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Sleep Apnea Claims Experience With Minimal Service Treatment


K_C

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Hi All,

I have a question for those of you rated or fighting for sleep apnea. Admittedly, I'm putting the cart before the horse a bit here because I am not currently diagnosed with sleep apnea. However, I am lined up to see a private pulmonary doctor and finally get a sleep study. I'm fairly certain I have some degree of sleep apnea based on my wife's observations, and my history of waking up with severe headaches, waking while I'm actually suffocating, and the worst part, constant sleepiness I've dealt with for almost fifteen years now.

In any case, I'm looking for any experiences, success/ongoing-battle stories with sleep apnea claims and service connection. Unfortunately, like almost all of my conditions that occurred while active duty, I didn't seek much of any medical attention for them, and I feel the nexus is going to be a big fight. Here's my in-a-nutshell in-service treatment

  1. Aug-2004 (19 y/o): Saw doc at first duty station, complained of hard time establishing sleep pattern and uncontrolled passing out, daytime somnolence, and bad quality of sleep. His assessment was insomnia and he prescribed ambien. However, the caveat here is I related this to having a new baby, so it may only be seen as acute and directly related to the circumstance.
  2. Oct-04: Reported taking sleeping pills on a routine dental exam history questionnaire. I don't believe this would even be considered as evidence, but it's there in my records.
  3. Jan-2007: Saw doc for trouble sleeping and insomnia--but again related it to the circumstance of working nightshift. Doctor prescribed Rozerem for insomnia.

So, in 7 years of service I was seen twice for sleeping problems, both excused with circumstance, and never pursued as the chronic issue it was. After discharge, I was even worse about seeking treatment. My general feeling about western medicine is that it rarely has any answers to my problems, and therefore I tend to just "save myself the time" and treat myself with the collective wisdom of the Internet. :lol:

If/when I am diagnosed with sleep apnea, I will file a claim. I don't have anything to lose by filing. I'm wondering if there are any pitfalls or strategies to be aware of before I file. So, anyone have a similar in-service history with a claim experience? I welcome any experiences or advice. Thanks in advance.

Edited by whalenkcj
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I think those incidences where you consulted military medical about sleep problems with be the main thing to hang you hat on unless you suffered some facial injury while in service You have to find something to tie your current OSA to service. I have OSA and I did complain about insomnia in service. I would bet $100 bucks I could not win an OSA claim. I have not even bothered to file. If you win then maybe I will file. If you had buddies who heard you snoring or wife who heard you snoring during service years that could be buddy statement that would be proof you had some sleep problem in service. OSA is the current generations version of PTSD and Agent Orange problems for Vietnam vets.

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Hi John999,

Thanks for the insight. I'm curious--how is a facial injury connected to apnea? Would it have to do with damage to the nose/septum or jaw? I'm not sure if it could be related, but I was in an auto accident in service in which I was knocked unconscious. Thing is, I had these problems before that, though if it could contribute I do have plenty of medical evidence of that event.

My wife did observe me snoring while in service and my roommate (also military) at my first duty station also heard it. I could get buddy letters from both, but I don't think anyone else would have observed it. I used to pass out in the "bread van" that we would all pile into and get shuttled around to aircraft for launching. I still have contact with some of those guys who saw that. Some of them even physically assaulted me to wake me up. :dry:

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Hey, I think you may have struck paydirt. An injury to the nose/septum or jaw might very well impact your sleep. If your wife and buddies heard you snoring that is also evidence. You need an medical opinion from a sleep doctor or ENT saying that auto accident injuries may as likely as not caused your OSA. I have injury to my nose but it did not happen in service or at least I can't prove it.

John

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It may be an uphill battle but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Show your private pulmonary doctor your SMR with the sleep apnea symptom references. Perhaps you can convince him to provide you with an IME report and an IMO after he completes the sleep study. At a minimum, he will need to state in the IMO that it "is at least as likely as not" that your sleep apnea started during your military service and justify his opinion with reasonable medical rationale.

Also, get buddy statements from some of your old military buddies and a statement in support of claim from your spouse stating you had sleep apnea symptoms while in the military. The statements should be as specific as possible.

Just a side note regarding obstructive sleep apnea. The most often prescribed treatment for OSA is CPAP. If you have problems adjusting to the CPAP, you might want to consider alternatives to the CPAP including oral devices and surgery. Hadit member,

John 999 recently had surgery for OSA and can give you info on the surgery alternative.

You also mentioned in your post that you had "uncontrolled passing out." I recently had the same problem which was corrected with a pacemaker. I currently have IHD (Coronary Artery Disease) with 3 stents. My cardiologist sent me for a Tilt Table Test and I was diagnosed with Sick Sinus Syndrome. Sick Sinus Syndrome is a heart condition where your heart rate suddenly drops and you pass out. If you are still having episodes of passing out, please get checked by a cardiologist. JMO

Good luck to you and thank you for your service.

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