This summer my friend, Armando, shared a story with me about his troubles with a deviated septum. I was so taken aback by his story that I wrote a post about increasing your oxygen uptake, everything in that post was knowledge shared from him that I explored myself. I asked Armando to share his story again for everyone. - Juji
Breathing well to live well by Armando Figueroa
My name is Armando, and 10 years ago I started to have problems sleeping. At the beginning I just woke up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason and went back to sleep, but over time this problem became worse. The first thing I noticed was that my ability to recover from training started to deteriorate little by little, this hindered my tricking performance and other aspects of my life. I felt I had no energy and I was stressed. My weight started to go up and the overall quality of my life got worst.
When I was a kid I was a little overweight, when I reached puberty I started to train first with Capoeira, then gymnastics, then Parkour, and finally I discovered tricking thanks to trickstutorials.com and Juji. Before that, I didn’t pay much attention to the details of what I was eating or how I was training, it was just a matter of training and eating healthy in general.
5 years ago my sleep problems worsened, I was waking up 3 to 5 times in the night, I didn’t have any trouble going back to sleep but waking up that many times is not what I consider a restful sleep… During this time I was consistent with training and I was eating healthy, but I started to get frustrated because I started to get fat and feel bad.
I felt that what was happening to me was not normal, so I sought medical assistance. After I went to many doctors and after various tests they told me that I was healthy, that maybe my sleeping problems were caused by stress, anxiety or something like that. One doctor even told me that I was only seeking attention and that I was a hypochondriac.
Trying to recover
After convincing myself that everything was fine and that instead my lifestyle was the culprit of my maladies, I read everything I could about nutrition and training. I started to count calories and to train methodically, I also started lifting weights and tried controlling every detail of my diet and training. After putting everything I learned into practice and after some trial and error I managed to lose some weight and gain some strength. But no matter how careful I was with my diet and training, every time I tried to lose weight I lost a significant amount of muscle mass and felt low energy levels all the time. I was consuming enough protein (close to 3g/kg body weight per day) and losing less than half a kilo every week. And even that didn’t help me spare some muscle mass! Every time I lost some weight my sleeping problems worsened, I felt lethargic, sleepy, with low levels of energy and fragile. Losing weight >feel lethargic and fragile > get injured > get fat > recover > repeat. I went through that cycle many many times, and each time I was feeling worst.
After some reading, what was happening to me sounded a lot like the effects experienced by people with very low body fat levels ( ~5% bf) or people who lose weight very fast (more than 1kg/week), considering that my body fat level never went down past 14%, or that I was losing less than 0.5 kg/week that sounded improbable. So every time I read something that sounded even remotely like the symptoms I was experiencing, I paid great attention and tried to determine if I had possibly discovered what was wrong with me.
Looking for the problem…
Later I was browsing a yoga e-shop for foam rollers. I found one where they sold neti pots too, I always wanted to try a neti pot because I always had a stuffed nose to the point sometimes of only being able to breath through my mouth, so I bought one too.
The first time I used a neti pot I noticed that the water flow from one nostril to the other was very slow and it took me around 15 minutes to finish 1L of water to clean my nose, but after the cleaning I could breath a lot better. After 1 week using my new neti pot, I noticed that I was sleeping and breathing better than before, but I was having problems using the neti pot because I felt that I had some sort of blockage inside my right nostril.
I decided to go to a ENT doctor (Ear Nose and Throat doctor), after he reviewed my MRI he told me that I had many problems in my nose: a deviated nasal septum, hypertrophied turbinates and chronically inflamed nasal mucosa.
These kept me from breathing efficiently through my nose. But when I was sleeping the problem was worse, because while I slept I could not breath for short periods of time, this made me wake up many times during the night, this problem is called sleep apnea. After my diagnosis the ENT told me that I needed surgery to correct the problem, he scheduled my surgery for 4 months after, in the meantime he told me to use a mix between saline solution and Oxymetazoline to reduce the swelling in my nose and to keep using the neti pot to clean my nose before sleep. Following these instructions I was able to sleep better and only wake up 1 or 2 times during the night vs the 4-5 times during the night that had become common for me.
On May 7th 2014 I had my surgery, at the moment of writing this months have passed since the surgery and the change in my quality of life has been radical.
- 3 weeks after the surgery I slept 8 uninterrupted hours for the first time in many years.
- 4 weeks after the surgery I started to lift weights again and smashed though many PRs, and since then I have made consistent progress.
- 5 weeks after the surgery I started tricking again, I thought that after the long break I wouldn’t be able to land many tricks, but I was wrong, I could do all of the tricks I had before the surgery, but I also felt considerably lighter, my performance had improved.
Before the surgery I weighed 80 kilos and was fatter than I wanted to be. 8 weeks after the surgery I trimmed down to 76 kilos effortlessly. Normally when I was down past a certain weight I started to feel like shit and my sleeping problems aggravated, but this time it was not the case. I have made great progress in my training and my quality of life has improved tremendously. I feel happy, with energy and the “old man” feeling gone now.
The reason I wanted to share my experience is because I realized that if someone out there reads this and has the same problem I did, maybe it will make him/her look for medical assistance and maybe that will help to correct their problem. Also my friend Juji asked me to write this after I told him my story, he got scared by me into thinking that he maybe had a similar problem. Good sleep and breathing well are things that many people take for granted, and when we lose the ability to have a restful sleep and to breathe well, the only thing that awaits us is a progressive deterioration in quality of life that gets worse every day.