Cured of sleep apnoea 04.04.2019
Patient report sleep apnoea cure by Thomas Weindl
Even in my childhood, I usually breathed through my mouth and slept with my mouth open. I always felt like I was snoring. I could never breathe through my nose for long and constantly, somehow it always felt as if I wasn't getting enough oxygen.
Over the years, I never gave a thought to a genetic defect or even a disease in connection with the existing symptoms, as I was supposedly fit and able to perform. I had long since got used to the fact that my sleep had been restless for a long time and the deterioration was gradual.
After a few parallel stressful events in 2017, things got rapidly worse, my sleep was like a disaster, I went to bed tired and got up even more tired in the morning, my snoring became unbearable for me and my environment, suddenly my performance plummeted, lack of concentration up to nodding off in meetings, microsleep while driving, permanent sleep phases in between (e.g. before football training and again afterwards), etc., were suddenly daily side effects.
Sudden weight gain
After having weighed around 90 kilos for years with a sporty figure, I suddenly gained weight, despite immediate countermeasures such as carbohydrate reduction, 16:8 diet, etc., weight loss was not possible. As usual, I rode my racing bike for about 800 km during my summer holiday in Spain, but this time I gained an insane 3 kg, despite sport and a Mediterranean diet! From then on, my weight fluctuated around 100 kg and finally peaked at 105 kg, including physical discomfort, heartburn, digestive problems, the urge to urinate several times a night and regular migraines. My family doctor placated my weight gain with the words: "Don't get upset, you have an extraordinary amount of body muscle for 50, the next 10 years will probably bring you another 10 KG with your disposition...
A sleep lab was done
A visit to the cardiologist then also revealed sleep apnoea, high blood pressure and a rather high pulse, only he gave the decisive hint: Please make an appointment at the sleep laboratory immediately. A good one, he was to be proved right....
The year 2018 came to an end, I felt terrible. Finally the appointment in the sleep lab, end of November, incidentally my 50th birthday, result: AHI index of 80!!!! 80 lapses per hour with an average of 16 seconds, so I didn't breathe for more than 20 minutes in one hour. Red alert, danger to life! To be honest, that's how I felt too. Announcement from the very corpulent doctor; "You are too fat, sleep apnoea you now have for the rest of your life, there is no way to fix it surgically, from now on you will have to sleep with a CPAP mask and regularly come to see us in the sleep lab. A lot of people have that."
I was shocked and angry at the same time by the clumsy diagnosis without a why, wherefrom or wherefore. For me as a graduate engineer and a person who loves technology, this was unacceptable. Having to sleep lying in bed like a dead pilot without knowing the actual cause was not an option for me, so I drove home and started researching the topic on the internet straight away. After an extensive search and what felt like half a medical degree online, I finally found Drs Sailer in Switzerland and Frey in Heidelberg.
It took less than 10 days from diagnosis to making an appointment with Dr Frey, 10 days of sleeping with the mask on, which was already enough for me, rubber band marks on my face and hair, an inflamed tip of my nose, an unpleasant bloated feeling in the morning, conjunctivitis due to leaks in the mask included. Disaster! I longed for the date of the initial examination in Heidelberg.
Finally, 12 February 2019 in Heidelberg, I am full of expectations..... Professional examinations and a conversation with Dr. Frey lasting over 2 hours, unbelievable, a simple X-ray shows the cause: 2 constrictions in the trachea smaller than 8mm in diameter, plus the detailed explanations of biochemical reactions in the body by Dr. Frey and my decision is made. I immediately make an appointment for a sleep apnoea operation as soon as possible. So far, so good.
One question remained: why was neither my family doctor nor the doctor from the sleep laboratory interested in finding the cause? They advised me not to have the operation, even though they didn't know the surgical method.
Consultation with Dr Frey
However, the conclusive explanations by Dr Frey, my internet research, the patient contacts as well as my mind solidified my decision.
Now I had 7 weeks until the operation, time was running out and off I went to Heidelberg. On 3 April 2019, I first had the fixed brace inserted in Mannheim by Dr Frey, the treatment was great, but even that was a big break at the age of 50!
- April 2019, the big day, the day of the operation, the tight brace was already bugging me and I was hypernervous, finally 3 pm, I got an "is-me-egal-pill" as arranged, then from 4 pm the operation. When I came to in the evening around 8 pm, I felt bad. I was in pain, had difficulty swallowing(dysphagia) and had a swollen face like a medicine ball. It was hell, but I was very well looked after on the ward by the nurses, Dr Frey and the whole team. Despite the hellish jellyfish, I slept without a CPAP mask from the day of surgery with excellent blood oxygen saturation. Already from the 3rd day after the operation I had to change the usual pillow arrangement, from now on I could almost feel how my cervical spine straightened. I was also able to stop taking the blood pressure medication from day 1. Because my windpipe was now normal-sized, I felt I had more air than ever before in my life, but unfortunately I had a sore throat for almost 4 weeks.
On the 3rd day after the operation(sleep apnoea operation video) I went for a walk for the first time, not easy, I looked like a monster, but the people in Heidelberg are probably used to a lot from a medical point of view, at least I had the feeling that my disfigured appearance did not attract much attention. The first 3 days were the worst, but after that it went steadily uphill. However, feeding was difficult over a long period of time. Once you have pureed everything, you will know at some point why babies like to spit it out....without the biting, chewing and tasting experience, it is really just nutrition. Then there's the numbness, and from then on, spitting up was the order of the day for a long time.
After discharge from the SeegartenKlinik
After a week of inpatient treatment in Heidelberg, I went home by car and the back of my head was constantly touching the headrest when there were slight bumps in the road, which was not the case before, a clear indication of the straightening of my cervical spine.
It's been 14 months since the operation, and apart from persistent numbness in my lower lip, chin, teeth and gums, a lot has changed. For decades before the operation I breathed almost exclusively through my mouth, but since the operation I breathe almost exclusively through my nose, even when sleeping. Only during physical exertion do I now have to breathe through my mouth. Since the operation, my blood pressure is within the normal range without blood pressure medication. My sleep is restful and I like to go to sleep again (completely silently J). Without oxygen deprivation, sport is really fun again. Today I feel tired and worn out, but only because I have either worked too hard or done too much sport. All in all, I feel as if someone had given me 10 years. By straightening my cervical spine, my musculoskeletal system has improved enormously, even agonising tension in the shoulder and neck area is a thing of the past. Daytime tiredness, physical discomfort, heartburn, digestive problems, multiple night-time urges to urinate and regular migraines are also a thing of the past.
Despite the exorbitant pain and restrictions after the operation and the long recovery period with another operation to remove the metal, I would have it done again immediately by Dr Frey and his super team. I am really very happy and grateful for the new quality of life I have gained.
The only drawback is the acceptance of private health insurances and thus the assumption of surgery and treatment costs. Personally, I argued with my health insurance for almost 25 weeks, and in the end they settled the claim for 1500 euros. All's well that ends well...
With best regards