Young and restless: My CPAP story

When we say sleep apnea can affect anyone, we mean anyone – of any size, weight or age. That’s why it’s so important to know the symptoms of sleep apnea and ask your doctor about them as soon as you detect them.

Take it from Jonathan Trapse: 5’6”, 130 pounds, and on CPAP since age 20. He’s just as loyal to his CPAP treatment as ever. Jon’s excited to share his story as a reminder to others that sleep apnea can affect any of us – but it doesn’t have to control us.

ResMed: How did you learn you had sleep apnea?

Jonathan Trapse: I always snored growing up but never considered it an issue. In high school, I was always tired – I thought due to my busy schedule with college-level classes, basketball practice, work. I even fell asleep driving once and rear-ended a car at a stop light and blamed it on my exhausting lifestyle. Fortunately, the accident was minor – no serious injuries.

I didn’t learn about obstructive sleep apnea until my sophomore year of college in 2005. After I had my wisdom teeth removed, the surgeon said he had a tough time keeping my oxygen levels up and recommended I get tested. I was diagnosed with severe OSA. I was a young, fit, health-conscious college student with an AHI of 30.7.

When I attended a class to learn about OSA and CPAP treatment, my instructor and classmates were shocked to see me walk in. But despite my age and build, my prescribed air pressure (11 cm H2O) was the second highest in the class! I was actually dismissed from the second half of the class, which focused on diet and exercise tips.

ResMed: How did you feel about needing CPAP?

JT: I was initially embarrassed to need CPAP every night. I looked at several alternatives including removing my tonsils, although the doctor warned that procedure had a high probability of being ineffective for me. I was reluctant to use CPAP but realized the importance of sticking with it as I began educating myself. Hearing that Reggie White, an NFL football player, died due to complications related to OSA really hit home.

ResMed: How’d your first night on CPAP go?

JT: It was rough. I didn’t like something being on my face and I instinctively tried to resist the air pressure. I had a nasal mask too, and it was hard to keep my mouth shut with a chinstrap. Plus, the sound of the machine and tube positioning were very annoying. (Today’s equipment is so much better than a decade ago!)

It took about 3-4 weeks until I started sleeping through the night with CPAP. And once I did, I felt like a completely different person as I noticed a change in my energy and mood. I was excited to attend my lectures and felt better while I exercised and after. I’ve been using CPAP/APAP for over 9 years now and there really isn’t any other thing that I’m more dependent on. If I forget to use my AirSense™ 10, I know I won’t have a good day. In my free time, I compete as an amateur boxer and can definitely feel the impact of CPAP in the ring. My wife also benefits since she doesn’t have to deal with my snoring or my grumpiness.

ResMed: How well aware do you think people are about sleep apnea and the importance of CPAP?

JT: We’ve come a long way in raising awareness although I think there’s still room for improvement. When I was first diagnosed 9 years ago, a lot of people had never heard of OSA.  Nowadays, people often tell me they also know someone who has it. Since my diagnosis, many of my own family and friends have actually been diagnosed and are currently on CPAP. I’m starting to believe my condition is genetic since my dad, brother, aunts and uncles are now diagnosed. We even think my grandfather’s early death at age 58 may have been linked to untreated OSA. There are still plenty of people who suffer from OSA that are either unaware of their condition or don’t understand the benefits of using CPAP.

And if you think “There’s no way I could have sleep apnea,” that’s exactly what I thought too. It’s always better to talk with your doctor and make sure. Catching it has changed – and possibly saved – my life.

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.

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