Well, it's the end of March. I'm a bit surprised by how quickly it's gone by, because it feels like only last week that I was planning out what I was going to do this month. I felt so optimistic about March, and how I was going to tackle it and beat it into submission, and while the reality hasn't quite been as successful as that, I'm still feeling pretty good about it.
I've been trying not to get overly personal on these blogs, but Andrea challenged us this week to write about ways that we've allowed ourselves to be held back by setting ourselves up for failure so we don't have to take ownership of our own insecurities. Most of us have some of these sneaky little negative demons tucked away in our brains, quietly influencing our decisions and I've been making a concerted effort over the past few years to tackle mine. This past month has involved a pretty persistent one.
I've known for a long time that I very likely have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA. When we enter REM sleep, our deepest sleep cycle, our muscles relax (so we don't act out our dreams!). For some of us, our muscles relax too much and the muscles in our throat actually collapse upon themselves, blocking the trachea and preventing us from breathing. This causes poor sleep (duh) because your body is constantly cycling into lighter sleep patterns in order to breath, and it also causes all sorts of other health problems like heart arrhythmia, increased risk of stroke and diabetes, and a whole host of other issues. Also, strangely enough, it causes chronic tiredness. Go figure, right?
Anyway, like I said, I've suspected I had this for about a year. And I did nothing. Why? Because it's scary. The idea that I might have it is scary and the treatment (having to wear a positive air pressure mask hooked up to a machine while sleeping for the rest of my life) is scary. You know what's even scarier, though?
I've spent most of my adult life thinking that everyone is as tired as I am, they just cope with it better. I've always assumed that there's just something inherently lazy about me because I'm always more exhausted than everyone else, and clearly they manage to make it work. So when I came upon the idea that maybe, just maybe, there's something wrong with me that can be fixed? Well...wow. That would be incredible!
But the other side of that coin is that if I get treatment, and it doesn't help....what does that mean? As long as I can safely say "oh, I'm just tired all the time because I probably have sleep apnea", then I have a crutch and an excuse. I can use it to justify how I feel. Is it rational? Of course not. Have I avoided being tested for sleep apnea for almost a year? You betcha.
So, this month, I got tested. They assign everyone numbers, based on their night time breathing. 0-5 is normal, 6-10 is possible OSA with further testing needed, and 10+ is confirmed OSA, treatment necessary.
I scored a 14.5
So, as of today, I'm on night 6 of wearing that scary breathing mask while sleeping. In 3-4 weeks I should know if it's going to make me feel less tired. And yeah, that's scary. But this whole project is about becoming better, healthier versions of ourselves, and that means tackling the scary.