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Fatigue and a Feeling of Constant Dread With My Sleep Apnea

by Jeanette
(Louisville, KY)

I was diagnosed about 8 years ago with OSA - having about 20-25 episodes every hour (Apnea/Hypopnea Index) where I would stop breathing. I would wake up gasping for air and coughing uncontrollably.

I have now been using CPAP religiously every night for the past 4 years - a full face gel mask with a heated humidifier in the machine. I may not snore anymore while using CPAP, but I sure as heck am still fatigued during the day.

I don't know if the increased risk of so many diseases that come with not using CPAP therapy or even increased risk of death has got me so worked up that I am not able to reap the benefits of CPAP, or if it's just not working for me, but I just feel doomed. I lay in bed night after night feeling like the life is literally being sucked from my body and that I may not wake up again. My throat closes up and when I put the mask on and turn on the machine I feel like I have to make myself breathe, that it's not automatic. (And the throat closing feeling is also evident quite often during the day even). I am so scared that every night when I go to bed might be my last.

The daytime isn't much better - I am constantly tired; feel like I'm going to drift off when driving and even look forward to a red light so I can close my eyes and rest for a few seconds. And the other thing that happens every day is that I get a few rare moments of energy and then suddenly the energy is zapped out of my body instantly and anyone around me
at the time has to deal with my sudden change of temper - I become irritable and mean when this happens because I go from this short lived energetic moment to feeling like I'm on death's door.

I've been to cardiologists, have had stress tests, echos, EKG's, scans and X-rays of all types and all of the horrible diseases have been ruled out - so is this all in my mind?

Everything I am experiencing is physical and is making life absolutely miserable for me. I have to say no to family gatherings and events, no to getaways and vacations and fun things because I know the energy will not be there to enjoy these things with my family and friends - they just see it as me being snobbish and not wanting to spend time with them; just like when I am around them and I'm constantly yawning they think I'm just bored with them. It's such a vicious cycle and I'm ready for it to be over - I have no quality of life and I get so jealous when I see others my age or even 10-20 years older having so much energy and enjoying life - why can't that be me too? I am 61 and feel like a 90 year old most of the time.

I wish there was a magic cure or a doctor out there that really took a genuine interest in helping me feel better. Physically, all of this has done a number on my appearance - I have deep wrinkles in my face and just appear extremely tired looking all of the time. No energy means no exercise so I've put on about 40 pounds over the past 10 years. Am I beyond help?

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Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

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