The Sleep Thief


The joy I experienced on vacation while visiting the grandchildren has been eclipsed by a minor medical problem.

I am a Sleep Apnea patient. However, my continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which allows me to breathe while I sleep, decided last night that enough was enough; it stopped working. Fortunately for me I have medical insurance; silly me, I thought that since  I was covered, it would be all right.

I called my provider. Unfortunately, my provider is not in my new insurance network.

Job one: find a new provider. That was the easy part; actually I found several.

Job two: fill out all the required forms and meet all the provider and doctor required conditions; obligations. Well, hell I would do anything to get a good night’s sleep. But I cannot meet those conditions to replace or repair the machine without an appointment with the sleep doctor. Sounds reasonable; I am willing. The first available appointment, however, is almost a month away.

Although this is not a life threatening emergency; it is an emergency.

Without my continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine I cannot sleep normally. It is known that a  chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight gain, even hypertension and Diabetes. Sleep deprivation can adversely affect brain function, too.

I am intimately familiar with all of the above. Before I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, I  lived with all of the effects of a  chronic sleep-restricted state and now I will have to repeat that experience while I wait for a doctor’s appointment to repair the machine that allows me to sleep normally.

Four years ago, I had gone to many doctors to find out why I was fainting. After an  odessey of appointments and tests that lasted over a year I discovered I was not fainting; I was simply falling asleep several times a day, even while walking and exercising.

This is my fate, again. In addition, lack of sleep precipitated other severe health problems that I must deal with now on a daily basis.

Did I mention that I do have health insurance?

Yet, soon I will be entering that Twilight Zone of sleep deprivation because our health system and procedure mandates it. All my health information is in my records. The insurance company and my doctors know I must have that exact equipment to remain healthy and sane. My sleep doctor has repeatedly explained to me that without the Cpap machine I face the threat of an imminent stroke, too.

Now I cannot comply with treatment and truthfully I am again afraid. I also feel helpless—a terrible feeling similar to watching the events leading to a train wreck that I cannot prevent or stop.

I came home from vacation to a minor medical problem that has become a major hassle with insurance and medical providers. There has to be a better way to stay healthy and sane.

Did I mention that I do have health insurance?

Comment from Leslie:

Under the right set of circumstances, this actually *could* be a life-threatening emergency. If you fall asleep while driving, if you have that stroke, if you fall the wrong way or against the wrong thing because you just fell asleep while walking . . . It’s amazing (and appalling) that one has to wait a month before having a condition like that attended to. Leslie

Comment from cousin Luis:

Dear Carole, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea last week. The RN that did the test explained the causes and effects of the disorder. I didn’y grasp the severity of the problem till i read your blog. It surely explains the hell i have been going through for some time( I’m not a spring chicken anymore) and I thought it was me getting older. Thanks , with love, Luis.

By the way i tried to do the comment on your blog but it keeps telling me I have not a good e-mail and i did type my e-mail address corectly.

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2 thoughts on “The Sleep Thief

  1. I am beginning to believe that the enemy we know is tolerable, but the enemy we don’t know is fearsome. In the United States, we routinely have to wait a week, month, or even several months to get an appointment with a medical specialist. During that wait we worry that our medical condition will worsen, but we’re resigned to the wait – because that’s just the way things are.

    I’ve heard some people criticizing the long delays before people are treated in Canada and other countries – what exactly is the difference other than our own system looks less scary to us?

    Also, it appears that some of the delays people experience in those countries are much shorter than what we experience here.

    I hope you can get a loaner tomorrow so your machine can be sent for repairs and you won’t have to be sleep deprived!

  2. Under the right set of circumstances, this actually *could* be a life-threatening emergency. If you fall asleep while driving, if you have that stroke, if you fall the wrong way or against the wrong thing because you just fell asleep while walking . . . It’s amazing (and appalling) that one has to wait a month before having a condition like that attended to.

    Leslie

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