Overcoming Sleepless Nights

Web Producer: Brad Maglinger

Narcolepsy is a complicated brain disorder in which sleep intrudes into wakefulness. Patients spend their whole lives trying to stay awake and in many cases, trying to figure out what's wrong with them. Sleep specialist Dr. Mark Goetting says believes hundreds of people are needlessly suffering here in the Tri-State. And he thinks they need to get together and talk about it.

When Patsy Cagle moved to the United States from Scotland, it was her dream to live in a big old house and work out in the yard. But for the last ten years, she just hasn't had the energy. So she bought artificial flowers because she was too tired to take care of the real thing.

Doctors told her she just wasn't used to America or her sleepiness was a side effect of her hysterectomy. Her condition got so bad, she was even having hallucinations before and during sleep.

"All these things were going through my mind," says Cagle. "I really thought I was going crazy."

Finally, an overnight sleep study revealed she has the brain disorder narcolepsy.

"Even if they were to tell me I was going to die next week from some terrible disease at least it would be something, but the not knowing what was wrong with me was making me worse," explains Cagle.

Dr. Goetting says, "Once you understand what you have and why you are the way you are, you can change that and there are now wonderful therapies."

Dr. Goetting prescribes narcoleptics the drug Provigil to help them stay awake and the drug Xyrem to help them get a good night's sleep. They're working for Patsy, who hopes soon she'll finally be up to playing with her grandkids or going out dancing with her husband or even planting real flowers in her yard.

She's also hoping to find out more about narcolepsy from other patients in a support group that Dr. Goetting is forming. Here's what she wants to tell those suffering needlessly without the right diagnosis, "Do not let them tell you that it's an age thing, it's a woman thing. Go seek help. Ask for a second opinion."

If constant drowsiness is interfering with your life, you may want to find out more about the symptoms and treatments of sleep disorders. The support group for narcolepsy will meet for the first time Friday night at 7:00 p.m. inside The Pub, 1348 Division Street, Evansville, IN. If you would like to attend, please call Melissa, Becky or Pam at 812-476-5140 to make a reservation. This will allow us to know how many meals to prepare. There will be no cost for you attendance.

This support group is for people with hypersomnia too. People who sleep so hard they need two alarm clocks and often wake up confused. If this sound like you, you should go to the meeting and ask questions.