First, this post is not a plea for sympathy. It is being written to demonstrate how this senior of 73 years, has joined forces with the technology of today to battle the challenges that have entered her life. I was going to get this proofread as I am concerned about my grammar etc. but decided to bite the bullet and publish it as is.
At the end of 2013 I had a strange experience. I walked out the door of my son’s house after an early Christmas celebration. Next…I am in the car. There were a good number of cars in the driveway and it was not just a walk of a few feet. I learned later that I had experienced a pontine lacunar infart. It can also be called a ‘silent stroke.’ I do not have any outward paralysis that a stroke commonly brings to the individual.
Not really sure if it had happened at that specific moment or not, but to me it seems likely. For several years all went along smoothly other than becoming extremely exhausted, for no real reason. I have had sleep apnea for many years and have been most faithful in my use of the equipment, but still…my sleep was totally non restorative.
In 2014 I had a sleep study that noted Centrals. According to the Mayo Clinic…
Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. This condition is different from obstructive sleep apnea, in which you can’t breathe normally because of upper airway obstruction. Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea.
Sad part is that my sleep doctor who gave me the diagnosis did not address this new development in my sleep. What he did do, was to write a script when I asked for one so I could purchase a BIPAP machine. It was this machine that pointed out the extent centrals played in my sleep. I mentioned this to my Respiratory Therapist, Kim Hart, and she knew exactly which machine I needed to fight back. She called her boss and they located a Phillips Respironics 960 ASV in their back room…with my name on it. Luckily I was able to purchase it outright. Undoing the damage from untreated centrals is not an overnight happening. My new sleep doctor believes the centrals are the result of my silent stroke.
The year 2016 was basically a lost year in my life. I existed, functioned the best I could. I also researched centrals and explored the new technology out there. It is amazing! Then 2017 decided to add a very strong new development to my life. My balance is eroding, my short-term memory basically flew out the window!!!! Then my speech started to be affected in that occasionally I cannot say a word correctly, or I use a word that sounds similar, but is totally wrong in meaning. Also, my ability to concentrate is greatly diminished. What is weird is that all these things are not with me 24/7. It is as if they come in waves.
OK, I am a big fan of APPLE…been one all my life. I love the apps out there, love my iPhone and the many uses it has. Before my concentration lessened, I was going all out doing digital drawing. I bought an iPad Pro along with Apple’s Pencil. What a super combination. The apps available are numerous. Just wish my concentration would stay in place. I do better with drawing when I use colored pencils right now.
Then I saw the games that were created for brain training. Lumosity has been out quite a while. Then I discovered Left vs Right. It is similar and for some reason I am drawn to it more than Lumosity. Another app I used briefly in the past was Brain HQ. I have to say though, I panic whenever they put a game with numbers in front of me. I call myself numerically challenged. My brain freezes whenever it is faced with numbers of any kind. It was my difficulty with studying history, cooking…the list goes on and on!
I went one step further in my relationship with Apple and purchased an Apple Watch. Post-it notes help only so much when you are trying to remember appointments, taking medications etc.. Yes, I have to put it in on my iPhone, but my phone is not always with me. No more couch potato option as this watch tells me to “get up” when I have been sitting too long. I could ignore it, but that is not why I purchased it. For me, the Apple Watch is my tool of choice for fighting back against the unwanted changes that are intruding into my life.
All appointments, reminders for taking meds are put into ‘Reminders.’ I choose the watch face that puts my calendar data on the bottom as well as the day and date. The latter two slip my mind on a regular basis. Those activity circles remind me of the stars I gave my kids when they completed a task. Funny, I am the one now that needs to see that visual of my progress.
Then there is AliveCor. I know about the link between sleep apnea and stroke. It is always there in the back of my mind. I have the earlier version of their iPhone heart ECG monitor. I hope it was just a fluke, but an A-Fib reading occurred recently, otherwise I am normal through and through. Just recently I was able to share this with someone who has a heart condition and through her iPhone, the Kardia Mobile is now able to follow her heart rhythms.
My game plan is to use my Apple Watch, my iPhone, iPad in all the ways possible to try to stimulate my brain, to encourage new pathways for those blood vessels in my brain stem, so they regenerate and get stronger. Oh, I am doing stuff the old-fashioned way too. My daily walk, taking photographs of the wonders of nature, restarting my wood carving. I set up my vise out under the palm trees in my back yard. The one thing I have not been good at is practicing my scales on that electric keyboard along with the metronome. Technology is good, but so is music when it comes to mental stimulation.
Hopefully, my game plan will help me find more balance, both physically and mentally, looking forward with a positive attitude…knowing I have done what I could, with the tools available to me. It is a challenge, but fascinating. That may seem a contradiction, but years ago I would never have discovered my problems, nor had the many options to solve them, The world of sleep apnea is basically a new field with more becoming known daily. No, I was not depressed!!!!! Depression was the label given me years ago. The knowledge of how we can strengthen our mental functioning is also a new field.
The world is not always the way it seems…as seen in the photo below