment with your PCP to have a sleep study done. My symptoms started just like yours and progressed to total disability. You MUST not put this off. Sleep apnea can be very dangerous. I had no idea. I have relatives who have this condition and I thought it was just somethig simple.

      I'm pleased you like my hub. Putting my photo out there with the sleep mask on wasn't an easy thing for me to do, but I felt that in doing this it would help to clarify that this condition is nothing to fool around with.

      I appreciate your kind comments and thank you for the generous ratings. Now...GO see your doctor!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Melovy - Hi, and thanks for being here and leaving your comments. I've been on the mask for weeks now and starting to feel so much better. At long last:) I, too had no idea that sleep apnea could cause so many problems. It's nothing to fool around with.

      Bob - I thank you so very much for sharing your own experience with sleep apnea. Wow! You had it even worse than I. Pretty scary looking back, huh? I hope you have learned your lesson and will listen to your wife from now on:)

      I am encouraged to know that losing extra weight helped you beat this condition as well as the diabetes. You have inspired me and I have now lost 9 # with 16 more to go.

      I'd love to get off this mask someday. Thanks again.

      DS Duby - Thanks so much for the great ratings you've given me and for taking time to read and comment on my hub. Appreciate it!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      bdegiulio - Thanks so much for endorsing this hub on sleep apnea. You've had this for 15 yrs? Are your symptoms gone?Do you still use the CPAP every nite? I will read your hub and add your link with this hub. Take care.

      Dear Daisy - You are welcome my friend. And you're quite right about it not being easy to write this. But I had to do it. I felt a responsibility to alert others and perhaps help someone else who has the same symptoms. Thanks so much for your support!

      Realhousewife - Oh, brought tears of relief to my eyes for telling me I'm still beautiful! I had to share the photo of me for others to understand the full impact of this condition. My son said "'re not going to show this picture of yourself on hubpages are you?

      Kelly, it's wonderful to know that you fully understand all about this problem and wearing the CPAP. I see your sweet, tender, loving face every night as I adjust this to my face.

      I wish I didn't have to wear it, but at the same time, I'm so thankful for this device.

      Bless your sweet heart, dear Kelly!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      marcourjor - Thank you Maria for your beautiful comments. You've given me a reason for feeling good about sharing my difficult time.

      GinaBina4- How very kind of you to thank me for writing about my experience with sleep apnea. So sweet of you to wish me well!

      Stephanie - I'm so pleased to hear that you have learned how devastating this condition can be for some people. Like you, I used to think it was no big deal. I sure know better now. Thank you for sharing this on twitter and I appreciate you sending me get well wishes. Take care.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      fpherj48 - Thanks so much for sharing your own story about possible sleep apnea. PLEASE GO SEE YOUR DOCTOR AND GET THE TEST DONE. It's dangerous to let your symptoms linger. And please, my friend, do let me know just as soon as you get the results from your test.

      I'll be thinking about you and sending warm wishes your way.

      teaches12345 - Your comments are so kind and mean so much to me. I really do hope that this hub will reach those who need it and do some good. Thank you my friend.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Mary615 - Yes, you definitely are lucky to sleep like a rock and have plenty of energy. What a great blessing that is. Thanks so much for your good wishes and I'm doing much better now that I sleep with the Tpap. I'll be over to see you soon and treat myself to a hub or two. Meanwhile, sweet dreams Mary:)

      KDuBarry03 - You are so sweet to give me your good wishes and I do believe they are working. I'm now getting more energy and beginning to sleep better. Thanks so much!

      Millionaire Tips - Thanks so much for reading my hub on sleep apnea. It just about "did me in." I appreciate your compassion for what I've gone through and want you to know that I'm beginning to feel much better. It looks like the CPAP is working. We really don't realize the importance that good health plays in our everyday duties until we lose it. Thanks for your kind vote up.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      tillsontitan - Putting these photos of me out there for the entire universe to see will most likely bury all hope of ever finding me a honey:) But I want people to realize how terrible this condition can make you feel. Hugs

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      drbj - You have made me feel good about writing this hub. I sincerely want others to be more aware of this dibilitating condition than I was. I had no idea my life would come to a hault as I know it. I'm beginning to feel some energy returning to my body now after 4 weeks on the CPAP therapy. I'm so thankful. You're the best, my friend.

      Jools99 - I was so surprised to learn that sleep apnea can be so devesating. I guess it can affect different people in different ways. I had it for years before it was diagnosed which really did a number on my body. Happy to report that I'm doing better with the use of the CPAP therapy and some much needed sleep. Thanks my friend!

      tillsontitan - You really need to be checked out for sleep apnea. I, too thought I was getting 8-9 hours of sleep. But I wasn't. You have nothing to lose by a night at the sleep center and so much to gain in the event that you do have it. Thank you for the great votes and the share. And please, take care.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      It can be so difficult to get to the solution of medical problems! So glad you had a doc who listened and worked with you, and that you are responding well to treatment.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Amy, I'm concerned about your sleep symptoms.

