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Sleep Better: Fixing Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 2:24 PM

Laura Evenson lived in a chronic state of exhaustion. Deprived of good, quality sleep each night, it was impossible for her to function without relying on caffeine to get through the day.

The 48-year-old small business owner from Antioch credits her children for prompting her to finally seek medical help. They heard their mom gasping for air and making choking sounds during the night, worried she may have stopped breathing.

Laura Evenson Sleep Apnea

Turning Point
“It was very scary for my children,” recalled Evenson. “I had no awareness this was happening every night.”

After sharing these debilitating sleep issues with her primary care physician, Evenson acted quickly on a referral to a sleep medicine expert. NorthShore Neurologist Camelia Musleh, MD, suspected Evenson might be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and recommended she undergo a home sleep study.

“I was relieved I didn’t have to go somewhere else for the study, and it was actually very easy,” said Evenson, who was set up with home monitoring equipment to record her breathing and blood oxygen levels throughout the night. After thoroughly evaluating Evenson’s test results, Dr. Musleh confirmed the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea and recommended Evenson use a CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device while she slept.

“After the first night with the CPAP I thought ‘this was the best night of sleep in my entire life,” noted Evenson. “The difference was amazing, and now I find that I don’t even need coffee!”

A Welcome Awakening
With her sleep apnea under control, Dr. Musleh also treated Evenson for restless leg syndrome, a condition that causes uncontrollable urges to move one’s legs, which can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep. “I would toss and turn, and it would drive me crazy,” said Evenson, who is grateful that Dr. Musleh found the right medication to eliminate the sensation—making it much easier for her to fall asleep.

“Dr. Musleh is great, she really knows her specialty. Both she and her nurses are so responsive, answering my questions on NorthShoreConnect right away,” said Evenson. “I even recommended Dr. Musleh to one of my friends who’s having sleep issues.”

With good quality sleep back in her life, Evenson started addressing other health issues, from developing better eating habits to losing weight. “All of this brought to light that I wasn’t taking as good care of myself as I should have been. It made me stop and think and realize that my family needs me to do better, so I am.”

Dr. Musleh has seen similar positive health patterns develop with her other patients, too.

“Feeling sleepy and fatigued during the day can impact our making the right choices, and it becomes a vicious cycle,” explained Dr. Musleh, who holds an academic title at the Pritzker School of Medicine. “I tell my patients, let’s get you feeling better first and the weight loss can come after. It’s wonderful to see Laura doing so well.”

Working with the team at NorthShore’s Weight Loss Management Clinic, Evenson lost 12 pounds in just two months. “I feel great and I’m trending in a good direction,” she said.