For twelve years I have had to use a CPAP machine because I had sleep apnea. I can count the nights on one hand that I did not use the machine. I have lugged it to many conferences, overseas, to family’s homes, and anywhere I have traveled. I’ve had to track down distilled water in strange cities until I found out that I could use the machine without water. While none of this was pleasant, it helped me sleep. That was the good thing.
I was diagnosed with sleep apnea after a long summer of tests for all kinds of things. I slept all the time but never felt rested. I would go home after work, fall asleep, wake up for a short time and go back to bed. I slept most of Saturday and Sunday. My doctor at the time thought I might have thyroid problems. My sister had thyroid cancer and there were a few other people in my family who had thyroid problems. That wasn’t it. After a long summer of feeling rotten, lots of tests and lots of frustration, she sent me for a sleep test. That was it. I had sleep apnea. That meant a machine. I really did not have problems with the machine once I had it and I began feeling better because I was actually sleeping and felt rested.
If you don’t know what sleep apnea is, it means that you stop breathing during your sleep. That is the simple definition. The link above leads to more information on this disease. It is actually pretty common.
As of this morning, I no longer have sleep apnea. That means I no longer have to use this machine or haul it through airports or subjected to extra searches by TSA. I can actually carry on luggage now instead of a sleep machine. Best of all, this means that my weight loss and change in diet have resulted in one more very positive change in my life. I distinctly remember going through Logan Airport a short time after I was diagnosed. The gate agent told me about her sister who had sleep apnea, lost weight, and was able to quit using the machine. It gave me some hope at the time. After a while though, I thought I would never get rid of the machine.
My sleep doctor in Tuscaloosa is also a triathlete. He has encouraged me to exercise since I started seeing him after I moved here. It took me a while to do that. I did not know Dr. Snow was a triathlete until this year, however. He has been very encouraging about my training and about being able to get rid of the CPAP.
So, what did I do to celebrate? Ran a 5K. What did you think I would do? This morning was the Mule Kick 5K in Gordo, Alabama. This weekend Muleday/Chickenfest in Gordo. I was not sure I was going to make it because sometimes I don’t finish with a sleep test until later in the morning. Dr. Snow was at a triathlon though so I was able to finish early.
I headed out to Gordo and it was already 80 degrees before 7 a.m. I knew it was going to be hot because this week has been above normal. Yesterday it was 108 on the asphalt in the afternoon according to one of my biking buddies. I arrived, parked, got my number, stretched and started to sweat. Several people who I knew or recognized from the Tuscaloosa Track Club started to show up. I stood with a friend as we questioned our sanity but figured we were here, we might as well run. My goal was to finish today. I have not run for about two-three weeks. My left ankle has been bothering me and Sam has kept me off it. We tried to run on Tuesday but I was still in too much pain. I wasn’t sure how this morning would go. With the heat, my ankle, and also a two week sinus infection, I was thinking that 40 minutes would make me happy. I finished in 41:03. This is slower than I have been but there is more to the story, of course.
My first mile and a half were actually a pretty good pace. I was at right around 17 minutes at the mile and a half water stop. I had kept myself going, and run that far without walking, by talking to myself like Sam talks to me when we train. We often divide the run into various speeds. So I told myself to pick up the pace at several points. I like running on roads because I do things like pick out a mailbox or a corner and aim for it as a goal. I did that this morning. There was not a huge crowd of runners but I had settled into my usual end-of-the pack crowd. It didn’t matter to me today after my fabulous news about the sleep apnea. Before I reached the mile and half mark, I noticed a girl who was struggling with the heat. Well, everyone was, but she was having a pretty tough time. I decided that I would just stick with her for the rest of the run to make sure she made it, was ok, and to try to encourage her. That meant I walked more than I would have the last half of the run but that was ok with me. She had someone else running with her too but extra encouragement always helps. I ran beside her several times. She made it to the end and I followed her in. Several of her friends joined her the last block so I dropped back. Two of my friends came and ran in with me. I was able to kick at the end.
It’s good to be old because I did wind up with 2nd place in my Age Group. Since it was Mule Days, the trophy was a horse shoe. I like it.