So my original idea for NaNoWriMo didn’t pan out so well. I wrote about 5k words on it before I found the going getting too hard without more research. I decided to shelve that idea and last Sunday night just sat at my computer and began free writing on a completely unrelated story.
This one is progressing much more smoothly.
I am still counting what I wrote on A Weary Land towards my total at this stage, so I am about 27% done, although a bit behind the target for where I should be by this time in the month.
There have been issues with the wordcounting tool on the new Nano site and it is not reporting totals correctly which is a little bit annoying, but I am able to keep an accutate tally using the tool I used in my previous post.
The new story is titled Adnachiel and deals with the premise that an angel comes to earth to enlist the aid of a human PI to solve a mystery in Heaven.
It’s somewhat farcical and reminds me a bit of Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, although it is not fanfiction. The storyline is quite different from Good Omens.
I decided to take part in NanowriMo this year and made a good start for the first day. I really found that joining up with my Local area group and participating in sprints helped. 3 sprints and I had written my days target!
For some time now, I have been working to establish a regular habit of meditation. I’ve tried various apps over this period. Some I have liked, others, not so much, but in the last week, I settled on the one app which I found offered the best value.
I’ve been using Insight Timer as a free app for about 6 months and was always impressed with how much of the content you can access without paying. Most of the meditations are free, and you can choose the length of time you want to meditate.
There’s plenty of guided meditations, but you can also just use the timer, with bells to let you know when to start and end your session, and also to chime at intervals so you know how long you’ve been meditating for. Personally, I find the interval chimes distracting, but some people like to keep track.
A couple of days ago, I decided that I would pay for the yearly subscription, mainly because Insight Timer is offering a 50% discount on the IOS version. The beauty of this being that the app is nicely cross platform and if you log in on an android device with the same email address, it will still be a paid subscription.
Subscribing opens up access to courses, talks, and the daily insight meditations and I felt that for 50% off, it was really great value.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Check out Insight Timer for yourself.
I recently received a Fitbit Inspire for my birthday. This was a gift I requested from family because I switched from using an iPhone to an Android device last year and subsequently my Apple Watch became an overpriced timepiece. I find it annoying that the Apple Watch, an expensive investment in itself is incapable of operating without being paired to the iPhone, but that’s an unrelated matter.
The Fitbit can track many different health measures, which is something I enjoy doing, especially since embarking on my recent path to better health. One of the measures the device can track is sleep. I am diagnosed with Moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and have had an interest in tracking my sleep for some time, so I was happy to set up the Fitbit to do that.
I’m not sure as yet, whether the FitBit is tracking my sleep accurately. I need to use it for a while and perhaps compare it with other apps I have for sleep tracking. I know that it is more sensitive to my movements because I’m wearing it, which accounts for the higher levels of restlessness reported by the app. I also feel that I need to adjust my bedtime in order to get 7-7.5 hours since my cat is waking me up earlier in the morning now that the sun rises earlier.
Going by what I have recorded so far, my sleep patterns have been a little erratic, which may explain why I have had less energy for exercise and have felt irritable. It could also contribute to the stall in weight loss, and the slight gain I have experienced, as poor sleep raises blood cortisol levels and contributes to higher blood glucose.
I know that this is all a part of the learning curve for my new routines and I will adapt better as time goes on. It’s fascinating, learning how complex the body is and how seemingly unrelated things can affect health outcomes.
I had a birthday last Friday. I turned 56. As with most birthdays, this day came complete with all the usual trappings of cake, and big meals and carbohydrates and you know what? I dived right in and ate them, because as much as I want to live healthy and eat well, I also understand the importance of these celebratory rituals. I don’t get precious about sticking to my eating program in the face of my friends and family wanting to celebrate a holiday, or a birthday. That’s a part of being balanced, too.
I had the most amazing Pork Belly served with mashed potatoes. I drank a light beer, and I ate a slice of delicious vanilla cream sponge-cake with pink frosting…and sprinkles!
And I enjoyed every bite and sip!
The days following my birthday were interesting though, in that I suddenly found myself back in some of my old patterns of anxiety, stress, irritability and inflammation.
It’s no secret that there is a connection between sugar and all of those things. Studies have shown, many connections between sugar and less than desirable health outcomes. Now I have my very own cohort of one study that proves it for me personally.
I’ll still join in on the celebrations, and have the cake, but I will be mindful that I am going to suffer for it later. In between celebrations though, I’ll be sticking to my no sugar, no sweeteners restricted grains lifestyle as best I can.
One of the many conditions that I have been diagnosed with over the years, is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). This was first officially diagnosed in September 2016, although I suspect I had been affected by this condition for a lot longer. My partner used to complain that I was keeping her awake at night with my snoring, which at the time, was getting so bad that we took to sleeping in separate rooms. That is not something I recommend for lasting relationships, by the by. It was less than three months after we started doing that, when our relationship broke down completely, in 2012. I moved out and lived alone for a year.
I forgot about my snoring, because there was no one to complain about it anymore, and besides, I was too busy stuffing my feelings down my throat with chocolate and fast food to care.
It wasn’t until a friend asked me to move in and share her home in 2013, that the snoring was mentioned again. My housemate mentioned once or twice, that she could hear me from her room along the hallway. Although it didn’t disturb her sleep, she said she could hear me snoring if she was up during the night, or if she rose before me in the morning. Because it wasn’t creating problems, I was able to ignore it. Until I wasn’t.
