Librarian’s sleep apnea ends “happily ever after”
Once upon a time there was a librarian. A very, very tired librarian. At bedtime, the clock would slowly tick by the hours – one … two … three – before she could drift off to sleep. The next day, she trudged along as if she were walking in a fog.
But this was no fairy tale. This was Kim Hicks’ real-life nightmare, a zombie-like daydream that lasted for years before she made a visit to the Sleep Disorders Center at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, where Medical Director Thomas Higgins, MD, diagnosed her with obstructive sleep apnea.
“Most of the time, I sleep straight through the night now,” said Hicks, director of the Madisonville Public Library. “It’s just amazing! I wake up in the morning before the alarm, feeling like I’m ready to face the day no matter what. It changes everything when you’re not tired anymore.”
The difference was made possible by a new C-PAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine prescribed by Dr. Higgins. The machine helps Hicks breathe more easily during sleep by increasing air pressure in her throat so that her airway doesn’t collapse when she breathes in.
Hicks’ apnea had worsened after an April 2013 launch of a massive project to build a new library.
“The last few years have been really intense – a lot of 70-, 80-hour weeks,” she said. “I was really tired from that. I felt like I was doing myself and my job a disservice by not being at my best. When it started affecting my everyday emotions because I was so tired, that’s when I finally said, ‘I need help.’”
Suspecting obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Higgins ordered a sleep study which found Hicks averaging as many as 62 breathing pauses per hour – more than double the rate considered “severe” – during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. On the second night of her sleep study, she was fitted with a C-PAP and her apnea count plummeted to 4.9. “The C-PAP took the apnea almost completely away, which it often does,” said Dr. Higgins.
Hicks is pleased not only with the results, but with the treatment she received at the Fort Sanders Sleep Disorders Center. “Dr. Higgins has been doing this a long time, and he has a confidence about him. He asks really good questions that get to the heart of what’s going on with you and how you are dealing with it. My husband was right; I should have done this years ago.”
For more information about the Sleep Disorders Center at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, visit www.fsregional.com/sleepdisorder or call (865) 331-1375.