I went to the doctor’s office today. It was a follow-up appointment to the sleep study that I did 1.5 months ago. The test results came in and they found that I have severe sleep apnea. Those of you who do not know what sleep apnea is, then click here.
The doctor indicated that my AHI (Apnea Hypopnea Index) was at 29.3. At first, I was like, “So… what does that mean?” Then with a sober look on his face, he said, “If the AHI is greater than 20 then it is considered not just sleep apnea, but SEVERE sleep apnea!” He also mentioned that my SaO2 (measurement for how much oxygen I am getting) was at 85%. Once again, I asked, “Ok… so what does that mean?” He said, “A normal SaO2 is greater than 96% and in normal circumstances when a person is at 85% it will require a Code Blue in the hospitals.” I asked, “You mean Code Blue… like when they try to resuscitate a person?!” With a look of incredulity the doctor said, “Yes! Bottom line is that all the doctors on the floor would come into your room to try to get you to breath!” My ingenious response was – “Hmm… that is pretty bad.”
The doctor began to lay out what might happen if I do not get this corrected. Words and phases like, “high blood pressure,” “stroke,” “a weakened heart,” and “failure of other organs” spewed out of his mouth. Then it dawned upon me that my problem is more than just snoring at night.
As I was driving back home, I thought about how we are such creatures of habit. I realized that for a portion of my life (remembering back to my college days) some of the symptoms of sleep apnea were clear, but I was ignorant. I was used to getting only 4 hours of sleep and feeling so tired that I thought it was just my lack of sleep. But in reality I was depriving my body of oxygen, so even if I got 7 hours I would have been still be tired. Only by God’s grace I have made it this far.
It was humbling to know that there were many factors that contributed to my sleep apnea and that there was nothing I could really do in my will power. The size of my tonsils and my tongue play a part in constricting my air passage way. Hmm… I guess the writer of the book of James was correct – “But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).
Now, we have to talk about options for treatment. Hopefully, this can get cleared up (pun intended) soon. Another constant reminder: Life is really about trusting and depending on God for everything… even our next breath.