Just got back from the respirologist’s office. He explained, in detail, what is going on with my sleep apnea: Long story short, I’ve been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea at an “index” of 65. I’d been told this, but my family doctor couldn’t explain to me what that meant: This morning I found out that an “index” of 65 means I stop breathing sixty-five times an hour while I sleep.
My first thought was “No fucking wonder I’ve got heart damage.”
Mild sleep apnea has an index of 5-15, moderate is 15-30. A diagnosis of severe OSA starts at an index of 30. I have an index of double that. So that’s kind of sobering.
I confirmed with the specialist that surgery is not an option in my case; best case my OSA is far too severe for the standard surgery to have any effect. Losing weight will help (as well as taking strain off my heart) but my only real treatment option is going to be using a CPAP machine every night for the rest of my life. I’m being booked for another sleep study clinic to get my long-term prescription and settings sorted, and then it’s the Darth Vader mask every night, forever. (I hope they have low-noise models, or The Fiancée™ isn’t going to be happy about it.)
I’m a bit disappointed by the specialist’s prognosis. I was really hoping that there would be an easy-fix, magic-bullet cure-all sort of approach to the situation. Maybe that was unrealistic of me, but that’s what I was hoping for. I know it’s not the end of the world, but this is a chronic condition that’s going to be an inconvenient hassle for the rest of my life… although in fairness getting treatment for obstructive sleep apnea does mean that “the rest of my life” will be measured in decades, not years.
There was one amusing incident at my appointment this morning. The specialist asked me to take off my shirt so that he could check my breathing with his stethoscope… only to be confronted with the state of my shoulder and upper arms. Thanks to a week which included two practices and a tournament, and the fact that I’m still getting used to my new torso armour (which doesn’t have spaulders at the moment) I’m a mess of bruises right now. The upper part of my right arm is a particularly lovely field of mottled purple-yellow thanks to Baron T’s bastard sword hit last week combined with Countess A’s rather wicked offside snaps on Saturday.
As I took off my shirt the specialist turned around and stopped halfway through a sentence to cry out “What happened to you?!” I had to explain the SCA to him in the middle of my consultation. It could be worse — he could have seen the state of my left hip this morning — and he didn’t ask why my right thumb is covered in a band-aid (I took a wonky shot on my right gauntlet last night, which burst a strap and caused the inside of my leather glove to remove a nice little divot from the very end. It could have been worse, but clearly there’s some shop time coming my way this weekend.)
So there it is: besides having to change the way I eat and exercise now I have to change the way I sleep. Whenever I get bummed out about it, however, I just remind myself that I could have remained undiagnosed until I had the heart attack which was scheduled to kill me sometime before 2020. Even with the snail’s-pace crawl of Ontario’s health system at least I’m getting the treatment I need, and OHIP and my company insurance will cover the worst of it; there’s plenty of people in this world who have it worse than me.