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Profile IconBLev and bruce david joined SleepGuide
Aug 21
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. . .

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Comment by Banyon on February 12, 2009 at 7:55pm
It is an exaggeration (but maybe not a big one) that everyone has sleep-disordered breathing or will eventually have it as they age. So I tell everyone that I have sleep apnea and use the CPAP process. I even hound some friends and family about getting their own sleep study. At the moment I am "working on" a 28-year old nephew who snores heavily and told us about waking up on the sofa gasping and then falling and cutting his head on a table. If we can ever get all the cases diagnosed and treated, we are going to be in the majority.

When I was younger kids who had orthodontic braces were the exception and were often teased and called "metal mouth" or worse by their peers. By the time my kids came along it was fashionable to have braces. Let's hurry up and get to the point where it is a stigma to have SDB and not use CPAP!
Comment by Henning on February 12, 2009 at 6:09pm
My wife is a light sleeper, and she was the one who told me that I did not draw breath at the night.

I have never been a snorer, so it was not the problem. When I came in CPAP treatment it did so much noise for my wife, that we opted to have our own bedroom.

But this does not mean that we hide my situation and in reality there is no problem, except when we are on holiday in a hotel. In this situation we prefer two rooms.

Comment by Daniel on February 12, 2009 at 5:02pm
Bravo for bringing up this taboo subject. People who are successful with CPAP are rarely ashamed of it, so it wouldn't surprise me if a poll revealed that most are not ashamed. However, I meet with many people who are unsuccessful with CPAP, and I find that a significant portion of people who are unsuccessful often say things like, "I look hideous wearing this mask," or they feel like putting a mask on is like taking one step into the grave.

I definitely think that single people who are looking to get into a relationship have some tougher issues to deal with on the psychological front than those who have bed partners. The toughest demographic that I have to work with are 18 - 24 year old males. They think they are immortal and they can't imagine spending an evening with someone, giving them a kiss goodnight, and then putting a mask on. How do you cuddle while wearing a CPAP mask? It's real, and it's tough to live with. Only when people truly know that they feel better when they use CPAP do these issues start to recede, but getting to that stage isn't always easy.
Comment by Mary Ann McPheeters on February 12, 2009 at 4:57pm
Well, I think Peter needs to 'grow up'! What kind of maturity denies health facts? To do so only encourages a situation that will contribute to ill health, disease, and death! Nope, I and my husband, daughters, friends and mother all accept that it is a fact; we have sleep apnea, we each have to have the 'apparatus' each night, and actually, our other friends and family have learned that it is best for THEIR comfort and sleep that we use our apparatus...we won't snore! Yeah, everyone gets a good night sleep and can go forth the next day with zip and enthusiasm, not with a nagging headache and flagging energy.

If someone truly honestly loves you, they will advocate that you do ALL that's possible to maintain health. If the sleeping mate wants to have some fun first, fine, go for it! There's more fun available when you have good health and rest. When you're finally really ready to sleep, just give 'em a hug and a kiss goodnight before you roll over and put the 'apparatus' on. The lights can go out and the night will be a good one for each of you. The next day, and all the ones after that will be better too!

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