By Elyse R,
As long as I can remember, I was always the heavy kid. I was the heavy kid way before it was so common these days. I was heavy, but I was always a funny kid as well. But, my weight was not funny later in life, as by age 53 in 2011 I was always sleepy, and always snoring, I later found out that I had pauses in breathing while sleeping and usually woke up feeling tired. I was 295 pounds at 5 feet 8 inches with a BMI of 40.3. My doctor suggested a CPAP.
On Feb 21, 2011 I had a Split Night sleep study done on me. I understood the results; since my profession is as a Sleep Technician. My job now is too review reports in 30 second time frames, called epics. I can tell when a patient was awake, had a seizure, check on brain waves, stop breathing and even grind their teeth! My AHI (Apnea Hypopnea Index) was 37.6. So I stopped breathing a scary 37 times an hour. I also had a Low Oxygen (O2) saturation of 83%. At 3:00 a.m. I put on a CPAP a pressure setting of 9cm of H20 and my AHI went down to 3.4 in Supine REM sleep. I was amazed at how good the CPAP worked at putting filtered room air down my throat to open up my airways. This did prove to me that sleep apnea being called the “fat man’s disease” was true in my case. Even though now just about anyone can be diagnosed with it, including children. My doctor then recommended surgery.
I had 3 surgery options; Lap Band, Gastric Bypass and the Gastric Sleeve. The Lap Band was not an option because I sneeze a lot due to allergies and was told the band could move out of place. The Gastric Bypass was not an option because the different medicines I was taking due to my weight would have burned through my new stomach. So I had the Gastric Sleeve Surgery done when I was 56 years old, on October 10, 2013. They took 80% of my stomach through 6 small holes in my chest. My stomach now looks like a small banana. For 2 weeks I could only have a little broth and protein shakes. I had to use a iphone application timer to help me learn how to eat again. I can only have 8 ounces of food and it takes me about 2 hours to eat. I have to chew my food very well and only swallow every 2 minutes.
On January 17, 2014 I had a follow up Home Study done with a weight of 220 pounds. My AHI was now 4.1 with a low O2 of 89%. This was very good and not on CPAP! I can now ride a bike for 15 miles a day and even tie my own shoes. I have learned a lot from my experience. Before the surgery, I was depressed, always hot and sweaty. I have even noticed people treat me differently. When I was over weight people looked at me like I was lazy and had no control. I had tried for years and years to lose weight, but for me it was genetics and no matter how little I ate, I still gained. I am grateful for the CPAP done in 2011, as that was the beginning of my answer to my life long problem.