Marty Feldman made me laugh. Many of you will recall his performance in the classic comedy “Young Frankenstein” playing the endearing Igor (which he pronounced with a long ‘I’ sound); a movie bristling with slapstick and quotable one-liners. When Dr. Frankenstein offers to surgically remove the hump from his back he innocently replies “what hump?” Maybe I’m just easy, but, it always makes me laugh. One would think he was being coy, or maybe just naïve’. Or, he could have been in serious denial.
I see this behavior frequently in my profession, to the point of wanting to laugh sometimes, and I might if I weren’t dealing with potentially life-threatening health concerns. I’ll give you an example.
Sleep apnea is a very common affliction affecting more than half of us after age 55 and is a ‘not-so-silent killer’ of significant magnitude. Severe sleep apnea increases heart attack and stroke risk by 8X, drives up blood sugar and blood pressure, is associated with chronic fatigue, chronic pain, dementia and more. Many people who suffer from a sleep breathing disorder are truly not aware that they have this condition. Others, however, are fully aware of the symptoms they suffer which may include heavy snoring, excessive daytime fatigue, inability to concentrate on tasks, acid reflux or awakening in the night gasping for breath, and yet will deny they may have a serious health issue. Why?
I believe that denial of this condition may often be based in fear. They usually know someone with sleep apnea who has a machine to help them breathe at night (the CPAP) and they know they don’t want to use that machine. They would rather not know how sick they really are due to fear of the therapy.
For these people I want to send a message of hope and maybe alleviate some of their fear. There is an alternative therapy to manage sleep apnea which uses oral airway dilator devices which are worn in the mouth while asleep, not unlike a retainer or a night guard. They are comfortable for most people and are appropriate for the management of many types of sleep apnea. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of this option, and yet were they to take advantage of it, could increase their life span by ten to twenty years and dramatically improve the quality of their lives.
Many of our afflictions are not as obvious as that of poor Igor’s and most not as funny. (You may remember his hump moved from side to side.) Newer, more effective and less invasive medical techniques are developed all the time and there is no reason to remain in denial. My advice…..LOSE THE HUMP!
Dr. JC Goodwin earned his dental degree in 1984. His practice is limited to providing oral appliance therapy for people with sleep breathing disorders who are intolerant of CPAP. He holds a Diplomate credential from both the Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorders Disciplines and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Oral appliances are typically covered by both medical insurance and Medicare. He can be reached at 928-770-5700.