      I understand about not having health insurance, but I wonder if you should see a doctor somehow?

      I, too have some concerns about the forteo. When I see my rhumetologist I'm going to talk to her about it.

      I'm so sorry that you have had such a bad time and have gone through so much. Besides losing that much weight, it has to be a frightening experience. And I'm also sorry about your Dad.

      We just never know, do we?

      Please take care Amy and thanks so much for sharing your comments.

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 5 years ago

      There are many different forms of sleep apnea. More and more people are suffering from it every day so it's a wide known disease here in Europe. My husband has it. You're lucky because you can sleep with "the mask." My husband is returning his because it's not working for him :(

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Audrey,

      I am glad that you were finally diagnosed properly with sleep apnea. A good friend of mine also has sleep apnea. I think it is more common than we realize.

      Thank you for caring. I am sharing this hub because I know how helpful or life saving it will be to those who may be suffering but do not realize they have sleep apnea.

      Take care :)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      An excellent and helpful article, Audrey. Snoring and constant exhaustion is just the window to a slightly bigger problem that needs addressing. Glad you managed the condition and are feeling better! Am sharing!!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Though I'd heard about sleep apnea, I never knew the effects would be so pronounced. I'm glad you are on the road to recovery, Audrey.

      Wish you are back to your usual level of health soon.

      Thanks for sharing your experience and passing it on.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 5 years ago

      vocalcoach! What a well written hub. I especially love the pics! Your symptoms were definitely very pronounced. What a terrifying and humbling experience. Thanks for the link too. I'm adding a link as well. May your nights be blessed with the sweetest dreams:)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      carol7777 - I too had heard of sleep apnea and had no idea it could be disabling when it isn't diagnosed soon enough. It's nothing to dismiss and I hope y hub here will prevent someone else from going through what I have. Thanks carol !

      Ruchira - Hello. Thank you so much for your heart-warming comments. I have been using the CPAP for a little over 1 week and already feel better. I'm beginning to feel more energetic and am ecstatic about that. I plan to be back to my full energy capacity very soon. Thanks again dear friend!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Sunshine625 - Your husband has sleep apnea. Then you know first hand about this disorder. I had no idea that this could be the cause of depletion of energy and nodding off throughout the day. I'm doing so much better with the use of the CPAP. Thanks Linda!

      Dear Vincent - Hello my friend. Gosh it's so great to see you. I hope your brother's sleep test goes well. Be sure to let me know how he does.

      And if you continue to feel overly tired, I'd advise you to check in with your Dr. Thanks so much for being here and wishing me well,

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Never heard about Sleep Apnea but I know some people who show the symptoms you have mentioned here. Thanks for sharing your personal narrative. This is a great health article.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Bill - This time my patience was really tested. And I have more patience than most (as teachers often do.) I felt myself close to "giving up" several times during this 12 month period.

      I hope and pray that my hub will find it's way to those that need it. Thanks Bill!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 5 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Audrey I am so glad that you have finally been correctly diagnosed and are now getting back to yourself. And again so happy that your son is there to help you. Thanks for the information, this hub could help so many.

    • Just_Rodney profile image

      Rodney Fagan 5 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Thanks for this article, I will be publishing a hub from the other side of the coin as my wife has been diagnosed this.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks for telling your important story. You have saved lives Audrey. I do wonder how uncomfortable the night apparatis is. Doesn't it wake you up when you turn over? Rated up and interesting.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 5 years ago from Florida

      I never knew sleep apnea could cause so much trouble. I'm glad you finally discovered what was wrong and got the proper treatment. I don't always sleep well and lately I've been falling asleep at the computer in the afternoon. Could I have sleep apnea?

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Marvelous article. Loved the pictures. I can't believe how much I learned from you. I have been exhausted for the laast few weeks. It's more than the start of school tiredness. I am so tired I have a hard time keeping myself awake when I am sitting and relaxing. I will definitely be calling my doctor. Thank you. Up, useful, interesting and awesome.

    • DS Duby profile image

      DS Duby 5 years ago from United States, Illinois

      Brilliantly written hub, thank you for sharing your story with us. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 5 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      It can't be said loud enough, Audrey, but you came pretty damned close! Great hub. I had sleep apnea but beat it. Unlike you, though, I had no symptoms other than the snoring and the breathing cessation.

      I slept through the night, woke up refreshed, and as a store owner worked 7 days a week, 10 1/2 hrs a day. I'd occasionally get an early afternoon energy drain, but it would pass. It just goes to show you how insidious the disease can be.

