Erik’s Sleep Apnea Journey
My unsuccessful sleep apnea treatment from traditional big-box healthcare left me feeling frustrated and dismissed, but ADVENT is giving me hope for the life I want to live.
My name is Erik and I have sleep apnea.
About six years ago things came to a head. My partner was growing more and more frustrated with my loud snoring. It was keeping her up at night, she was wearing earplugs to bed, and she got really concerned when I stopped breathing for what seemed like a full minute, then gasped and choked. I even woke up a couple times gasping for air and it really freaked me out—it's like waking up underwater!
On top of that I was just tired all of the time. At first I thought it might just be my age and having kid wearing me down, but I was barely surviving the workday with unhealthy amounts of coffee and energy drinks. It was affecting my mood. It's terrible for my body.
I brought it up to my doctor and right away he said yeah, that's sleep apnea. He referred me to a sleep center and I made an appointment for a sleep study. They hooked me up a bunch of tubes and wires they told me to go to sleep like normal... you know, all hooked up into The Matrix, way earlier than my usual bedtime. It was pretty miserable.
The results from that one were inconclusive, so I had to go back for another one. The nurse running the study said the other nurse running the previous study did it wrong, which did not inspire a whole lot of confidence. So the results came back and they said I had severe sleep apnea. They gave me a BiPAP which is a CPAP that has two different pressure settings, one for the inhale and one for the exhale. It's pretty intense.
I followed all the directions, did the research and managed to fall asleep with it on that first night. I woke up the next morning with it off and I had no memory of ripping it off. I tried again and again. I'd wake up after about two hours with my face aching and nose burning and my mouth was dry. I was even using the built-in humidifier and it wasn't helping.
I went back to the sleep clinic where they gave me different masks to use and recommended an over-the-counter saliva substitute, but I kept having the same problems. I tried every mask style out there. I tried every setting on the machine. I even shaved my beard which, as you can imagine, was its own special brand of terrifying.
When it was time for me to take the information into the sleep center to see how I was doing with the machine, it showed I didn't have a single night where I wore it long enough for insurance compliance. Eventually, insurance determined that I wasn't using it enough for them to keep paying for supplies, so they pretty much cut me off. I even paid full price on Amazon for a couple other mask styles trying to find something that would work.
I felt totally dejected. I felt like I was failing and it was my fault—like I wasn't trying hard enough. My doctor referred me to an ENT that sent me right back to the sleep study place. She said she put in an order so insurance would start covering supplies again, but the sleep study placed said it wouldn't work like that. They offered to look into it and get back to me, but I never heard back from them, which is just as well—I was done with that place.
I was starting to lose hope. I mean, I kept hearing about people dying with sleep apnea as a contributing factor. People I admire, like
Reggie White and Carrie Fisher. I knew losing weight might be one way to fix myself potentially but it's really, really hard to work out and eat right when you're just exhausted all of the time.
So, a little less than a year ago I decided to start looking for a new job. I came across ADVENT and did some research on the company. Right away I could tell that they were different. There was this message of "We know what you're going through, and we can help you get better" that really appealed to me. I read and watched everything on the website and their YouTube channel, and the ideas that (1) there might be an airway issue that was preventing the CPAP from working and (2) then there are other non CPAP treatment options out there, were revelations.
So I got the job and started working for ADVENT, but I definitely had an ulterior motive: maybe I can actually get this taken care of! So now I'm about to start my ADVENT patient journey, and I get to document the whole thing for you. I get to show you exactly what it's like. Obviously, being an ADVENT employee will color my experience to an extent, but the goal is to be as real and honest as possible... so they'd better do a good job and fix me, right?
Pretty soon I'll be having my virtual consultation and visit and I get to take you all along with me. Stay tuned...