Saturday, December 29, 2012

Physician Heal Thyself

Let's face it, as physicians, we make the worst patients! I don't have high blood pressure! Eh, I'll go on a statin next year. My blood sugar isn't that high! Let me put off my colonoscopy until next year. And I'm not any better! For years I was struggling with fatigue. I blamed it on everything else outside of me—my job is too stressful, I have to wake up too early, I was on call, etc. And for years, my wife kept urging me to get a sleep test. There's no way I have sleep apnea, I reasoned to myself, I'm not overweight, I exercise daily, and I don't snore (at least not that badly). Finally, when I could take the fatigue no longer, I acquiesced and got my sleep test done. After the test was over, I felt stupid! There's no way I have sleep apnea! What a complete waste of time! There goes a hugh deductible thrown out the window. The next day, the result came back: I stopped breathing over 80 times that night!


Yet, in a way, I was totally relieved! There was a possible cure for my fatigue. The first night I started using the CPAP machine, my brain started making up for years of lost sleep!—I had a crazy and vivid dream about standing on an cliff beside a frothing ocean teaming with sharks. It was so cool! That's when I realized that this was my first dream in years! YEARS!

Now I'll admit it... Using a CPAP machine is not the world's sexiest thing. But, since I am a Star Wars fan, there is something really cool about looking like a Kotobukiya Star Wars TIE Fighter Pilot! And beside, my kids dig it (and I like to chase them around the house with my mask on).

Of course, I'm just exaggerating—the mask and machine are much smaller than I anticipated! Frankly I was shocked by how far technology has come. And the CPAP machine is no bigger than a "breadbox" (whatever the hula hoop that is). It's a cinch to take on vacations.

So the take-home-message for me is this: Physician heal thyself! Before I can heal others, I need to work on healing myself first. 

So good night and pleasant dreams! Oooooooooo... SHARKS!!!!  


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