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Mesa, AZ

[M] Ambassador Joanne

Age Range 45-60

Got Inspire October 19, 2019

Before Inspire I was gasping for air and snoring loudly. My husband was the first to notice that I was gasping for air, and it made him nervous. I scheduled an appointment with an ENT to figure out what was going on. Until I knew I had OSA I was always sleeping in another room or on a chair. Once I received my diagnosis of OSA, my doctor had me wear an APAP machine. I was in disbelief and shock because I thought I was too young. I was told by my doctor that I needed to wear the APAP or I could go into cardiac arrest in my sleep. The doctor stated that the more you’re not managing your OSA those are years taken off your life. I tried the APAP for a few months and just could not tolerate the mask over my mouth and nose. To have this contraption across my face was extremely uncomfortable and the seal would break blowing fast air into my eyes. I tried multiple masks and different settings, but nothing worked. After 2 hours of wearing the mask, I would throw it to the floor feeling frustrated and defeated. I then learned about Inspire and went to a Community Health Talk and that’s when I made my decision. Inspire is what I wanted, and I just felt confident it was going to work for me. Unfortunately, it took two years of fighting with my insurance company to get them to approve the implant. They felt it wasn’t medically necessary. I tried to get a medical exception having multiple doctors write letters to the insurance company letting them know the importance of this life saving device and how it would help my health, but I was getting nowhere fast. No one was listening and now my health issues were becoming significantly worse as more time went by. I wasn’t sleeping enough hours in a night and showed zero Rem Sleep. I could not function and was falling asleep at the wheel while driving. That was a huge wakeup call and scary to say the least. I would have a conversation with people and doze in the middle of talking to them. My oxygen levels were dropping into the low 70’s which caused an Optic Stroke and I lost 80% of my vision in one eye, which is devasting. I was too tired to exercise, and my memory was failing causing me to think I was in early-stage Alzheimer’s. The only thing I could do was wait for the insurance company to make it a covered procedure or hope that my medical exception would come through. Well two years later and the insurance company finally decided Inspire would be a covered expense for the State of Arizona. I scheduled my surgery the day it was covered, October 1, 2019! The funny part of this story is 5 days after my Inspire implant surgery, the nurse at my insurance company who was working on my exception case told me she was still in the process of getting approval and she would keep me updated and informed. When I told her I already had the surgery, that it was approved, she was shocked with disbelief.

Interests: Anything having to do with family is what I love the most! I’m a Sicilian girl and family is the most important thing to me, and they are always top of my list! I love cooking, vacationing to beach destinations, taking walks, and reading love stories or murder mysteries! In addition to those things, I spend a lot of time volunteering and I love it! It is a passion of mine that brings so much joy and fulfillment to me to be able to help others. The word I use for me is “Volunesia,” it means “that moment you forget you’re volunteering to help change lives because it’s changing yours”! It’s an incredible feeling when you see happiness in someone’s face. In 2021 I received the Honorary Volunteer of the Year Award which I was so humbled by. I don’t do it for the accolades, I do it because I am so blessed in my life that I enjoy helping and giving to others! Volunteering for Inspire is what I’m supposed to do! To continue to help where I am needed.

Why I chose Inspire therapy to treat my sleep apnea: My health was deteriorating using an APAP machine that I could not tolerate. I knew that if I got Inspire it was going to save my life. I was only getting 2 hours a sleep at night and that wasn’t enough to function. I was falling asleep at the wheel; my oxygen was dropping into the low 70’s, which caused an Optic stroke and I lost 80% of my vision in one eye. I was too tired to exercise, and my memory was failing. Once I started Inspire within 3 months of activation, I was a successful patient! My energy level went from feeling like a 90-year-old to a young 20-year-old. My memory was improving, and I was now sleeping from 8 to sometimes 10 hours a night! I also lost 20 pounds because I had become active! I feel that my decision to get Inspire has made me feel young, energic and alive again. I couldn’t believe that this small device has given me a new life! My fountain of youth! I’m always in a good mood but to now be more active and healthier is my main reason. I now want to share my story so others who may be going through some of the issues I went through and give them a chance to live a healthier, longer life. Inspire isn’t just for me, it for my husband as well! He gets the benefits of me having a good night sleep to be a better wife and mother to our daughter. Inspire is for all couples who want to get back to their own bedroom and no more sleeping in another room! The first night I slept through the night my husband woke me up because I was sleeping so soundly. He thought I had passed in my sleep that’s how quiet I am now.

In a few short words, I would describe Inspire therapy as: “Inspire, My Fountain of Youth”! “Inspire saved my life but also changed my life in so many positive ways!”

Why am I a patient ambassador? I’m a Patient Ambassador because I love to help people! If I can tell people about my experience and how it has changed and saved my life, it gives me an opportunity to share my experience and help educate them to make their decision about Inspire. The Inspire Reps/Team has been with me from the beginning of my journey. Starting with the Community Health Talk, to insurance approval and my fight with them, to then helping me find a great, experienced doctor, being at the surgery center the day of my implant and every 2 weeks for my follow-up appointments to make sure I was taken care of to help with my success with Inspire. When you get this device implanted in your chest you have a great knowledge knowing you have the Inspire Team supporting your whole journey. The Inspire Team and my huge success is what made me want to educate others about how easy this surgery was but mostly the success of finally sleeping. There are many people who have health risks and hopefully, I can connect to these individuals to add years to their life! I want to let them know that Inspire is worth it as long as they are patient during the months to success. I feel I have been welcomed into the Inspire Family and they are all incredible people to volunteer for! We appreciate them as much as they appreciate us! Now that Inspire is getting more well known, being an ambassador means more now than ever because there are more people to educate and tell them about the benefits of Inspire and the importance of a good night’s sleep for them the patient, as well as the significant other! I love when I meet people out and about, or at a CHT, or a patient calls me through a doctor referral. We get to talk and once connection is made, I follow them through their journey, and now we become friends. We meet for breakfast or lunch, and I have now given them a contact so they can call me when they have a question instead of maybe calling the doctor. No, I can’t give medical advice but having that calming voice on the other end of the phone, they know I will find them the answer and that is extremely important to both of us. I love what I do for Inspire and I always walk away with this incredible feeling in my heart!

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