How My Dentist Saved My Thyroid, My Life and My Marriage
Posted on 1/3/2019 by Foundation for Airway Health
I thought I was worn out because of my challenging daily routines and lack of rest. We have triplets; two of them are on the autistic spectrum, and my son has a form of cerebral palsy. I’m 44 years old and the proud father of these extraordinary children. In my work life, I’m a licensed pharmacist. I had always been in good health, but about ten years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – an autoimmune disease that presents with symptoms of low thyroid. Shortly after that, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea.
The suffering was tremendous. I was too embarrassed by my snoring to go on business trips if it involved sharing a room. Whenever I drank alcohol, my wife would suffer as well because I would keep her up at night. There were nights she slept in another room with the door closed. I couldn’t blame her. I went in for a sleep study finally in 2012. My AHI – Apnea Hypopnea Index – was a stratospheric 57.2, meaning I stopped breathing just about every minute. No wonder I never felt refreshed when I woke up in the morning; my body was saving my life every minute with snorts and gasps, just to get enough air to survive.
It was my pulmonologist who sent me to Dr. Neal Seltzer, and recommended I try an oral device and/or consider surgical treatment so I could breathe while sleeping. Once I landed in that practice, it was smooth sailing. They made me an oral appliance to hold my throat open as I slept and in very short order my AHI went to a manageable 5.6. I’ll add that I was very fortunate; I paid my deductible and the balance was covered by my insurance.
Being able to breathe again at night has been transforming. My energy is at a limitless high. I wake up every morning checking my smart watch and noticing that I got at least seven hours of continuous sleep with approximately 20% REM! My wife is happy and always tells me how I sleep so quietly now. My focus in life and participation in events are at an all-time high. And here is something I want doctors to know: my thyroid stimulating hormones have returned to normal levels and without medication. Have you ever heard of Hashimoto’s resolving like that?
I have an app on my phone called SnoreLab which records my sleep sounds through the entire night. I always play the file back and listen to how quietly I sleep. It makes me smile from ear to ear.
Please note that as a pharmacist, my first inclination was not to treat my snoring and especially not to treat thyroid disease with a dental appliance. In fact, however, once I stopped experiencing the brutal effects of sleeplessness, my thyroid improved as well. I’m currently being monitored and remain asymptomatic and non-medicated.
I knew I was going to end up a statistic. I didn’t want my wife and three children to suffer because I didn’t seek treatment. I hope my story will help others who are in the tedious process of going from doctor to doctor in search of solutions. There is no pharmaceutical that can replace opening a narrow airway. If a narrow airway is causing the problem – be it insomnia, thyroid disease or marital strife – opening that airway is the only solution. I truly felt my life was on the line. When bedtime comes around now, though, I weather a joke from my wife about my jawline and then happily put in my appliance. I can’t wait to wear it; it’s the first step to a good night’s sleep and a bright future.
I have become an airway activist. The work done by Dr. Neal Seltzer and his staff literally saved my life, my thyroid gland, and my marriage.