By Susan McDonald, Editorial Specialist
Eden Weinmann hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in 30 years. Scoliosis arcs his spine, making it difficult to breathe when he would lie down to sleep. When he did drift off, the curvature triggered gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), high blood pressure and a pressing need to urinate several times a night, which disrupted his rest.
Over the years, Weinmann sought medical help for much-needed sleep. One day after a nap, he noticed his blood pressure was elevated. He researched the connection and found sleep apnea.
“I found a textbook chapter about diseases of the chest wall,” Weinmann says of a piece written by F. Dennis McCool, MD, interim chief of pulmonary, sleep and critical care medicine at Memorial Hospital and medical director of the sleep labs at both Memorial and Kent hospitals. “He connects chest wall disease with sleep apnea.”
Sleep apnea closes the throat when the person is asleep, interrupting the flow of air to the lungs. Dr. McCool wrote that he had seen significant improvement when patients with chest wall diseases use a bipap machine that uses pressure to get the air into the lungs. Weinmann bought his own machine and traveled from Thailand to Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, Rhode Island for a sleep study with Dr. McCool.
After trying five categories of urine remedies, cognitive behavior therapy, GERD medications, and limiting caffeine during the day, Weinmann says his night in the Memorial Hospital Sleep Lab was “great.” Once he was able to get more sleep, he found his daytime work schedule improved as he could concentrate more.
“It was a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders, like a major black cloud of the quality of my life going away and the sunshine coming back out!” he says. “I’m in heaven!”
Dr. McCool says, blending clinical acumen with knowledge of respiratory physiology allowed him to make better connections between a specific disease and other possible symptoms.
“People don’t have the time to think about the physiological side of things, but they need to because there are so many answers in the overlap,” he says.