Patient Profile: From Exhaustion to an Energized, Healthy Lifestyle

A couple decades of Steve’s* life passed without a restful night’s sleep. How he kept his life moving forward productively is a testament to his strong-willed nature and positive energy—whatever energy remained after his sleep apnea-plagued nights.

“I have no idea how many years I’ve had sleep apnea, but my wife, who is a nurse, would tell me that I'd stop breathing in the middle of the night, and for years she told me that I snored so bad that the rest of the family couldn’t sleep,“ explains Steve, 53, also a registered nurse and father of two.

Diagnosed 18 months ago with severe obstructive sleep apnea, Steve’s life has changed dramatically since he began his nightly treatment with CPAP (continuous positive air pressure). “God help the person who comes between me and my CPAP machine—or even more so, whoever comes between that machine and my wife!“ he jokes about how treatment has affected every aspect of his life.

Before being diagnosed and treated, Steve would drink coffee and eat all day to stay awake (and subsequently gain weight, which typically makes sleep apnea worse) and slug his way through the day’s work, pushing headstrong through his daily exhaustion. Even though he had always been an athlete, Steve’s activity level dropped, as he had minimal energy for exercise.

The seeming simplicity of a restful night’s sleep has had a profound effect on Steve’s life, and he has new perspective on his now-diagnosed illness and his overall health. “I don’t know why I didn’t deal with this 15 years ago,” he says. “Even as a medical professional, knowing the damage sleep apnea can do, I just tried to deal with life being tired every day. I have a family history of heart disease and daily stress with work. What damage did I do to myself? And it was hard to find the energy to deal with the day.” Today, he is reaping the residual benefits of being treated successfully for sleep apnea: waking up refreshed and having stamina throughout the day, having a renewed sense of the importance of proper nutrition and exercise, losing more than 50 pounds, and investing energy in healthy activities.

“I tell people, don’t deny it,” Steve says. “If you’re wife is telling you you’re stopping breathing at night, go see your doctor. It has happened with a few of my friends, and you come to it in your own good time. But this is a no-brainer! The difference in your health, lifestyle, and the way you just feel every day is profound.”

Although Steve’s legendary snoring once cleared out an entire camp site of Boy Scouts, today he packs up the battery pack to his CPAP machine when he and his son head off for the tranquility of the woods. Steve sleeps soundly under the stars—with no complaints thus far from the critters.

*Steve’s last name is not used to protect privacy.