      My wife ( a nurse ) had been after me for years to tell my doctor. I would stop breathing for over a minute...which I couldn't do when I was awake.

      So, I told my PCP and he sent me to the sleep lab for the overnight test. He called me and said I had a severe case of sleep apnea, which I asked him to define.

      He said, "Your oxygen saturation level shouldn't go below 92, if it goes below 90 we get a little concerned; yours went below 50!" At that level of O2 deprivation, things shut down...things like hearts, lungs or brains. So, I went on the CPAP program.

      Six months later I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, decided to get serious about my health, and by six months after that I had lost 53 pounds. That's when my sleep apnea went away and I came off the mask. I also came off the Metformin for my diabetes and now control that with diet and exercise.

      Not everyone can beat sleep apnea, but if a sufferer is overweight, it's essential to lose at least most of the extra weight. Thanks for adding your voice to those sounding the alarm. It's an important hub. Voted up, useful and interesting. Best wishes as you tackle the disease. Regards, Bob P.S. It's awesome to be in the company of so many Level 6-7 and 8s. You draw an elite crowd!

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Gosh, this sounds like you've had a hard time of it. Glad to see you got to the bottom of what was causing your tiredness. I knew about sleep apnea, but I didn't know all the effects. I can't imagine it's easy sleeping with a mask. but it must be better than not sleeping.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      You look beautiful in CPAP:) I would know doll, I've seen thousands ofmpeople with that get up on! Lol

      This is AWESOME and an excellent hub. It is very hard for people to u derstand CPAP and how it works. People just don't realize that they don't have to be tired all the time. If you don't feel rested after sleeping something is wrong!

      The CPAP hose delivers nothing but room temperature air. It acts like a split so it holds the airway OPEN while sleeping.

      You had a respiratory disturbance index of more than 30? WOW that is severe. Your oxygen saturation levels can drop as a result of that!

      I loved, loved loved this hub!!

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 5 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


      Thank you for publishing this very important article. I had heard of sleep apnea, but didn't know much about it until I read your Hub.

      It can't have been easy to share your story with us. I admire you for doing so.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Audrey. I was diagnosed about 15 years ago with sleep apnea. Also wrote a Hub about it if you care to read. This can be a very serious condition, people should heed the warning signs.

      Thanks for helping to spread the word and educate everyone. VU...

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      This is an excellent hub for those of us who don't know very much about sleep apnea. I never realized the serious consequences it could have on one's life and health. I'm so glad that your doctors were finally able to diagnose the problem and that you are getting treatment. Thanks for sharing your story! Voted up and shared on Twitter!

    • GinaBina4 profile image

      Gina 5 years ago from West Tennessee

      Thank you writing about your ordeal with sleep apnea. I am so glad you are feeling better now. Voted up!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA


      This was an honorable service and awareness raising to each reader, whether for ourselves or someone we love.

      I, too, am glad you listened to your body and did not give up until you found the answer.

      You will always be a beautiful person inside and out. Solid sleep and a smile are the best make-up... so happy you are heading in that direction for your self care and good health.

      Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I am so sorry that you had to suffer for so long without any real answers. Glad that you now have them and are doing much better. Thanks for sharing from your experience. I know many will benefit from reading how you handled this and will look forward to some healing. Voted up.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Audrey....I thank you...sincerely. I needed to read this and you did your usual awesome,( hugely )educational job. My Dr. wanted to set me up with a sleep clinic months ago! I brushed her off.

      I owe you so much. You just wised me up and gave me a good shake! I WILL do some further research as you suggest, on the symptoms, especially. I'm afraid I will present with most. I am so glad you are better. Best of health to you.......UP++

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      I am so glad that you were able to find the underlying cause of your depression. How awful it must have been for you to have it undiagnosed for six months. I hope that the treatment continues to help bring you back to your normal energy levels. Voted up for bringing up this important condition.

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 5 years ago

      Well written, Audrey! So sorry to hear about your experiences. I'm so happy to hear that you are returning back to normal. Very powerful and informative article :)

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      I sure learned a lot about sleep Apnea today. What a terrible ordeal to go through before you got a diagnosis. I'm glad you did get a diagnosis, so now you know what to do. I am happy you are feeling better, too.

      I sleep like a rock a full 6 hours and feel energetic all the time. I am lucky.

      I voted this Hub UP, will share and Tweet.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      How wonderful of you to share your experiences AND your photos! You have done a great service to all of us. I have twice been given a prescription for the sleep apnea test, maybe I'd better check it out! Believe it or not I get my 7 to 8 at night, and usually have to take a nap. It seems when the seasons change I fall asleep watching TV as well.

