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Greg Michniak – Sleep Apnea Success Story

A second wind for a father of five

Greg Michniak and his family. Since starting treatment for sleep apnea,
Greg Michniak has more energy and is finally
the family man he wants to be to his wife, Amy,
and their five children.

After treatment for sleep apnea, Greg Michniak has plenty of energy for his family and his students.

Some of the longest seconds of Greg Michniak’s life were the ones he spent waiting for his father to breathe again. While growing up, Greg and his dad would go on hunting trips, and at night, Greg remembers waking up to the sound of his father gasping for air.

“It was always startling and alarming, but he always started breathing again,” Greg says, recalling how he had eventually brushed off the incidents as no big deal.

He went on with his life, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Dallas Baptist University, teaching religion in local Catholic schools, and raising five children with his wife, Amy.

He began following in his father’s footsteps about 10 years ago, however. That’s when Amy started noticing that Greg would occasionally stop breathing in his sleep, just as his father had done. She was truly worried, but Greg was unconcerned.

Like father, like son

Greg’s change of heart came in 2012. His father had finally started a treatment for sleep apnea called CPAP, short for continuous positive airway pressure. Greg couldn’t deny the change he saw in his dad.

“He said it was night and day comparing his sleep with CPAP to what it was before,” says Greg, who was also learning about the negative health effects of interrupted sleep, like high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Finally in 2014 Greg tried out an at-home sleep study.

The result was a diagnosis of severe sleep apnea.

“Greg was having breathing obstructions about once every minute,” says Greg Foster, MD, pulmonologist on the medical staff at Methodist Richardson Medical Center who is board certified in sleep medicine. “Anytime there are more than 30 an hour — and he was having 60 — we call that severe.”

Dr. Foster says the at-home sleep studies offered by Methodist Richardson are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and reviewed by a board-certified physician. They are not the computer-generated screening tests offered by most unaccredited facilities.

“Home testing is able to make the diagnosis of sleep apnea more acceptable, accessible, and affordable for people who need to be screened for sleep apnea,” Dr. Foster says. “It’s helping people like Greg become true believers who are more willing to say, ‘Okay, I’ve got to do something.’”

For Greg, again like his dad, that something was CPAP.

Immediate results

“The last three to four years, just getting up in the morning was a struggle, but the first time I slept with CPAP, I definitely noticed a difference,” Greg says. “I felt so much better the next day that I didn’t want to sleep without it. I wanted to feel that way again.”

And he has — every morning since starting CPAP. He is more focused and productive at work, and his colleagues even say he’s happier, not to mention the effect it’s had on his family.

“My wife doesn’t have to worry, and my kids notice that I’m in a better mood and am able to spend time with them,” he says. “We went to Disney World at the end of September, and for the first time ever, I was actually rested enough to enjoy a family vacation.”

In fact, he says his family has been his motivation.

“I was going to be 40, and I didn’t want to look back and wish I had done something to prevent something detrimental to my health,” he says. “If I was going to be the type of father and husband I wanted to be, this is what I had to do, and I’m so glad I did.” •

Trade sawing logs for sound sleep

“Snoring isn’t a sure sign of sleep apnea, but if it’s accompanied by daytime fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, or cardiovascular disease, then it heightens the possibility,” says Greg Foster, MD, pulmonologist on the medical staff at Methodist Richardson and participant in the Methodist Health System–Mayo Clinic Care Network collaboration. To find a physician to refer you for a study, call 214-947-6296.

From the spring 2016 edition of Shine magazine.