News

September 2, 2012

Shoals Hospital to offer ‘PAP Naps’ for new C-PAP patients

Originally published in the Times Daily.

For years, Ann Ware went to bed exhausted and woke up with the same feeling.

Each night she thought, “I’m so tired I know I’ll sleep tonight.” But she didn’t.

She woke up and walked back and forth between a recliner and the bed hoping she’d fall back asleep.

Ware said she typically logged just two hours of sleep each night.

But that’s not the case anymore thanks to her “pig nose.”

That is what Ware calls the mask she uses with her C-PAP — continuous positive airway pressure machine — that ensures she breaths properly during the night.

A C-PAP machine is used to treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea, which causes the person to stop breathing or experience low breathing while sleeping.

Ware was having as many as 137 of those episodes every night, meaning even her sleep wasn’t restful.

The restlessness and exhaustion even after sleep are tell-tale signs of sleep apnea, but that wasn’t what sent Ware to the sleep study wing of Shoals Hospital.

Ware was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, blood pressure in the pulmonary artery, pulmonary vein, or pulmonary capillaries.

Her treatment options added another medicine to her daily routine, something she did not want. Her doctor mentioned sleep apnea was sometimes associated with pulmonary hypertension and a sleep study could help.

Ware gladly signed up, and after the sleep study diagnosed her with sleep apnea, she was just as motivated to use the C-PAP machine.

“I’m a different person now,” she said. “I’ve got my life back.

She can sew without falling asleep at the sewing machine and line dance to her heart’s content because now she is sleeping deeply and waking up with energy to take on the day, she said.

And her doctor said there is no sign of the pulmonary hypertension.

Not all patients have the immediate success Ware experienced.

Many have a difficult time adjusting to sleeping in a mask with a hose attachment.

For that reason, Shoals Hospital will soon begin a service they call PAP Nap, short daytime stays in the hospital’s sleep lab so practitioners can help newly diagnosed patients get acclimated to the treatment devices.

Phyllis Greene, director of Shoals Sleep Center, said the Pap Nap gives the patient a one-on-one session with a sleep professional to offer advice and help on utilizing C-Pap equipment.

Greene said many people have trouble adjusting to sleeping with masks and hoses and therefore don’t get the maximum benefit.

That was the case for Ware’s husband, Mark, who was diagnosed with sleep apnea after his wife.

“He tried so many things,” Ware said. “Now he hangs his hose from the headboard. He says that works better.”

Greene said Pap Naps are best suited for patients in the first 90 days of using the machines. The service will begin Sept. 4. Naps are scheduled in the early afternoon and take two to four hours.

“This is simply a service we want to offer them to make sure they are getting optimal results,” she said. “For insurance companies to pay (for supplies), patients have to meet compliance standards, and this will help them with that.”

Complaints are common. As are mistakes.

Dr. Larry Carmichael, director of the Northwest Alabama Sleep Disorder Center at Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield, said it is easy to understand why some patients struggle to adjust.

“I liken it to a fly landing on their nose,” Carmichael said. “We are asking someone to tolerate something in their sleep that they have never experienced before.”

But for those who do learn to tolerate the treatment, the turnaround is phenomenal, he said.

“It is a life-changing experience to suffer from sleep apnea and then be treated successfully,” Carmichael said.

People who think they may have sleep apnea should talk to their primary care physician or contact a sleep center for referral information.

“The population now knows more about sleep apnea and are beginning to know what to look for,” Carmichael said. “In the last year or so, it has become more en vogue … which is leading to more people seeking treatment. I only see this growing in popularity as people see how much better they feel after treatment.”