Madelyn Olson is breathing easier these days, but there were years where she was losing sleep over her medical condition. She just didn’t know exactly what it was.
What she did know was that, when she’d lie down, “it felt like a gate closed in the back of my throat.”
That closing gate was in fact the muscles of her throat relaxing. Those muscles control the soft palate, uvula, walls of the throat and the tongue. As her throat relaxed, her airway narrowed or closed.
“I would choke or cough in sleep,” said Madelyn. That response came from her brain: It wasn’t getting enough oxygen.
“It made it hard to get a good night’s sleep,” she added, “and I’d feel tired the next day.”
A visit to the sleep experts at the Sleep Center at Mercy Medical Center in the MedQuarter Regional Medical District helped assess and identify the problem. She had sleep apnea, which caused her airway to close up to 23 times per hour while sleeping.
“That was the gate closing I was feeling,” she explained.
Sleeping Better with the Gate Open
The sleep assessment also determined what the setting should be on prescribed breathing equipment. With that information, she headed over to nearby CarePro Health Services, a medical equipment and services supplier in the MedQuarter.
“The folks at CarePro were so kind and patient with me,” said Madelyn. “I have claustrophobia, and the first couple of systems I tried were too much for me. I was trying one system and the power in the house went out. I was happy because I just ripped it off,” she remembers.
The CarePro team worked with her to find a solution, which turned out to be a “pillow-style” nose piece system that uses soft inserts in the nose to supply oxygen rather than a full face mask.
“It worked great, and now I can’t sleep without it,” she explained with a laugh.
Her equipment lasted many years, until recently she was encouraged to upgrade to new. She was tired of having to hand wash her equipment every day, so at the same time she purchased a hands-free chemical sanitizing system.
After a short time using the new equipment, she began to develop sores in her nose. Her doctors were unsure of the cause, and tests revealed no obvious problems. It wasn’t until she got a letter from her equipment manufacturer stating they were replacing any equipment that had been sanitized by her particular cleaning machine.
The reason was that an unwanted chemical reaction might occur between parts of the equipment and the chemicals in the sanitizer.
Challenges Overcome in the MedQuarter
She got a full refund from the sanitizer manufacturer, and soon she’ll have all-new breathing equipment. She’s back to hand washing, but that’s not all bad. “As soon as I stopped using the sanitizer machine, the sores in my nose started healing,” she said.
Though she does so mostly by phone and online these days, she loves working with CarePro. “They work with me to make sure everything is right,” said Madelyn, who recommends both CarePro and the MedQuarter to others.
Due to several unrelated health issues, she and her husband have made multiple trips per week from their home in Marion to the MedQuarter in the past six months.
Despite their health challenges, she loves the convenience of the MedQuarter. “We might have three appointments in three different buildings on any given day,” explained Madelyn.
That might be a scheduling or transportation hassle for anyone.
“But the parking and all the appointments are within a block of each other,” she adds, “so it’s not bad at all. The convenience of the MedQuarter having all the medical locations I need helps alleviate additional burden.”