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Tim's struggle with sleeping apnea: When sleeping leaves you sleepy

February 06, 2015

An unexpected diagnosis

Tim Grimes is not the typical patient for obstructive sleep apnea. Many sleep apnea cases are diagnosed in overweight patients, but when Tim’s 160-pound frame wasn’t to blame, he sought specialized care for his unique case.

After his diagnosis, Tim struggled to use his CPAP, a machine that regulates breathing during sleep. After undergoing a throat surgery that only made his condition worse, Tim was still exhausted. It seemed as though he had run out of treatment options. He didn’t experience a successful, individualized treatment plan until he went to Kettering Health Network Sleep Centers.

“My job is to find solutions to problems, and I was looking for someone to do the same for me,” says Tim, a lawyer working as a vice president of business development. Michael Valle, DO, and his team “truly care,” says Tim. “They took the time and made me feel like an individual.”

Sleeping easier

After receiving a personalized treatment plan, Tim can now use his CPAP. Tim went from feeling exhausted by lunchtime to being able to landscape his new house after work and on weekends. Before being treated by Dr. Valle, Tim woke up 30 to 40 times an hour each night, putting him in a mental fog without the energy to think critically at work.

His family life also suffered. Anytime he was home, all he wanted to do was sit on the couch or lie down in bed, putting an end to the outdoor activities he enjoyed with his wife and two daughters. “A lot of people don’t think it’s a debilitating problem, but it was in the sense that I wasn’t really living my life to the fullest,” Tim says.

Tim advises people to take their symptoms seriously. After a friend of his passed away in his sleep, Tim felt compelled to have his sleep disorder checked out by a doctor. Sleep apnea increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke—health conditions that run in Tim’s family.

Tim shares his story with others, hoping they too can find a solution to their sleeping problems. When he hears someone joke about a snoring spouse or complain about constant fatigue, Tim takes that opportunity to tell them about his experience with Dr. Valle, especially the personal care and connection.

“To me, that’s what it’s all about,” says Tim. “Having that connection, that relationship with the physician where you feel like you can tell them what you need to tell them, and they’re going to listen and give back.”

Signs of Sleep Apnea

Anyone can have sleep apnea. Here are the most common signs:

  • Snoring
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Awakening choking or gasping
  • Dry throat when you wake up
  • Morning headaches
  • Daytime sleepiness