Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Near-Death Experience

As a morbidly obese person, I'm aware that my life is at risk, but it's different when you actually experience something that could potentially kill you. This happened to me last night.

Because of my size, I suffer from sleep apnea, which is when you stop breathing in your sleep. It's fairly common, even for thinner people, but obesity is a contributing factor to this condition. Most people who suffer from it and lose weight do experience it less, and sometimes even recover from it completely. Then there are those who have a really severe case and have to sleep attached to a machine called a CPAP, which helps them breathe. My case isn't that severe ... knock on wood. If I sleep on my side, I'm usually okay.

That said, it has gotten better since I've lost some weight, and I've gone for a few weeks now where I haven't awoke in the middle of the night gasping for air. Still, when it does happen, it's a weird and scary experience. I wake up and go to take a breath ... and then realize I can't. Then I sit up and it feels as if my throat is opening up and my breath comes back in loud gasps.

Usually, my breath comes back in one or two gasps, but last night it literally took about two minutes for me to fully get my breath back. I kept wheezing and gasping, my husband was freaking out which made me even more panicked and I seriously thought that I was going to die. I finally forced myself to relax and I was able to breathe again.

Then I felt as if I had a huge weight on my chest. It was all tight and heavy and I thought that I might be having a heart attack. But as I was debating whether to have my husband call an ambulance, I let out a few really loud belches. My chest immediately felt better, though my throat was all sore and strained.

After that, Jon went in the other room and I stayed up and read for a while. I was scared to go back to sleep for fear that this would happen again. Truthfully, I'm fearing what will happen tonight. At the moment, I feel pretty awful since I basically got about an hour of sleep, and it hurts to breathe since I was straining so much.

So I'm trying to lose weight more quickly now. I don't even care about my appearance at this point; I just want this sleep apnea to go away before it gets to the point where I need a machine at night. My immediate plan of attack is to eat less sugar and fewer carbs. I started today and did a so-so job of following this. I usually have cereal, fruit and toast for breakfast, but I elminated the toast portion. Instead, I had a cup of low-fat yogurt and a piece of string cheese about halfway through the morning. For lunch, I had a cup of tomato soup and an awesome salad with carrots, oranges, chickpeas and chopped egg.

And then I failed at dinner. I had some leftover pasta and ice cream from a few nights ago ... and I polished it off. I don't know why I did this, but instead of beating myself up I went and planned tomorrow's menu in advance. I think I need to have another healthy snack in the late afternoon. This way, I won't come home and gorge. I also need to make sure that our home has plenty of healthy snacks. Right now we have little things of applesauce, so I'll bring one tomorrow as a snack at work. I haven't really discussed my history of eating disorders with my therapist yet (we're still getting to know each other), but I'm going to tell her about this and see if she can give me some help with the psych part.

By the way, Jon just came home and said that the whole sleep apnea episode only lasted about 15 seconds, not two minutes. It still felt long, though.

My plan for tonight is to take a hot shower, read, try to relax and then go to bed early so I can have a better day tomorrow. I don't know why taking care of myself is so difficult for me. I'm sure that most of you have heard that actor Corey Haim died. He was only 38, but was in and out of rehab 15 times in his adult life. He just could not beat his addiction and it did him in. Though I'm not addicted to drugs, I don't want my food addiction to do me in. Unlike him, I'm still alive. This means that for now I have a fighting chance.

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