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Orville, Jessica, Geoff, Mary Jo, & Leightan's Sleep Apnea & CPAP Therapy Stories

Posted by Richard Spafford on

Credit goes to ResMed for the following stories:


Orville's story

"Remember, sleep plays a vital role in health. If you're struggling getting used to your PAP system, get help from someone who has been there and done that. It can make a tremendous difference!" Orville

Life prior to therapy:

"I didn't realize I had sleep apnea until I collapsed in my living room," says Orville, shaking his head. Fortunately for him, the lab technician at the hospital where he was taken was also a sleep center lab director. After administering the electroencephalogram (EEG) test to measure his brain’s electrical signals and learn about the blackout, he told Orville he might have a sleep disorder and recommended a sleep study.

During the study, Orville had 37 events per hour. He was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and prescribed a bilevel positive airway pressure machine. Orville was relieved that he had a diagnosis, but he struggled getting used to PAP therapy. "Fortunately, I had great support from my friends and family."

Situation today:

Orville's perseverance paid off. He mastered the new and strange feeling of having something on his face at night. He learned how to fit the mask properly, and soon, using PAP became routine. It wasn’t long before he noticed some changes. After being on PAP treatment for several weeks, Orville's ability to concentrate was noticeably better. He had much more energy — so much that he decided to go back to school to get an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy to work with sleep apnea patients.

He's now a regular speaker at sleep apnea support groups. "All aspects of my life were affected positively," he explains. "My relationships, my career and my physical health are all better. All my friends and family have noticed how much more energetic and alert I am."

Hometown: Northern NJ

Symptoms: Snoring, fatigue, fainting

Years on therapy: 9

Mask type: Full face

Hobbies: Radio, volunteer firefighter, model trains


Jessica's story

"I can’t believe how much more energy I have during the day. My blood pressure has normalized. I enjoy playing with my kids so much more now." — Jessica

Life prior to therapy:

Jessica always felt tired during the day. Ten years ago, while attending school to become a sleep technician, she became exposed to the symptoms and risks of sleep apnea. After her training, she decided to get tested and was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea.

Situation today:

Following her adjustment period, Jessica started to feel the benefits of her therapy after a couple of months. She felt more rested and had more energy at work. She stopped waking up and tossing and turning in the middle of the night. Jessica’s dreams are more vivid due to REM sleep. Plus, she lost weight since starting therapy.

Hometown: Jarrell, TX

Symptoms: Snoring, fatigue, high blood pressure during pregnancy

Years on therapy: 3

Mask type: Nasal pillows

Hobbies: Reading, crafting

Geoff’s story


"I have so much more energy when I'm teaching late classes or I'm working out. CPAP has changed my life." Geoff

Life prior to therapy:

Geoff had been snoring for a while, but because his dad snored too, he didn’t think much about it. When his wife Cassie noticed her husband frequently stopped breathing during sleep, she got concerned. The situation became more urgent when he began to choke in his sleep. The doctor sent Geoff for a sleep study, and the test showed Geoff stopped breathing 125 times per hour! In addition, he had a condition called restless leg syndrome, which caused him to move his legs throughout the night.

Situation today:

Because of his innate determination, Geoff forced himself to look past the inconveniences of sleeping with the mask and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, and within a week or two, he was sleeping much better. For Geoff, using CPAP is also a lot easier now because he sees the results of staying committed. “I feel so much more rested when I wake up now,” Geoff says. “I’ve always been a high-energy guy anyway and now I feel like my old self again.”

Hometown: Eugene, OR

Symptoms: Snoring, choking, restless leg syndrome

Years on therapy: 2

Mask type: Nasal pillows

Hobbies: Golf, cross-training, puzzles


Mary Jo’s story

"The first time I used CPAP, I woke up headache-free. Soon, I didn’t have to sleep the minute I came home. It was great." Mary Jo

Life Prior to Therapy

Mary Jo is a mother of two with a challenging career as a school administrator. She thought it was normal to be exhausted every day. As soon as she walked in the door, she had to take a nap. It was when she developed chronic daily migraines that she sought help from a neurologist who ordered a sleep study. Mary Jo was found to be suffering from severe sleep apnea. Her sleep doctor recommended that she begin CPAP therapy right away.

Mary Jo struggled with the recommendation that she needed to use a CPAP machine. She couldn't imagine having to sleep with her husband at the same time she was using her CPAP. It was a colleague at school, because of his father’s own success with CPAP, who convinced her to try using her machine right away.

Situation Today:

The first time she used a CPAP machine at the sleep center, she woke up headache-free. But once she got home it took two weeks to adjust to therapy. During the first week, Mary Jo kept ripping the mask off as soon as she fell asleep. Gradually, she was able to keep the mask on for longer periods of time. Soon, Mary Jo was headache-free and found she didn't need to sleep the minute she came home.

Today Mary Jo has more energy for life than she has ever had. In addition to her family and career, she now has time for riding a bicycle. When Mary Jo travels to visit family, she always takes her CPAP with her. She says traveling by car or airplane has become so much easier for those who need to take their CPAP with them. Mary Jo believes that if she never received support from her colleague, she might not have committed to CPAP therapy. It's in this spirit that she believes it is important to support others with their therapy.

Hometown: Wallingford, PA

Symptoms: Fatigue, chronic daily migraines

Years on Therapy: 2

Mask Type: Nasal Pillows

Hobbies: Cycling, travel, visiting family


Leightan’s story


"CPAP therapy has changed my life. I now get a good night's sleep and I always have my machine with me wherever I go." — Leightan

Life prior to therapy:

About seven years ago Leightan would wake up almost every morning with a headache. The headache would disappear over the course of the morning and it wasn’t severe. He would have trouble staying awake during the day, but he was very busy at work so he just put both things down to quite a bit of stress and insomnia from the stress. It never occurred to him that he had sleep apnea. At that point he didn’t even know what sleep apnea was.

His wife works in the local hospital and one day at work one of her workmates asked her if something was wrong, she looked really terrible. His wife told them she was having trouble sleeping, that her husband would stop breathing and she would wait for him to start again. Then just as she was about to doze off he would stop breathing again. This went on all night and when the alarm went off in the morning she hadn’t had a wink of sleep.

Her work mate told her Leightan had sleep apnea and to send him to the doctor for a test. The test came back with a diagnosis of ‘acute to severe apnea’ and he was referred to a sleep specialist.

Situation today:

They met with a sleep therapist who explained what was happening and what the options were. She showed him a couple of machines and he tried on several masks and was sent on his way home with his new best friend, a Resmed S8 autoset with a nasal mask.

He had trouble in the beginning keeping his mouth closed, but the sleep therapist gave him some suggestions which he tried and he hasn’t looked back since.

Leightan gets a rested sleep now and he doesn’t leave home without his machine when traveling; even for one night. He recently bought a new machine, a Resmed S9 autoset, that is a step up from his Resmed S8 and he is loving it.

Hometown: Port Hardy, BC

Symptoms: headaches, fatigue

Years on therapy: 7

Mask type: full face

Hobbies: Reading, computers and traveling

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