Annandale Woman Using Inspire Technology to Treat Sleep Apnea

Sleep Medicine
“Going from 200 apneas a night to zero. There are just not enough words to explain how happy I am.”

Jill Bowers of Annandale suffered from sleep apnea for years before she finally found a solution that would give her restful nights of sleep.

“I’m not a teenager — so, why am I sleeping like this?” questioned the grandma and mother of two. “I hated it. That’s when I started to wonder if something was wrong with me.”

Jill remembers experiencing many sleepless nights, never feeling rested. Eventually, it started impacting her daily life.

“My first thought, when I’d wake up in the morning for the last 10 to 20 years, was always ‘how many hours until I can go lay down again?’” Jill confided.

Roughly five years ago, Jill took a job working at a big box retail store in town. That’s when her quality of life took a dive.

“I thought it was because I was getting up at four o’clock in the morning and I was on my feet all day,” Jill exclaimed. “I would sometimes doze off on my way home from work. The rumbling bars on the road would wake me up. I’d get home and I couldn’t function.”

Jill was often too exhausted after work to do anything — making herself dinner and doing things she enjoyed like crafting and reading books. Her marriage of 35 years started suffering.

“My husband left me because he thought I was being lazy,” Jill admitted.

She knew it was time to reach out to CentraCare – Sleep Center for help. Jill started working with Sleep Medicine Physician Troy Payne, MD. She underwent a sleep study and was diagnosed with sleep apnea, a disorder where a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer several times while they sleep.

Jill was fitted with a continuous positive airway pressure mask (CPAP) to wear while she slept. It connects to a machine that keeps a person’s airways open using mild air pressure.

She was hoping it would finally give her the rest she’d been longing for.

“I have a slight problem with claustrophobia that, I guess, I didn’t realize — and I’m a mouth breather. There wasn’t a single morning I would wake up with the CPAP still on,” she recalled.

Jill realized she’d been removing her mask in her sleep and started losing hope that she’d ever have a restful night of sleep again. After sticking with the CPAP for a few months, she eventually gave up and went back to her old sleep routine.

One night after work, she was watching a commercial on television for Inspire, a medical device that works with your body’s natural breathing process to stimulate the muscles responsible for controlling your airway. Jill wondered if she qualified to be a candidate for the new treatment.

“I thought ‘It’s too new and it’s on TV. There’s no way my insurance will cover it.’”

She couldn’t get the commercial out of her head. After doing some research, she realized her insurance did cover the Inspire procedure. She went back to Dr. Payne for a referral and underwent a new sleep study. The results revealed she had stopped breathing an alarming 200 times.

“I’m not being dramatic when I say this. I thought I was dying. In fact, if this didn’t work, that’s the road I was going,” she gasped.

Jill had Inspire implanted in October 2022 and turned it on for the first time on Dec. 6, 2022.

“I feel so much better. I’m happy. I can cook dinner and I’m working on my crafts again. I’m feeling better daily. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s a life-changing miracle,” she praised.

Jill advocated for an alternative treatment option when she felt like she was at a dead end. Today she’s happy to report no more sleep apnea at night.

“Going from 200 apneas a night to zero. There are just not enough words to explain how happy I am.”