Friday, July 27, 2012

Sleep Apnea?

I hear it all the time from doctors and nurses or people in the health care industry. Usually it's said in disbelief as they look me up and down. "You're on CPAP therapy?" "But you're in shape." Yes. Apparently I'm an anomaly. I WAS always told I was special as a kid.

Right after college, I began to sleep more at times when other people were out enjoying life. After work I would take a 2-3 hour nap. On the weekends I would sleep all day long. It's no surprise why I was single for so long. Once in a while someone would ask me about it and I just figured it was because I was such a hard worker and say, "Look man...I'm leaving it all on the field at work." After I met Heather she would say, "I've never met anyone who sleeps as much as you do." I would come home from work and simply NOT be able to keep my eyes open. I could fall asleep sitting in a chair and be out for days. Heather would have to physically shove me in order to wake me up for dinner.

I know I had sleep apnea for years before Heather finally made me go to 2 sleep studies. If you ever get the chance...those are great fun. Nothing quite like sleeping in an unfamiliar setting with all kinds of wires hooked up to you monitoring your every move. There's also someone in the other room watching you on camera and as professionally as they presented themselves to you earlier, they are now laughing their ass off as you toss and turn, get tangled up in said wires and scratch and rub on various parts of your anatomy. There is also sound for them so they hear any snoring or gasping and I'm sure even the random fart being produced from your body which I never have been known to have an issue with. My first study indicated that I did, in fact, have many apneas during the night and was not getting restful sleep. My second study was to determine how many liters of supplemental oxygen to put me on (because they found I was only getting about 70% of what normal people get).

About a year ago, Mountain Flyer magazine did an article on a guy riding for Ibis who had sleep apnea. I can't recall his name but I'm pretty sure he was more of a cross country racer. I don't know that I know anyone who does more ultra/endurance racing that suffers from the disorder. I've talked for years about wanting to ride Tour Divide. It wasn't until a few weeks ago when I realized that I might not be able to do that. I suspect (and hope) that when doing something like CTR, I will be able to cope. I expect to be pretty groggy and worry a bit about making a mistake that results in an injury because I'm so tired but all I can do is be careful.

I've been on therapy for a few years now I guess. Sometimes I still take a nap but it's not often and there's even times where I can't fall asleep for a quick nap. In 2008 and 2009 I was not on therapy when I raced the Colorado Trail so I didn't know what good sleep felt like anyways. In 2011 I was on it but that was a rough year and after quitting before night one, I never knew how going without therapy truly felt under those circumstances. There are times when I will run out of distilled water or forget to clean the parts of the CPAP machine and go without it. I never bring the CPAP along on vacations because, for me, the supplemental oxygen is the biggest piece and it's probably easier to drag a dead body along than lug that machine anywhere and we're never doing much more than lounging by the pool and sipping on cocktails when we go somewhere. This will be the first year that I will find out how it feels to go without it for this long and after such big efforts during the day/night. I realized this when I woke up this morning and thought, "If this was Tuesday morning of next week, I'd be hoping to cover 100 miles today." Only difference is that on Tuesday morning I won't be quite as recovered as I was on Monday. Each day it will become more apparent. I'm excited to get going. I've never been this calm before the start. I never considered the sleeping issues before. They've made me a bit nervous. Jon Jones is an MMA fighter and I once heard him say something about being nervous before a big fight. It was something about being nervous and having butterflies but that it was ok because all he had to do was get them to fly in formation. That's all I gotta do. That and hope that I don't unintentionally fall asleep somewhere. If you're reading this and doing the CTR this year, please wake me up if you find me dead asleep anywhere along the route (under a nice pine tree, on a rock, and especially in the parking lot of a City Market).

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