Pedro Antero Martins, 56, civil engineer, suffers from sleep apnoea for several decades, but the disease has only been diagnosed late. The CPAP has made him stop snoring, he started to sleep seven hours a night and never had a headache again. There are a few improvements he would suggest: the device should be quieter and have an internal battery for power failures.
For how long have you had sleep apnoea? Did it take long to know the diagnosis?
My parents say that when I was only a few months old, they would lay me on my back, but curiously I would turn to the prone position, because it was the only way I could sleep. It was to prevent the tongue from falling backwards and obstructing breathing. It was not until I was 35 that I became aware of the condition, although I would sleep many hours, between eight and ten.
Before the diagnosis, did you feel that your sleep was not restoring? Did you have insomnia?
From the age of 35 I got fat and my snoring increased. Sleep was not restoring and I fell asleep during the day. I woke up several times during the night. Every week I would have migraines that lasted two days. I never had insomnia.
How did it affect your daily life?
I would have headaches, daily fatigue, as well as a kind of numbness when starting tasks. I would also feel irritability, although moderate.
What were the benefits brought by the diagnosis and therapeutic intervention?
My wife took me to a sleep consultation, where I was diagnosed tongue base obstruction, counting 158 apnoeas per night, some of which lasted one minute. I have been sleeping with auto-CPAP for fifteen years now and my snoring ended. I never had a headache again and I started to sleep seven hours a night and not feel sleepy during the day. Something unusual started to happen, though: I wake up in the morning feeling all my muscles somewhat tense.
Were you aware of the danger you faced before the diagnosis?
I certainly was, it was life-threatening. I know my life depends on the CPAP.
Did you easily adapt to the mechanical device? Do you consider it to be effective?
I adapted immediately, pleased with the feeling of my breath flowing into the lungs. I would say its effectiveness is equal to… life.
Does the device intrude in your family life?
My wife had a hard time adapting to the CPAP’s noise. Today, fifteen years later, she still complains.
Are there cases of sleep apnoea or other sleep disorders in your family?
No, I have ascertained.
From the patient’s viewpoint, what remains to be done or to be invented in order to further improve his/her quality of life?
I would say that CPAPs need to be quieter and to have a small internal battery that can withstand an electricity failure for two or three hours and be recharged. I think that this condition should be considered by the public authorities as causing a certain degree of disability, for it really reduces life expectancy.