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By Angie Resler

What came first " obesity, sleep apnea or lymphedema?

I am not a medical professional, but have had enough serious medical issues that I have become a self-proclaimed expert on all things that afflict me. I have been diagnosed with acute sleep apnea, obesity and lymphedema. I have been to multiple hospitals, doctors and clinics. I have endlessly searched the internet. I have spoken with therapists, professionals and other sufferers like me. I have decided to take back my life.

What came first – obesity, sleep apnea or lymphedema?

All of these afflictions actually affect each other. Excess weight can causes sleep apnea and lymphedema due to the excess fat and tissue that presses on your systems. Serious lymphedema can cause weight issues due to the inability to be mobile, which in turn can trigger sleep problems. Sleep apnea can create weight issues due to the lack of oxygen during sleep, which can lead to weight gain, metabolism problems, and exhaustion. No diet, exercise regimen or trainer was able to help me. So – which one comes first? For me, it was sleep apnea.

Can you breathe through a straw?

After unexplained weight gain and my father begging me to have my snoring evaluated, in 1999 it was determined that I had acute obstructive sleep apnea. My jaw structure did not form correctly and created an airway that was the size of a straw vs. the size of a quarter. I had a serious problem.

That summer, I underwent a Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP).They raised my soft palate, took out my Uvula, and moved my hyoid bone. This was to open my airway. The procedure failed to help me. The next summer, I underwent a maxillomandibular advancement which basically means they cut out my jaws and moved them forward to physically open my throat. It changed my appearance, as well.

This procedure worked – for a while. Due to the amount of weight gain and the damage that had been caused to my metabolism and organs, it was very rough to lose the weight that had been gained. I was able to shed some of the unwanted pounds but not all of them. I was successfully off of my CPAP machine, though.

Fast forward

I was blessed with my child at the age of 42 but due to my prior health issues, the weight gain/sleep apnea came back with a vengeance because of the stress on my body. During pregnancy, I gained 68 pounds, which was mostly water.

Proteins started building up and the delivery developed into an emergency situation. The large amount of water developed into lymphedema as my lymph system became compromised. So, I am obese, swollen, and still can't breathe.

Self treatment and self improvement – a work in progress

While I am still suffering all three health situations, I have been able to ease the symptoms and am slowing regaining health. How? I have three secret weapons. My CPAP machine, an adjustable bed and a treadmill.

Can you relate?

Pity parties are a waste of time. I have thrown many of them. Here are proven ways that I am able to control my situation and am gaining control of my life.

Adjustable bed

The lymphedema in my legs is now starting to improve. It is being controlled and drained thanks to the aid of my adjustable bed. Yes – the kind you see in the commercials. It is beneficial because all medical research states elevating the swollen limb/s to drain the fluid is crucial to skin health and to release the pressure on the veins and lymph systems.


The CPAP machine is a breathing mask that forces air into the nose, mouth, or both. With the use of the CPAP, quality sleep and maximum oxygen levels are reached. This can also aid in metabolism, weight control, and muscle retention.


Of course, this is the most sensible. The treadmill is to exercise. With gentle exercise, it helps your body to move the fluid from lymphedema to hopefully restore or improve lymph flow. It also helps build muscle and improve cardio function to help weight control or even weight loss, which will improve other symptoms.

End game

With the aid of all three machines, quality of life has improved. Mobility has improved. The combination of the three machines is helping achieve success in all areas. So, when asked what came first? Who cares? Three serious situations that revolve around each other are decreasing and my health is improving. The end game? In a year, I want to be running, off my CPAP and playing with my two-year-old daughter.

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