      I am so sorry you went through such hell for so long but glad you are now on the mend. God Bless.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Audrey, excellent article, all the better for it being such a personal experience. You poor thing! I'm glad that your rheumatologist finally got your diagnosed correctly after what sounded like a longish spell of worry for you. I have only ever seen sleep apnea on shows like The Biggest Loser where it has become an effect of obesity so your experience of it is brand new to me. Wearing the mask must take a bit of getting used to I bet you're glad of the proper, restful sleep. Take care Audrey x.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      shiningirisheyes - I'm glad I wrote this hub. I wasn't sure I should. Then when I was roaming around the forums I noticed the topic for the week had to do with medical issues. That opened the door for me.

      I awoke this morning with enough energy to fix my breakfast and get dressed. I am able to spend more time at the computer. How great this is. I am so thankful!

      Bill - It's truly been a long hard road for me. There were times when I felt like giving up completely. But then I would manage to read some encouraging, motivational and compassionate hub such as yours and I knew I had to hang in there. No one on hubpages had any idea how I was feeling for the past year. There were days I couldn't type out one word to leave a comment or even say hi. I took me weeks to write out one new hub. Thank you dear, precious Bill!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      You may have literally saved a life or two, Audrey, with this comprehensive and extremely readable article about sleep apnea. I think the general public is unaware of how serious this disorder can be. So thank you for bringing it to Hub readers' attention. I often use the silly phrase 'zzzzzzzzzz' in a comment but there is nothing funny about sleep apnea.

      Voted Up as high as possible, m'dear.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Fantastic informative article, Audrey. At first my imagination starting running in the direction of Lyme disease or an autoimmune condition impacting your life. I have autoimmune disease so I know about the array of life altering symptoms. I, too, take Vitamin D and gave myself the Forteo injections for a year. With the injections, I became very ill with my autoimmune condition affecting my small bowel. I lost 35 lbs in 3 months and began with apnea symptoms. I was finding the workday nearly impossible to finish, often falling asleep while driving the 1-1/2 commute home everyday. My dad suffered sleep apnea and died from a massive stroke. Genetically, I am predisposed, but I now wonder about the possibility that Forteo could bear some long-term ramifications in this disorder. I am a light sleeper. Every night, just after falling asleep, I wake gasping for air, feeling like I am dying, literally with my lungs empty of air. It is frightening and sometimes occurs 4 times before I am able to remain sleeping. I believe it is sleep apnea. Unfortunately, without health insurance now, a confirmed diagnosis must wait. I realize, after the fact, that I should have MADE the time to be tested while I was still working. The irony of life is now that I have the time, well...such is life.

      Thank you, Audrey, for this important, oft overlooked, life altering, dangerous condition.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      Oh Audrey...hugs to you, my friend!

      I had no clue on how the diagnosis took so long 'cause this illness has such mixed up symptoms.

      I wish you the best, my friend. Hub hugs and sending in positivity always!

      During this time, it makes you thankful of your wonderful and supportive family...Bless them!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      This is amazing to me because I had no idea that one was affected so badly. I have heard about it and know people who sleep with the shield. I am just happy you found out what was the problem and you can go on living feeling productive and well. Voted UP and sharing.

    • profile image

      Vincent Moore 5 years ago

      Wow thank you for sharing this very prominent problem amongst our population. I'm so happy to read that you are recovering from it and found out early enough. My brother is under tests this week for it and he to will be doing an overnighter to be watched. I do get tired during the day but not the way its described here in detail. However I do suffer with sinus and a little overweight so I am watching carefully. If I continue to get more tired I will visit my doctor. All the best my friend and yes indeed do have a peaceful sleep now.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Well done Audrey! So many people go undiagnosed with Sleep Apnea because they aren't familiar with the illness or no one gives them the nudge to get checked. I have my husband the nudge and he's thanked me often during the past ten years since he's been using his machine. Wishing you many more restful nights of peaceful sleep :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      The message is clear, your own body! I'm glad you did, and I'm glad you didn't give up despite the many roadblocks. Hooray! I love hubs like this one. I am relieved that you have finally found the solution. I have a couple friends who suffer from this, and like you, their symptoms were debilitating. Thank God they finally got the diagnosis right. Wonderful and valuable hub!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Dear Bob - Thank you for being here. If my story prevents even one person from going through what I did, I am very happy. This terrible sleep disorder robbed me of almost 2 yrs of my life and put me in dangerous territory. I am happy to report that I am feeling better with more energy each day. Take care my friend and thank you.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I am relieved for knowing you found the source of your energy drain. Over 60 million people are currently suffering from insomnia. Half of those people have no idea they have it because they are "sleeping" through the night, only to wake exhausted, as you did.

      Prolonged sleep disorder can lead to some dangerous situations and I am thankful you finally got to the bottom of the issue.

      Now you can start enjoying life again.


    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Truly excellent article which may save a lot of people much anguish if not worse. All the more effective because it was a first person story.

      So glad you isolated the malaise and are on the road to recovery.

      Top vote


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