Wow, so many responses, some filled with relief, some filled with despair, some filled with legit medical advice from professionals, but most of all, you got responses from people who are alive and well. Survivors, you could honestly say, in multiple ways. Untreated sleep apnea has caused many fatalities, strokes, and other critical issues related to a lack of adequate oxygen to the brain. Snoring, fatigue, and needing 10 hours of sleep every night just to function the next day are all serious issues that require serious measures.
My long story short, I had been dumped by girlfriends, had friends yell me awake in my tent on camping trips, and even had a neighbor mention my snoring.
I started out with Breathe Right strips and nose sprays, which helped a bit, but it wasn't until I was engaged that my fiancee said she could no longer live with it. Not many things are as embarrassing or as harmful to a relationship than to wake up in the middle of the night and find your significant other trying to sleep on the living room couch because they couldn't sleep, and I wouldn't wake up.
At this point, I finally sought medical attention and got a sleep study, with predictable results. Every time I snored, my "Pulse Ox," as they call it, dropped to dangerous levels without my conscious knowledge. Options were discussed. I first went with surgery - fixed a deviated septum, widened the nasal passages, and had a laser taken to my uvula and soft pallete tissue, all in one step. Fortunately, recovery was mostly pain free and within a few weeks, my snoring was gone. Yay!
But then it slowly returned over 6 months. My nasal passages re-constricted themselves and the surgeon said he was unable to do anything about it. He sent me to be fitted with a mouthpiece that literally dislocates my jaw and thrusts it forward. Not very comfortable, but effective enough according to another sleep study, and not being kicked out of bed in the middle of the night anymore. I also combine this with nightly doses of 12-hour Afrin, to which I'm literally addicted to now.
All was well and good until it wasn't. I would either wake up short of breath in the morning, feeling like I never slept at all, or be jolted awake by a panic attack and gasping for air. If you're lucky, your unconscious brain can tell your adrenal glands to work overtime to get you awake so you don't, like die or in your sleep. The snoring had only returned to a dull roar that my now-wife can endure by wearing ear plugs, and the jolting awake thing is quite rare, but clearly something is wrong. And thanks to being dumped by my health insurance company after the treatments, I don't have the financial ability to seek further treatment - aka, a CPAP machine.
Unable to get health insurance at any cost because of this pre-existing condition, my only hope is "Obamacare," when the non-denial clause kicks in. I'm sure it will be very expensive though, which is also a problem because of the view of my recession. Wish me luck.
(Photo by Flickrite pne)