Apnea & Body Image

Posted by Raeanne Pemberton on

Last week I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. It's on the milder side, but it is still very present and I'm sure having an effect on my health. When I got the news, it floored me. I was in disbelief. I couldn't believe I was actually ceasing to breath multiple times per hour, each night. Yet, it explains SO MUCH.

The implications, and the irrational implications of this news were paralyzing. What would my husband say to sleeping next to a woman with a breathing mask? What about the stigma of those who have sleep apnea? Couldn't I just lose weight to get rid of it? I must be way too overweight. I better crash diet, FAST! I hope I don't have a heart attack. What has this done to my GAINS!!???

Deep breath....

Over the last few days, the irrational thoughts have subsided and I have come to a few realizations. For one, I'm ready to start sleeping well. I'm ready to feel rested all day long. I'm ready to think clearly, and to be able to watch movies with my husband without nodding off during the first 15 minutes. I'm ready to stop forgetting things, and making silly mistakes that I have to laugh off. I'm ready to see what true recovery can do for my physical strength and powerlifting/strongman goals.

I'm ready.

My husband had the best words for me. First he said... "We'll get through this.... the CPAP will be white noise and I'll get used to it...." then he said, "Imagine how strong you're going to be!" His words meant so much and made me feel better immediately.

I also did some research and found that apnea is very common among strength athletes. Not only does excess bodyfat contribute, but mass of ANY kind (ie. muscle) can contribute to apnea and the throat relaxing at night. I'm definitely not in denial about the fact that I have a good 40-50 lbs of excess fat I could lose, but I'm also very aware that I'm not willing to lose all of that -- and especially not super quickly. I wouldn't mind losing 10 lbs or so, but who's to say if that will "cure" my apnea completely?

Through my research I also learned that apnea is NOT isolated to morbidly obese individuals and that it can be hereditary as well. There are several factors that can improve apnea, and I do most of those already. (No excess alcohol, stop smoking, exercise, sleep on your side...). So the logical choice is to go forward with the CPAP treatment and to maybe diet down a bit, slowly, while still getting stronger.

I have to also recognize that I have likely had apnea for YEARS and just never knew it. There is no doubt that when I was 254 lbs, it must have been present. I'm just glad I know now so I can take action.

I am very thankful I caught it now, before it's too late. Sleep apnea can lead to heart disease, hypertension, heart attack, and loads of other negative affects. Severe apnea can cause death in the night. This is not something to take lightly, and I'm willing to do what I need to in order to let my body be the healthiest it can be.

Do you struggle to stay awake sometimes? It may be time for an at-home sleep test, it could possibly save your life.

Update 4/13/15
I got the call today to go get fitted for my CPAP machine this week. I'm so excited and I can't wait to start getting rest! I also got to see my actual test results, and it showed that my heart rate spiked over 90 bpm multiple times IN MY SLEEP as a result of my oxygen levels getting below 87%.  My usual resting heart rate is around 50 bpm and I have to walk at a pretty brisk pace for a while to reach 90 bpm while awake. This is mind boggling to me, and goes to show how hard this can be on the body -- even at mild apnea levels. If you or someone you love suffers from this, take action! You don't know when it will be too late.

Read more:



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published