Wiertzema finds relief for sleep apnea with BPAP prescription
ADRIAN -- After arising from restless hours of sleep for far too long, Adrian resident Dave Wiertzema has finally found a successful formula for achieving a long winter's nap -- every night of the year.
ADRIAN - After arising from restless hours of sleep for far too long, Adrian resident Dave Wiertzema has finally found a successful formula for achieving a long winter’s nap - every night of the year.
“I used to go to bed by 9:30, 10 p.m. and get up at 7 a.m. but still feel tired,” said Wiertzema, 65.
“Now I might go to bed around midnight, get up by 6 a.m. and feel refreshed and ready for the day.
“I sleep soundly for the whole night, and it’s made a world of difference in my daytime energy levels.”
Although he’s recently battled other illnesses (notably myasthenia gravis), Wiertzema’s sleep apnea had contributed to an ongoing feeling of fatigue for many years. His wife Jerre, an 18-year employee of Sanford Worthington Medical Center, couldn’t help but point it out to him.
“My wife said I’d always had it, but you never listen to your wife,” chuckled Wiertzema.
“I kept putting it off, but she’d complain, ‘You snore at night,’” he related.
While Wiertzema was hospitalized during August at Sioux Falls, S.D., due to complications from myasthenia gravis, medical personnel noticed his chronic sleep issues.
“They were working on my lungs and pulmonary function, trying to get that going again, and put me on a BPAP machine to help me sleep through the night,” explained Wiertzema.
“The oxygen in my blood went way down - I was in the hospital for 12 days - and they wouldn’t let me go home without a BPAP machine.”
A BPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machine is similar to a CPAP machine and aids sleep apnea sufferers by pushing air back into lungs when muscles are otherwise too relaxed to allow patients to perform that necessary function effectively on their own.
“It’s quite a machine,” credited Wiertzema. “There’s a mask to put over my nose and mouth, and every time I breathe, it pushes air into my lungs.
“At first it took a little getting used to, but before long it helped put me right to sleep and I get through the whole night without making any noise.
“Today my wife doesn’t complain about my snoring; if anything, I think she snores a little now.”
Snoring, Wiertzema said, is an indication that more air is attempting to enter one’s lungs.
For insurance purposes, Wiertzema underwent a sleep test to determine his medical need for continued use of a BPAP machine. He’s been under the care of Dr. John C. Yu, a Sioux Falls-based Sanford Health physician who is board-certified in internal medicine, critical care, sleep medicine and pulmonary medicine.
“Dr. Yu prescribed it for me,” said Wiertzema, adding that Dr. Yu visits Sanford Worthington each Thursday, but that the machine’s technology makes frequent doctor visits unnecessary.
“It’s amazing,” said Wiertzema of the BPAP machine. “It’s smaller than a shoebox and there’s a little cell phone chip in it that automatically transmits my statistics to a hospital in Sioux Falls. A doctor there can review a printout of that to see how I slept.”
Following his mid-August health crisis, Wiertzema and his wife were able to take a nine-day bus tour to New York City - and the BPAP machine went along for the ride.
“We got to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Trump Tower and the 9/11 Memorial - that alone is worth going to NYC - and I used the BPAP machine every night because it’s pretty mobile, and I had the same good results everywhere we were,” Wiertzema said.
In the process of being diagnosed with sleep apnea, Wiertzema experienced a sleep test.
“That wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t too uncomfortable, either,” he mentioned. “It was done right in Worthington - they have three rooms there that are more like bedrooms than hospital rooms, so it felt like staying in a hotel instead of a hospital.
“They fastened about 20 wires to my body and chest and monitored my heart, lungs and brain activity while I slept,” he continued.
“Then they let me sleep, and around 6 a.m. I was done and sent home.”
Wiertzema, who previously worked at Runnings for seven years, retired just last week from a position as team leader after an eight-year stint at Tractor Supply Company of Worthington. Having grown up on a farm near Ellsworth, Wiertzema and Jerre moved into Adrian about five years ago when their son, Brian (a merchandiser at the Brewster soybean processing plant), expressed interest in maintaining cattle on the farm.
“We moved into town and let him take over the home place,” Wiertzema explained, adding that the family is looking forward to celebrating Brian’s wedding in a few weeks.
The Wiertzemas also have two daughters, the elder of whom has three children and is a special education teacher in Wisconsin. Their younger daughter, Jill, lives south of Adrian with her husband Chris Wolf and their four children. Jill recently opened Adrian Floral.
Fortunately for Wiertzema, the treatments prescribed for his sleep apnea have left him feeling much better and energetic, allowing him to more easily keep up with his multiple grandkids’ activities and assist in other ways.
“I’ve even been caught delivering flowers for my daughter already,” he laughed.
Although one casualty of Wiertzema’s myasthenia gravis has been his love for riding his Yamaha motorcycle (“I’ve lost some of my equilibrium and balance so will have to sell it,” he shared), he’s now more able to stay fully awake and alert while watching his beloved Westerns and shuttling his grandkids to and fro.
“The machine also keeps my sinuses completely cleaned out - everything seems to be wide open, and if they want to take the machine away from me they’d have a fight on their hands,” he joked.
Wiertzema is quick to testify to the benefits of regular, reliable and adequate sleep. He encourages those who may be struggling with excessive snoring or sleep apnea to consult a doctor about whether their situations can be similarly improved.
Commented the grateful Wiertzema, “You can’t believe how good you feel in the morning after a full, restful night of sleep.”