Are we ashamed of having Sleep Apnea? I know the answer for myself is a resounding "no." But for others, it's not so simple. To my way of thinking, Sleep Apnea is a common disorder to which no stigma is attached. Sure, sleeping with a hose attached to a breathing machine every night is inconvenient, but I don't feel as if it's something I need to hide. But for my friend Peter (name changed for sake of anonymity), it's a black mark that he feels compelled to hide from others. When he wakes up in the morning, he takes care to stash the machine, mask and other apparatus out of the view of anyone who might visit his home. When he travels, he will insist on staying in a room alone, even though others are pairing up and sleeping in the same hotel room. And if he has a lady friend over to spend the night, he most certainly will not sleep with the machine that night. In fact, he would keep it from a significant other for weeks, maybe months, until he felt extremely close with her.
Now, I'm married and he's single. I live in the 'burbs and he lives in the city. Perhaps these lifestyle differences account for some of the gap between how we feel about our Sleep Apnea. Until I meet someone with Sleep Apnea who's married and also feels that having the disorder is a stigma, this is the only hypothesis I have. . .