At the start, it was unnoticeable. The loud, often obnoxious snoring radiating from my parents room that drove mom to spend nights by herself on the couch? Normal, everybody knows that dads snore. Dad coming home from work and collapsing in front of the television, simply because he lacked the energy to do anything else? Normal, he had a hard day at work, of course he’s tired. My once cheery, fun-loving father snapping at me for the hundredth time that day, because his mind is so foggy with exhaustion that he hardly knows what he’s saying? Normal, he probably just needs some space.
Yet the fact was, our family had not been “normal”, in a very long time. For years, my father (and as a result our entire family), suffered symptoms from what we just thought was exhaustion. He was middle aged and had gained a few pounds since high school, so his lack of energy was attributed to growing old and gaining weight. Little did we know that those are the two most common factors associated with a potentially serious sleep disorder known as Sleep Apnea.
Finally, my mother was able to persuade him to see a doctor about his symptoms. Although I’m sure she was concerned about his health, I also think she just wanted relief from his dreadful snoring. Whatever the motivation, my father finally saw a physician and was formally diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. We found that though Sleep Apnea is quite common, it is definitely not normal. Due to his Sleep Apnea, my father would regularly stop breathing while he slept, and these temporary cessations of breath could last for a few seconds to even a few minutes!
Luckily, the disorder is treatable. My dad was fitted with a CPAP machine, a device that pushed a continual stream of airway pressure into his nasal cavity. The effects of this treatment were almost immediate. My dad was no longer sluggish or irritable during the day, and the bone-crushing exhaustion he was used to gradually faded away. Finally, after years of suffering, my dad started getting the good night of rest that he deserved. CPAP has definitely allows him to be able to live a more fulfilling life, and I only wish that others could find this same relief. This industry could change the health of so many Americans, but many do not even know what Sleep Apnea is. By raising awareness of the devastating effects of this disorder, we will be improving the quality of life for so many people and giving them the opportunity of treatment. There are many debilitating disorders in America, but Sleep Apnea should not be one of them.