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For those who do not know, I am a family physician with a Masters Public Health with a special interest in health disparities and health education. I work in a large urban public health clinic for the uninsured. The number one reason our middle aged patients lost their jobs and their insurance is they had a sleep disorder that they and their doctors did not recognize and the complications of this untreated sleep apnea got them fired or made them quit work. I know, because this happened to me. I  retired from medical practice, because I and my doctors did not know that I had OSA. After being diagnosed three years later, I discovered that treating sleep apnea is not always easy. It took me years of trying different therapies to finally come up with one that worked well for me. Now, I am awake again. Now, I am back at work.

People absorb health information best if they think that it applies to them. That is why I decided to write a first person narrative about my experiences. I suspect that a lot of people will recognize themselves in me. Maybe, if they read about what I went through, they can avoid making the wrong turns that lead to so many dead ends. Maybe they can get treated and back to work faster than I did.

If you are middle aged and you can no longer function due to your fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, depression that will not respond to medication, poor memory, adult onset "ADD", sky high blood pressure, mini strokes and angina that wake you up at night, congestive heart failure with a normal echocardiogram (i.e. a normal heart) see a doctor. But also ask your loved ones "Do  I snore? Do I stop breathing at night? Do I kick my legs all night?" If the answer to any of these is "yes", go see your doctor. Ask about the possibility of a sleep disorder. Do not wait for your doctor to bring up the topic. Around 8% of Americans over 40 have a sleep disorder. Only 2 out of ten have been diagnosed. Your doctor is likely to miss your sleep disorder---unless you are a morbidly obese man who falls asleep in the exam room chair while waiting for the doctor. Why? Because your doctor never sees you snore or stop breathing at night. And you never see yourself snore or stop breathing at night. Because you are asleep. Or trying to sleep.

The E-book is available free at Amazon Kindle for five days (look up McCamy Taylor). If you do not have a Kindle or you are broke because you can not work because your OSA has not been diagnosed/treated, send me an email at McCamyTaylor@earthlink.net, and I will send you a word document with the whole text in it. I am not trying to make money off this. I am trying to raise public awareness of the most commonly missed common diagnosis in the U.S. One that makes our roads unsafe---untreated OSA causes hundreds of thousands of MVAs a year and an untreated speep apnea sufferer drives like a drunk driver. A condition that takes people out of the work force in their 40s and 50s when they are at their peak, depriving the nation of their skill, increasing the number of people on disability, stigmatizing every middle aged American, even those without a sleep disorder, because employers notice that a large number of their middle aged employees seem to get "sick" for no good reason. One that is a huge drain on our health care resources, because, until that OSA gets diagnosed and treated, people with sleep apnea are in and out of doctors' offices and the ER, getting treated for all the complications---depression, heart attack, stroke, pain, forgetfulness, ED, elevated blood pressure, migraines---without ever getting to the real problem. People with undiagnosed sleep apnea spend thousands of dollars more each year on health care than they do once their OSA is diagnosed and treated. Multiply those thousands times the number of people in the U.S over 40 and then by 4-6%--the number of people with undiagnosed OSA--and you have a whole lot of money being wasted.

Until America wakes up to the sleep apnea epidemic, people with OSA will not wake up.

Originally posted to McCamy Taylor on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 12:02 PM PST.

Also republished by KosAbility.

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