ADVENT Founder and President, Dr. Madan Kandula, went on The Morning Blend with Erik-an ADVENT team member turned patient-to share his personal struggle with sleep and CPAP.
*ADVENT no longer does virtual visits
[Tiffany] And welcome back. Well, our next guest was hopeless about sleeping. He felt like he was living in a fog, always tired, and his snoring was so bad that his bed partner was wearing earplugs. He tried a CPAP mask, but that didn't work for him either. So finally, he's on the path to getting a good night's sleep thanks to Dr. Madan Kandula at ADVENT, and he joins us now, along with Erik, who is here to share more of his personal story. Good morning to both of you gentlemen.
[Dr. Kandula] Good morning.
[Erik] Good morning.
[Tiffany] Thanks for joining us today. Erik, I want to start with you, because this story, I think is, so many people are going to relate to. This was the last six years of you and your partner having issues with sleep but talk about when you knew that this snoring was truly a problem.
[Erik] Well, like you said, about six years ago, it was so bad that my partner was wearing earplugs to bed, and then she got really freaked out when I'd stop breathing for long periods of time, and then gasp, and choke. I even woke up a few times struggling to breathe, gasping for air. It was really, really freaky. So, I went to the doctor, and he recognized it as sleep apnea almost right away. Got a CPAP machine which blows air into your airway to keep your throat from collapsing at night, and prevent you from pausing your breathing, and it just, it did not work for me. It was uncomfortable to wear. There was pressure in my nose and my face. I had really extreme dry mouth. I tried every mask type and humidifier and over-the-counter saliva substitute, and I just could not wear it for more than two hours at a time. I'd either rip it off in the night, and wake up, not remember doing it, or I would wake up, take it off, try and put it back on, and fall asleep, and I just would not be able to. Eventually, insurance determined that I wasn't using it enough for them to keep paying for supplies. So, they pretty much cut me off, and yeah, it was a pretty hopeless situation. I was dejected and my partner was frustrated, and we didn't know what to do.
[Tiffany] That's what I think so many people are going to relate to too is that taking it off in the middle of the night, not even remember you're doing it, and the fact then you're not using it enough to have insurance cover it. I mean, that would feel very hopeless. And Dr. Kandula, I'm sure this is something you hear quite often because I've heard this story from friends who've tried to use CPAPs.
[Dr. Kandula] Yeah, it's, unfortunately, it's the most common story, the most common story, and for folks who go in seeking treatment for sleep apnea at a typical sleep center, the odds are against you. The odds of success are about 30%. And so, Erik's story is the everyman and woman's story, mostly, meaning that it's unfortunate that the system is broken, and because the system is broken, it has collateral damage, and unfortunately, Erik's, again, his story is the common story. The reality is if you have sleep apnea, you've got a throat issue 100% of the time. Almost all the time you also have a nose issue, and so if you don't address both of those issues, or at least have an understanding about what's going on, you can't get somebody successfully treated. So, you can't have sort of a Band-Aid approach when the Band-Aid doesn't work.
[Tiffany] Well, that's what I love what you do at ADVENT. This is your specialty. Snoring and sleep apnea is truly something that you are top notch at.
[Dr. Kandula] Yeah, I mean, this is what we do. These are the areas that we work in. These are the areas that we try to bring it for our patients because there's a need. I mean, there's sort of our skill set, and then there's the need that's out there, and again, Erik, there's unfortunately millions of other Eriks in this country and in the world that are really, if you think about his story, it's a story of somebody who is seeking treatment for a medical condition, and the medical system, because it's broken, fails him, and fails him, and in addition, it yanks this sort of potential treatment away from him, and we're still not there yet. I mean, Erik is on his journey here at ADVENT, and we haven't gotten over the goal line yet. But, so from when he's recognized the issue until now, it's not only the frustration that he's feeling, the frustration that others are feeling, but there's a ticking time bomb that's going on. So day after day, night after night, week after week, you know, year after year, it's a real significant issue that has real and significant repercussions. Then back to the insurance company that's yanking away treatment, I get it. I mean, on one hand, I get it that the treatment's not working, On the other hand, it's inconceivable that you'd take something away from somebody that's basically a lifeline. So if you don't treat sleep apnea properly, it's something that really, really can do you in, and the insurance company and Erik and others will pay the price of that down the road, unfortunately.
[Tiffany] Well, I love that you said it's life-saving, 'cause that's the truth when it comes to sleep apnea. Erik, I want to hear again from you, because I feel like ADVENT goes further than usual sleep centers, and I wonder if when you finally found Dr. Kandula if there was anything new that was revealed to you or that you understood better about your situation.
[Erik] Absolutely, one of the things we did was imaging. I got a CT scan and right away we saw that my septum was deviated significantly. Things were very, very tight in my sinuses. I even had chronic sinusitis that I wasn't even aware of. So yeah, we were able to see exactly what was going on in there and get a plan moving forward. I'd love to avoid any kind of surgery, if possible. So, we're going to do a balloon sinuplasty and a turbinate reduction to open things up, and Dr. Kandula thinks we can get things working the way they need to be without actually having to go through surgery.
[Tiffany] And you're doing this during a pandemic. A lot of people are not seeking treatment right now. And so, I think it's good for people to hear the fact that during COVID you're still seeking treatment. How has that been?
[Erik] Oh, it's been super easy and convenient. I did my first visit online. That included an exam. I got my sleep study mailed to my door. I didn't have to leave my house and go to the clinic until I had my CT scan, and what's great is with ADVENT I got to sit down with the doctor on that very same visit and review the results, so it was just one trip. Yeah, it's been as easy as it could possibly be.
[Tiffany] That's got to feel very good to you and to your partner to know that there's more down the line that's going to be helpful. I know you're sharing all this on ADVENT's social media and on your blog as well at ADVENT, right, doctor?
[Dr. Kandula] Yeah, absolutely. I think that's the interesting thing is Erik's sharing his experience, and you know, as he said, he's set, we're kind of halfway through his journey. We've gotten an understanding of what's going on. We know what we're gonna do. Now, it's putting the plan to action, and really the goal is to, for, you know, Erik's gonna capture that, and we'll see where we go. I don't know, I can't guarantee we're gonna go over, get over the goal line, but I can guarantee you we're gonna try our hardest, and we've got multiple plans of action to get us there.
[Tiffany] I think you're gonna help a lot of people by being able to see what's going on and follow along, so thanks so much for joining me, both of you.
[Dr. Kandula] Thank you, thank you.
[Erik] Thank you for having us.
[Tiffany] Absolutely, all right, follow Erik's journey through the blog series or to schedule an appointment at one of their many area locations, all you have to do is go to ADVENTknows.com or give them a call, 414-771-6780. You can do that first appointment virtually (Note: ADVENT no longer does virtual visits) as well.