CONWAY, Ark. – Close to 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from sleep apnea. Many times, it’s left undiagnosed or untreated. Now, a relatively new surgery is helping Arkansans sleep through the night.
Imagine turning off the lights, getting into bed and never actually getting a good night’s rest.
“It was the constant waking up and the inability to just get sleep. My body became used to it,” Chris Stratton said.
Stratton has suffered from sleep apnea his entire life, even giving CPAP machines a try.
“I just couldn’t. I failed,” Stratton said. “I had gotten used to the fact that I had sleep apnea and I didn’t sleep.”
That acceptance lasted for decades until he saw an ad for a new kind of treatment.
“That was it,” Stratton said. “I knew exactly, I said ‘that’s what I want.'”
Immediately, he scheduled a consultation with Dr. Patrick Fraley at Baptist Health in Conway.
“People with untreated sleep apnea have increased risks of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary disease, pulmonary hypertension,” Dr. Fraley said.
After a year, Stratton was finally approved to get the device called Inspire.
“It’s an implant that goes on the nerve that moves your tongue and then it runs a wire underneath the skin to what looks like a pacemaker in the chest,” Dr. Fraley said. “When you go to bed at nighttime, you’ll place a remote control over this portion and that turns it on and then when you go to sleep and lay down and you breathe in your tongue will protrude and keep it from blocking off your airway.”
Stratton said the difference is night and day.
“You just have a ton of energy, you feel great and I couldn’t be more thankful honestly for this,” Stratton said.
It’s not just the feeling of being alert and awake, but what now happens when his eyes are closed.
“I never had a dream because I was never sleeping enough to get there and I remember right after it activated, I had a dream and I woke up and was like ‘holy crap what was that?’ I mean it was absolutely insane,” Stratton said.
From one dream to the next, for Stratton, this machine is a dream come true.
“It’s added years to my life,” Stratton said.