SNORING IS OFTEN A SYMPTOM of sleep apnea, which means oxygen flow is constricted. With breathing blocked, you awake—again and again and again. As a result, you’re tired during the day, but worse, you could stop breathing in your sleep. It doesn’t have to be this way. The HCM Sleep Lab in Fredericksburg off Hwy. 16 North can assess your sleep patterns. A secure, comfortable, one-story house, the HCM Sleep Lab has yellow bricks and green shutters with a handicap ramp. With the exception of one room with computers where health care professionals monitor one or two sleepers a night, the décor is like a typical Fredericksburg bed and breakfast. Patients arrive in the evening and spend the night. Their sleep patterns are evaluated through vital sign measurements and electronic observance.
After a night spent in the HCM Sleep Lab, a report is provided to your physician, who can create a treatment plan. One treatment option is to prescribe continuous positive airway pressure
(CPAP) aid, which will help improve oxygen flow. With steady oxygen, you’re no longer snoring, no longer waking to breathe, and you’re no longer tired during the day. Furthermore, you sleep safely.
Talk to your doctor to see if the HCM Sleep Lab can help you. Snoring may be an alarm, and it’s time to wake to the options.
Linda Wilson’s sleep story
Patient adds more time to her day after her visit
When Linda Wilson retired as a director of communications and records for the City of Stafford and moved to Fredericksburg with her husband in 2002, she envisioned lots to accomplish, but an unsuspecting ailment—a sleep disorder—got in the way.
In retirement, she first began donating her time to the Hill Country Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and Philanthropic Education Organization (PEO). She stayed busy, but after four years, her productivity slowed and she started doing something she hadn’t before—snoring. Her husband, Charlie, complained.
“I told him who are you to criticize. You snore, too,” she says, and she didn’t pay any more attention to her snoring. But she also began experiencing something else. She would get so tired during the day that she had to take a nap—often three hours long.
“I would just sit down in the recliner at around 3 in the afternoon to rest,” she says, “and soon I was asleep. Sometimes I wouldn’t wake up until 6.”
She lived with the daily interruption for about two years, and then one day she had her annual check-up from internal medicine physician Pamela Cantu, MD.
“We had completed my exam and I just mentioned to her that I just didn’t want to get out of bed mornings, and that I would have problems staying awake during the day. I would have to take long daytime naps.” Ms. Wilson says Dr. Cantu advised her there may be something more significant at hand, like sleep apnea, where a person quits breathing during the night and wakes up again and again. People who suffer from sleep apnea don’t realize the interruptions because it’s for such a brief moment, but they do 0lose sleep. She referred Ms. Wilson to the Hill Country Memorial Hospital Diagnostic Sleep Lab.
With Dr. Cantu’s referral, Ms. Wilson called the Sleep Lab and scheduled an appointment.
“I was anxious when I thought about sleeping and being watched,” Ms. Wilson says, but I was determined to find out what was wrong with me. When I arrived, they made me feel comfortable and I felt fine.”
Ms. Wilson said she got up in the morning and went home. The Sleep Lab results were read by pulmonologist Kenneth Terrell, MD, and sent to Dr. Cantu, and she said the report confirmed Ms. Wilson did indeed suffer from sleep apnea. Her airway would become blocked when she snored and she was waking up numerous times throughout the night. It was costing her precious sleep. Dr. Cantu prescribed a CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure. CPAP delivers a steady stream of air at a prescribed pressure to sustain an open airway.
“At first I didn’t like wearing it,” Ms. Wilson said. “Straps were wrapped around the sides of my face and I couldn’t sleep on my side. I’m a side sleeper and it bothered me. Then I got one with straps that go over the top of my head instead, and it has worked out great.”
The result was Ms. Wilson is no longer taking a nap, and if she does, it’s only for a short time.
“I have much more time again,” Ms. Wilson said. “I can get a lot more done. Life is short and you don’t want to spend all your time sleeping and snoring. I told Charlie I was going to ask his doctor for a referral for him.”
Ms. Wilson said she has enjoyed serving as the hospital auxiliary president for the past two years.
My term expires in January, and we want to do some traveling. I also want to do counted cross-stitch. It’s like someone gave me an extra three hours a day, and I’m not taking them for granted.”
More importantly, her life may be saved.
“It’s pretty scary when you think about stopping breathing,” she says. “If you stop for long enough, you could certainly die, so Dr. Cantu, the Sleep Lab and the CPAP could be responsible for saving my life. I’m grateful to everyone who provides and stands behind these technologies.”