Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just Breathe

When John was a newborn, my husband had sleep apnea. Horribly. And he snores. And Sarah was 15 months old, and still not sleeping through the night. Imagine my nights. Up nursing John for a half hour or so, then give him a bottle of formula because I had to supplement. Shuffle back to bed after being up for about 45 minutes. Sarah would usually begin to whimper for me maybe a half hour later. Up I'd get. Calm her down, climb back in bed. Cue husbands snoring. Nudge him. Fall asleep to the sound of his even breathing as I listen to the sound of John's not so even breathing on the monitor. (Remember, John breathed weird from day one.) Then, husband would STOP breathing and gasp for breath and I'd jerk awake, punching at him to WAKE UP and BREATHE!! My heart would settle back down to a normal rhythm and then John would wake up. And so the cycle would begin again. Every.Single.Night.  For about three months.

One day I was talking to friend of mine who is also a nurse. I was complaining about my husbands sleep apnea, his complete denial and refusal to do anything about it. She is such a wise woman. She told me to call his doctor's office and speak with one of the nurses. They'd mark it in his charts and at his next appointment they'd screen him for sleep apnea, all without him saying a word to the doctor. Genius! I did just that, and luck was on my side. He had an appointment later that week!

Three days later, my husband saunters through the door of our home. He props a hip against our counter,  leans back and gives me the smuggest, most knowing smile ever. I'm in a sleep deprived haze, juggling bottles, breast, barf, blankets and breakfast dishes. But that look stopped me in my tracks.

"Sleep apnea?" He asked, grinning at me. And we were off. He was laughing, I was yelling. It was the same argument we'd been having for 3 months, only now he had a doctor backing him up. The doctor gone down the checklist and Husband didn't have a single symptom of sleep apnea. Not one! (Except of course, that I had to keep waking him up because he kept NOT breathing!) Husband laughed some more, and I lost it. I burst into tears, handed him John and fled to the shower. I stood in the shower stall just sobbing. When I finally let my husband in he pretty much demanded that I go see a doctor myself. I'd battled PPD before, and this little 'crying jag' alone screamed "I need some help" based on what I'd been through before. So I dug out my references and made an appointment for me. And continued to wake up my husband multiple times a night to keep him alive.

I went to my appointment, where I talked with a psychiatrist about my symptoms, feelings, sleep patterns etc. He suggested an antidepressant. ( It was one that was safe for breast feeding babies, no worries.) I'd been on and off them for years, so it wasn't as if I was surprised. But three weeks later, oh, was I surprised.

My husbands sleep apnea? Totally cured itself.

Yeah. I know. It's a miracle! Praise the Lord! He won't be dying in his sleep! I can get some sleep now! No more waking up to the sound of Husband suffocating! No more waking up to the sound of Husband gasping for his final breath! Oh . . . wait . . .

That was me. That was me waking myself up gasping and panting. That was me having multiple panic attacks a night.  Not Husband's dying breath. My full blown anxiety and racing heart as my brain went into overload in my sleep.

So Husband had the pleasure of telling his doctor that 'his' sleep apnea was 'cured' when his wife adjusted her meds :) and I had the pleasure of getting a little healthier. Of course, if you've read any of my past posts, here and here,  you'll know that I went way downhill from there. But we must be able to laugh at ourselves! This is one of our favorite stories to tell people -- even though it totally shows how crazy PPD/depression can physically and mentally make you, you have to admit, it is funny!


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