Home Medical Equipment

Patient Reflection

A Good Night’s Sleep

When we typically think of a ‘mother and son’ relationship, it is usually the mother doing the teaching and helping her young one. However, in the case of Vanessa and Andrew Schmitt, Elgin, it was Andrew’s new-found life change that had his mom running to the same place to get what he had….a good night’s sleep.

“Andrew had a brain trauma in 2005, and since then, he has doctored a great deal,” the mom explains. “Andrew sees about 16 doctors on a regular basis.”

When the family noticed how tired Andrew was, his restless sleeping and constant snoring, Dr. Rasool, Gundersen, ordered a sleep study done in La Crosse. A sleep study is a test for diagnosing and treating sleep-related disorders. During the sleep study, brain activity is monitored as well as heart rate, airflow, oxygen levels in the blood, body position, chest and abdomen movement, eye activity and muscle movements.

 Immediately, Andrew was diagnosed with sleep apnea (a temporary cessation of breathing during sleep) and prescribed a CPAP machine.  With Andrew’s previous health history, the doctors didn’t want to waste time knowing the low oxygen level during the test was a major concern. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) refers to a medical device used primarily for the treatment of sleep apnea. A CPAP machine has a small box connected to tubes through which air flows. The tubes are connected to a mask worn on the face. Straps around the mask fit it to the face over the mouth and nose. For those with sleep apnea, the CPAP is used at night during normal sleep.

“During the sleep study, Andrew woke up more times than one can count. No wonder he was so tired all the time! If you are waking up a hundred times a night, of course you are tired. And, with Andrew having other health concerns, he needs his rest more than most people.”

According to his sleep study, Andrew was waking up more than 110 times a night based on his AHI, or apnea-hypopnea index, a numerical measure that accounts for the number of pauses in breathing per hour of sleep. It is used to assess the severity of an individual’s sleep apnea.

“Having spent years in the medical world with Andrew’s trauma, we knew Palmer Lutheran fairly well and knew Home Medical Supply carried lots of equipment, so we wanted to keep our medical care local.”

Visiting a Palmer Home Medical Supply’s respiratory therapist, the mother/son duo was overwhelmed with all the choices.

“They let me take a bunch home to try right away and helped me fix the face mask to make it feel better,” Andrew remembers. After a lot of trial and error, Andrew had the night of his life.

“I remember Andrew came running to me one morning so excited and said, ‘I don’t ever want to take my mask off Mom! I slept so good. I love it!’” Vanessa smiles.  “Once he got the mask, Andrew would sleep for ten hours. Can’t get much better than that.”

Within a week, Andrew was a whole new boy, just in time to play baseball and hang out with his grandpa, who is key in Andrew’s medical care providing transportation so his parents are able to continuing working.

“We eat!” Andrew laughs. “Well…Grandpa and I play golf too, but we really like to eat!”

After a single month, Andrew’s AHI went from 110 to 1.2, which the Palmer respiratory therapist found incredible. From waking up over a hundred times a night to a single time, Andrew was the poster child for a successful CPAP.

Mom laughs, “He sleeps so well I had to do tummy checks every once in a while to make sure he was ok and still breathing since he isn’t so restless.”

Seeing his son’s new-found energy, Andrew’s dad, Chris, started noticing similar characteristics with his wife, such as tiredness, snoring and restless sleep.

“I knew something was up too. I was feeling very tired at work and making it through the day was almost impossible. So, with a ‘little’ prompting from my husband and three kids, I called Dr. Rasool and had a sleep study done at Palmer as well.”

Right away, Palmer Lutheran knew that, like her son, Vanessa needed a CPAP machine.

“Palmer was so accommodating with our family,” Vanessa states. “Since Andrew already had a CPAP machine, I knew the drill and immediately went to Palmer Home Medical Supply to get fitted.”

However, unlike Andrew, Vanessa’s first try at a mask was a perfect fit. There wasn’t the trial and error that went along with her son. However, it wasn’t the perfect experience.

“It was hard! There is air blowing in your face when you are trying to breathe. I’m not going to lie…it was very bothersome, but SO WORTH IT! Once I accepted the fact this was for my own good, I was sleeping like a baby within a week. My family noticed my energy level and positive personality changes almost immediately. They now have to try to keep up with me!”

In fact, the first night Vanessa used her CPAP, she didn’t wake up once.

“My back hurt the next morning since I slept so hard…I wonder how many years I had been sleeping so poorly?”

And, the Schmitt family can’t say enough about Palmer Home Medical Supply and their staff. “They called regularly at the beginning to just check in and make sure that everything was going well. They worked so closely with Andrew to get the proper fit on his mask. We still see them occasionally for check-ups. Each person remembers us and asks us about our family and our lives. Especially Andrew. With over 16 doctors, it is nice that they take the extra time to remember all the little things that makes Andrew so special. They have become like family.”