RE: Scared to death!
Congratulations on landing here... this is a great community which I also have just joined today, but I have visited for weeks and found lots of valuable advice here that helped me understand this condition, what comes next, helped me know how to talk to my DME and choose my CPAP machine and mask, and to make informed decisions before committing big dollars. I am grateful to the members and hope to be able to give back, which leads me to your post today.
You ask a timely question because I just recently got converted from apnea denier to now dealing with it. I was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago, got a CPAP machine yesterday, and looking forward to feeling a LOT better soon. Most importantly, my wife also bugged me about it and I can share a guy's perspective on how you might be able to help your husband.
Here are some thoughts, hope something in here clicks and is helpful to you:
* First you probably know it's hard to hear this stuff from a spouse. Your comment about how he reacts tells me that when you talk to him about this he takes it as criticism not to be taken seriously but dismissed along with other things as spouses sometimes do. I felt that way. I dismissed my spouse's genuine concerns because they were kind of lost in the other criticisms we say to each other way too often. I did that. You may not do that, but he might still hear it that way. It's easier for a guy to dismiss it than take it to heart sometimes. Rightly or wrongly, not your fault, it's just how we are.
* one thing you might consider is NOT continually talk to him across the room or across the table about it like you normally engage each other. Get next to him, hold both hands in yours, look him in the eyes for a moment before you speak, and tell him you love him and need him to listen to you for a few moments about something life threatening you are worried about. Get as far away from ragging on each other as you can. Don't do it in a place where you sometimes throw darts at each other. Do it in a way as if you were telling him his brother has a deadly disease. Nonverbal signals, ambiance, and context that work together to let him know this is something serious.
* Whatever he does for a living, if you needed advice on that you would go to him for it and not dismiss it, and if he came to your medical practice for a nurse's medical advice he would not dismiss it. Well, you are a nurse and you see something happening with him that when it happens with other people they must address it or their health deteriorates and they die younger than they would have otherwise.
- It's serious enough to show up along side diabetes and other chronic game changer conditions on life insurance applications. That means it is recognized as a risk to living a natural long life if it's not treated. Some brain cells die every night from lack of oxygen and the long term effects can be devastating.
- Like other progressive conditions, if you take control of it early then you can live a long happy life. But like other conditions most people can live with the early symptoms and ignore them until the disease or its side effects begin to wreak havoc in their lives.
* As you know, to record him while he is sleeping is a great idea but wasn't all that useful. I did that for myself using a sleep monitor app on my phone and it only convinced me I didn't have a problem other than minor snoring. Instead record him while he is awake. Show him what happens in the middle of a conversation, while watching TV, etc.
- Don't ambush him with it, get his permission if you can, or at least tell him you are going to do it. Be as respectful as you would be with one of your patients, and more because he is your husband. You know he won't be able to stay awake even if he takes it as a challenge.
- When you show him the video, don't comment too quickly. Let him absorb what's happening, it will shock him more than anything you can say to him. He will wonder if this happens other times that could impact his life and dignity around others. He will think of times he knows it has happened and he dismissed it, and now he sees what others around him saw.
* BTW, how is he feeling in general? What got me to explore this the most was feeling unwell for several months. I knew I was tired all the time. I knew I fell asleep a lot. But I had a lot of stressful things going on in my life with family and work so sleep wasn't a luxury I had much of anyways.
- For a while I could rationalize being tired even though I had a sneaking suspicion that something wasn't right. Eventually I couldn't shrug off how badly I felt and not just about being tired. Everything just felt lousy. My mind was foggy, judgment impaired, forgetful of new things because my mind couldn't transfer knew knowledge into long term memories. Tired all the time, achy.
- I Sought solutions in 5-hour bottles, supplements, vitamins. I could function but I wasn't sharp. It affected my performance at work. I knew something wasn't right, and I didn't like it when my wife brought it up.
- Went to the doctor for a few months and had lots of blood tests, stress tests, and other tests. There was nothing abnormal in any of the pathology but I felt miserable all the time. What I used to think was just getting old and sluggish due to being overweight, I now began to wonder if there was something seriously systemic like a hidden cancer going on. "General malaise" the doc called it. And that is a notable symptom of sleep apnea as you surely know.
- One day my doc and I talked about sleep and I was politely dismissive, but he suggested we could do a sleep study and just rule this out. Quick and easy, nothing to lose, and potentially lots to gain. I told him I didn't like the idea but if it would help me feel better again I would do it.
- Is your husband feeling anything similar to what I describe above that he will talk about with you? How is his performance at work? That is something that defines us as men and it's very delicate. Constant fatigue affects how we think and function. I know my work suffered to some degree. I am happy to realize it's not just because I was getting old and losing my edge. And I am also excited about the prospects of sharpening the saw again with CPAP therapy.
* finally, there is a video I came across on youtube that was interesting from a guy's perspective and done by a guy. You can go to youtube and search on "The straight honest truth about Sleep Apnea and CPAP". It's a regular guy named James talking to other guys about the topic, how he himself was stubborn about it, what sleep apnea does to us, what it does to our families who depend on us, and why we should take it seriously. I think it might speak to him in a way that he might not be able to hear coming from you.
Your husband is a lucky man for you to care so much about him.
Let him read this thread if you want. He can post back here to this awesome community with questions or even just search the forum anonymously as a guest for earlier discussions about questions he has (I did that for a couple of weeks and it was most helpful). Or he can PM me via your account if he wants to discuss privately I will be happy share more of my own experience.