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Patient Stories: Karen - I Wish I'd Listened!

Kath Hope has been my friend for many years and after my husband told her he had witnessed me stopping breathing in my sleep, she had been trying to encourage me for a couple of years to see my GP for this problem - especially as I had daytime tiredness and bad migraines.  Of course I didn’t listen......that was until the day, when out of the blue, I was rushed to hospital with a  suspected TIA (mini stroke)!  This was the 'wake up' call I needed, as I already knew that untreated sleep apnoea is closely connected to strokes and heart attacks.

I never drink alcohol, aren't overweight and live a healthy lifestyle, so I needed to find out what had caused this frightening experience.  Still not convinced, but for my own piece of mind (and my husband's), I decided to hire the Hope2Sleep Pre-Diagnostic Screening Test (which incidentally I now mail out to other people in my current voluntary work with the Charity).  The screening tests indicated I was stopping breathing  13 to 22 per times per hour so I took the report to my GP  who then sent it on to our local sleep clinic.  Unfortunately, because of me being slim and not having a high Epworth score on the sleepiness questionnaire, I didn't fit the 'normal'  criteria I was told, so was refused a sleep study.  I was really concerned as I didn’t want another TIA or a full blown stroke, and by now my GP wasn’t giving me the support I needed, so I changed my GP and had a second opinion from another sleep clinic in another town.  I was relieved Michael Oko at the Boston Sleep Clinic listened to my concerns, read the home sleep report and arranged a professional sleep study.

Thank goodness I persevered, as I was told I did in fact have Sleep Apnoea and would be going on treatment within the week.  I was so relieved to know that there was an answer for this fatigue that made me feel like I was permanently living under a dark cloud.  I have been on CPAP ever since, every night, and I have never looked back, and would hate to go back to those old days of struggling with daily exhaustion.

I hope my story helps, in that if something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t.  If you feel your GP isn’t helping you, then change your GP or asked to be referred to a different sleep clinic who will listen to  your symptoms.  I am so pleased I did!  It is so important that people know that Sleep apnoea is not only in people who are obese or people with large necks - it affects all shapes and sizes - it doesn’t care about age either.....from tiny babies to the elderly.

Karen Danville - Trustee of Hope2Sleep Charity