When former bookkeeper Mary Thach reached retirement, she couldn’t seem to get a full night’s sleep; instead, she was dozing off during the day. It wasn’t until she awoke behind the wheel on a highway that she knew it was time to seek help.
“At first I thought it was a kidney infection keeping me up all night,” Thach said. Once her kidneys checked out fine, Thach’s doctor ordered a sleep study in Springfield. “Turns out I had sleep apnea, so they set me up with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device. Now I’m sleeping so much better and don’t go to bed without it.”
Thach, an Aurora native, made yearly drives to Springfield for check-ups. “When they opened Mercy Sleep Center – Aurora, it cut back on my drive time significantly,” added Thach, now 88 years old. “I get my CPAP adjusted in Aurora and can even buy supplies; it’s very convenient and they’re always very nice.”
“Mary is 100 percent compliant every time she comes in,” said registered sleep technician Christina Burchett. At the new sleep center in Aurora, Burchett can quickly download information from patients’ devices. “A lot of people think a CPAP is just for the elderly, but it’s not. If you’re overweight, having trouble sleeping, or just not breathing right at night and you’re snoring, snorting or gasping, you likely need a sleep study. That’s something we now offer here.”
At Mercy Sleep Center – Aurora, Burchett walks patients through an in-depth, one-on-one discussion before they’re wired with sensors. Then minute by minute, Burchett closely monitors patients sleeping in the comfortable, bedroom-like environment, complete with a nightstand and recliner. “There’s a speaker in the room so I can hear them if they have a problem or need something. Once they wake up, I remove the equipment and clean up their hair the best I can so they can at least go through the drive-thru on their way home. I’ve gotten so many hugs at the end of sessions.”
Data is analyzed by a board-certified sleep medicine specialist and put into a secure database. The testing and treatment of each patient is determined by the sleep specialist. After, the results are then sent to the patient’s physician. Medical director Dr. John Brabson oversees the sleep center and visits monthly for clinical appointments.
“Dr. Brabson tells me I’m his best patient,” Thach said with a smile. “I tell all my friends to get a sleep study if they’re having problems. Sure, it’s difficult getting used to the CPAP, but I would be dead long ago if I hadn’t gone in.”
Thach isn’t alone. According to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, at least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, and another 20 to 30 million experience occasional sleep problems. Disorders include insomnia, snoring, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. Some of the common signs or symptoms of untreated sleep apnea include depression, fatigue, diabetes, hypertension, acid reflux, memory problems, fibromyalgia, and morning headaches. If you experience any of these problems, you should talk to your doctor about referring you for a sleep study.
“We do more than just slap on wires,” Burchett said. “It’s about education and getting down to the root of the problem so patients can live healthier, longer lives.”
Mercy Sleep Center – Aurora is located within Mercy Hospital Aurora at 500 Porter Avenue. For more information, call 417-678-7983 or click here.