My True Story Began Like This…
As a kid, I was healthy and active. I played baseball, ran all around my Chicago neighborhood, and rode my bike regularly. But in my junior year of high school, I met a girl and fell in love. She wasn’t the most active person, and most of her meals were deep-fried and fast foods.
I soon adopted her ways of eating, and stopped exercising. In the matter of a year, I went from weighing 170 pounds to over 215.
Long story short, my girlfriend became pregnant and gave birth when I was 17. And when I found out she had been cheating on me the entire time, and that the child I had raised for a year wasn’t mine, my health plummeted. I started to stuff my face not because I was hungry, but because I was sad and pissed off. I was miserable and didn’t value my life anymore.
I smoked a pack of cigarettes and drank a 2 liter of soda every day. I ate fast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, not caring at all about the health consequences. I thought exercise was a joke, and it got to a point where I’d get winded just tying my shoes.
I Became Morbidly Obese and Deathly Ill
At 5 feet and 8 inches, I was rapidly approaching almost 230 pounds. But I didn’t realize that I was slowly killing myself. Weight loss was not even on my radar considering I thought exercise was a joke… During this deep, dark period of my life, honestly all I thought about was eating, feeling depressed, and sleeping (or confused about the inability to sleep)
At this point, I was 18, the year was 1999, and I just graduated high school one year prior. Seemingly out of nowhere, I started repeatedly falling asleep at my desk at work. I even fell asleep while driving the company car.
After a coworker reported the incident, my employer immediately sent me to see a doctor. I was glad — I also wanted to know what the heck was going on. I was sick of having no energy, falling asleep during the day, and never waking up rested.
My Scary Diagnosis
My doctor diagnosed me with high blood pressure and, also suspecting that I had sleep apnea, arranged for an overnight sleep study. The results showed he was right — I had severe obstructive sleep apnea.
If you have sleep apnea, your breath becomes very shallow and you even stop breathing at times. With obstructive sleep apnea, there are repeated episodes of blockage of the upper airway while sleeping. These episodes are hard on your body, and almost always interfere with sound sleep.
It’s a scary disease to have — and I was terrified. In fact, my doctor said that if I didn’t do something immediately about the condition, I could die in my sleep or have a stroke or heart attack.
He gave me two choices: I could either have major surgery, or sleep with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which forces airflow into your lungs at night, preventing breathing cessation. He also told me that either way, I’d benefit if I lost weight and exercised. So what did I do? I chose the lazy way and decided to sleep using a CPAP machine. I continued the same nutritionally void diet and sedentary lifestyle.
It’s quite uncomfortable to sleep with a hideous mask on your face all night. But with the CPAP, I felt rested for the first time in two years and was finally able to stay awake during the day.