I just read the letter from "Dead Tired in Shreveport," whose husband snores. I, too, am a snorer. My wife finally moved into the spare bedroom so she could get some rest.
The first sign of sleep apnea is heavy snoring with periods of not breathing. I would occasionally stop breathing for up to 50 seconds. My wife would lie awake at night ready to "kick-start" me, which explains why she was always exhausted. I was exhausted, too. I never went into deep REM sleep, and would wake up at least a dozen times every night, even though I did not remember it. I was never rested enough, and often found myself nodding off at the wheel of my car.
I finally discussed the problem with my doctor, who referred me to a sleep clinic. I was placed on a machine that provides me with continuous air pressure while sleeping, and as a result, I have been snoozing soundly every night for over two years. I no longer snore, and the best part is my wife has moved back into our bedroom.
I believe most men fear that if they seek medical attention, the doctor will discover something seriously wrong. Sleep apnea can be dangerous, but the cure is simple. Radical surgery is rarely required. I only had to spend one night at the sleep clinic, and it was like being in a motel.
Sleep apnea is not a disease, it is a condition that is easily treated, and the treatment can provide the sufferer with a truly good night's sleep--and give the spouse some rest and reassurance as well.
Enjoying Sweet Dreams
Thank you on behalf of all the sleep-deprived readers you helped today. And thanks, too, for pointing out that snoring can indicate serious trouble, and should be investigated.
A year ago, you printed a column listing the symptoms of ovarian cancer. After reading it, I made an appointment to see my gynecologist. I had a biopsy, and was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer. For the past several months, I have been undergoing chemotherapy and have had a second surgery. My outlook is positive, and my family has been very supportive. Whenever I am asked how I knew something was wrong, I always say it was your column that did it.
I am a lucky woman to have seen that information when I did. Please, Ann, print those symptoms again for all the women who may have missed it.
Maria in N.C.
Thank you for asking. According to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, a national education and advocacy organization, ovarian cancers occur in one out of 55 women at any age. Most women are diagnosed when the chance for survival for five years is about 20 percent. Early detection improves survival rates. Symptoms are subtle at first, but become more persistent and identifiable over time.
Any woman who experiences the following symptoms for more than two or three weeks should see her doctor and ask for a combination pelvic/rectal exam, a CA-125 blood test and a transvaginal sonogram:
Bloating, a feeling of fullness or gas.
Frequent or urgent urination.
Nausea, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea.
Menstrual disorders or pain during intercourse.
Fatigue or backaches.
For more information, contact the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, P.O. Box 33107, Washington, D.C., 20033 (www.ovariancancer.org), or assess your risk at the Women's Cancer Network Web site (www.wcn.org). For a free brochure, call the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition at 1-888-OVARIAN (1-888-682-7426) or visit their Web site at www.ovarian.org.
To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.