The catalyst came one night when my housemate was away on vacation. I had been out for dinner with my daughter and came home late, exhausted (my default state in those days) and fell into bed. A couple of hours later, I woke up choking. My heart was pounding, my head spinning as I struggled to get a breath.
When I finally caught my breath I decided to get up. I didn’t sleep much more that night and had trouble falling into a deep sleep for a few nights after. When my housemate got back from her vacation, I described what had happened.
“I think you should see your doctor,” she said. “Maybe you need to have a sleep study.”
I agreed. If nothing else, I needed something to help me sleep.
I went to the doctor and explained that I was tired all the time, beyond the ‘usual’ fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. I also told him that my previous partner and my housemate had both mentioned that I snore loudly. Then I told him about my choking incident, watching as he frowned in concern.
He reached for a referral pad. “I’m going to order you sleep study,” he said. “They usually have a bit of a waiting list, but I will suggest they expedite it.”
He filled out the referral as he spoke and handed it to me. “The sleep clinic is just around the corner. Take this to them today.”
I was getting worried. I did as my doctor suggested and was surprised when the nurse at the sleep clinic booked me in for the following week.
The night of the sleep study, I felt as though I didn’t sleep at all. Being hooked up to so many wires and cables was daunting, the bed was unfamiliar and I had forgotten to bring my own pillow with me, even though that was permitted.
The next morning, the nurse said she was not sure there was enough data to make a diagnosis and I may need to come back for another test.
Fortunately, although I had only slept for a total of 2.5 hours, there was enough data and the results were scary to say the least.
Within the brief time that I slept, I had over fifty episodes of sleep apnoea, one of which lasted longer than a minute. Any wonder I was tired! Any wonder I was waking up choking for breath. (I was to discover later on that the choking was more to do with gastric reflux, than with apnoea, but that’s another post).
The sleep specialist strongly recommended that I commence CPAP therapy without delay.
That was three years ago. Around that time, I downloaded an app called SnoreLab by Reviva Softworks Ltd This app for iPhone and Android is dsigned to detect and record snoring when you place the phone by your bed overnight. I had run it a couple of times before I had my sleep study, just to get an idea for myself how bad my snoring was. The results are shown in the image at right. In one test, I used an anti snoring pillow and didn’t drink any caffeinated drinks before bed. My snore score was 60 with over 2 hours of the eight that I slept being broken by snoring in the loud-epic range.
In second test, I tried using allergy relief and drank a cup of coffee not long before retiring. I slept 7.5 hours and snored loud-epically for over 6 hours, scoring 183 on that test!
Both tests were pretty bad. But the one where I drank coffee in the evening was the most severe. I decided then and there not to have coffee or black tea after dinner anymore.
I don’t have any images of my snore rating when I use the CPAP, because basically they are boring by comparison. Suffice to say the CPAP machine does what it is designed to do. Despite the good results, my nights were now interrupted by ‘rain out’ which occurs in cold weather when the humidified air running through the tubing condenses and drips out onto your face when the atmosphere is colder than the air temp inside the tubing. Often, I was woken by tubing getting tangled around my arms, or woke up choking when I removed the mask in my sleep and had episodes of apnoea.
I was sleeping more, and snoring less, but the relationship has never been happy.
Fast forward to now.
I’ve lost at least 10kg since getting the OSA diagnosis. In the past three months, I’ve cut sugar and carbs from my diet, I fast intermittently and have fewer allergies, less reflux and the rolls of fat under my chin are melting away.
Over the past three weeks or so, I’ve been waking with pain in my lower abdomen, caused by gas. This is a common problem for CPAP users and is caused by Aerophagia (swallowing air) when CPAP pressure is too high. This is very uncomfortable and makes me less inclined to use the machine at night.
I have slept without CPAP for a few nights now, because the pain was becoming chronic and extremely unpleasant. I will need to see my doctor to have another sleep study done and discuss adjusting my machine’s pressure (or my dream come true, to get rid of THE MACHINE altogether).
Out of curiosity, I ran another SnoreLab session last night. I had hoped for good results, but what I got is stunning. I’m going to run it again tonight just to be sure that this wasn’t a glitch, but here is last night’s recording.
I slept almost 5.5 hours and in that time I snored for just 7 minutes. Not quite as good as when I use the CPAP but compared to September 2016, these results are nothing short of miraculous! In fact, I didn’t even snore for 7 minutes. The app picked up a lot of extraneous noise. When I played the audio back, there was only about 2 minutes of actual snoring and that two minutes included one short episode of OSA. The ideal for CPAP therapy is fewer than five episodes per night.
I’m looking forward to showing these results to my doctor! It should be an interesting discussion.
This above all: To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. ~ William Shakespeare ~
The above quote has resonated with me ever since the first time I saw Hamlet when I was about ten years old. Back then, I had no idea of who I was, and that has remained the status quo for much of my life. I’ve always tried to be what I thought everyone else expected me to be.
Of course, that hasn’t worked out too well. It becomes a game of constantly reinventing oneself. You have to remember who you are when you are with so and so, and who you are when you’re not, and when you’re alone, you’re just tired.
I think I identify as…tired.
Hannah Gadsby ~ Nanette
When Comedienne Hannah Gadsby revealed that little nugget of her truth in her Netflix special, I practically burst into tears. It is a beautiful thing about comedy that the very thing that makes it funny, ie truth is the very thing that gives some comedy the ability to smack you in the ear and make you sit up and take notice.
That entire special did exactly that.
It was one more piece in this puzzle that is my journey.
This blog has undergone some changes recently. A change of theme, a change of name, a change of direction in some ways. All of it reflecting the same changes taking place in the life of its author — me.