Riddrie man praises Glasgow Royal Infirmary team for help in battle against sleep apnoea

A WAR veteran has praised a specialist Glasgow Royal Infirmary (GRI) team for their support in his battle against sleep.

Hugh Docherty, a former soldier and veteran of the first Gulf War, first noticed after his service 20 years ago that sleep was becoming an issue and he was falling asleep while driving.

The 65-year-old said: “I was just nodding off at the wheel.

“It was frightening.

“I didn’t know what was happening at all, because I didn’t know I wasn’t getting a good sleep.”

Hugh Docherty

Hugh’s GP suspected there might be more to the problem than just being tired and referred him to the GRI’s Sleep Clinic.

An overnight test and supervised sleep sessions revealed the cause was sleep apnoea, a condition where your breathing stops and starts while sleeping.

Sleep apnoea often leads to people making gasping or choking noises while they sleep and leads to them feeling tired or sleepy during the day.

Glasgow Times: Hugh DochertyHugh Docherty

In order to treat the condition Hugh, who is from Riddrie, was introduced to the CPAP machine which provides air at a pressure just high enough to stop the collapse of the airway.

The air is provided through a mask that seals with the mouth or nose and allows the patient to breathe properly and sleep through the night without waking up.

Hugh said: “It takes a lot of perseverance.

“But it makes a huge difference once you get used to it.

“It allowed me to sleep during the night, so I could be awake during the day.”

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After his army service, Hugh spent 18 years working for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde as a deputy manager within the Health Records Department at the GRI.

Following his retirement, he is now looking forward to going on holiday, along with his CPAP machine.

Hugh said: “When you go on holiday, it comes with you in what looks like a wee laptop case – it becomes part of your everyday life.”

He added: “The team are really supportive, they are always there for you whenever you need anything.

“I want to thank everyone from the team who first looked after me right up until now.”

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Many people will recognise the term CPAP following the Covid-19 pandemic, with CPAP being one of the early interventions used to help hospitalised patients who needed additional oxygen support.

Lead sleep clinical psychologist from the team at GRI, Aileen Nicol, was called expertise to support Covid patients using her in CPAP.

Restrictions also meant face-to-face appointments at the Sleep Clinic were halted and Aileen and her team quickly adapted by sending out machines to patients and helping them set up the equipment via video consultations.

Aileen said: “Many of our patients stayed at home, shielding during Covid because of other health conditions, so doing things remotely has been hugely beneficial for many of them.

“It’s important because when the treatment works it makes a huge difference in patients’ lives.

“Instead of people dozing off, they are much brighter.

“They can continue driving and keep their license – and they’re tired at bedtime, instead of during the day.”

Glasgow Times: Dr Eric Livingstone and Aileen NicolDr Eric Livingstone and Aileen Nicol

Consultant and clinical lead at the Sleep Clinic, Dr Eric Livingston, said: “We are getting referrals from across the west of Scotland and the move to being able to provide these services at home has been a massive success.

“Our team have been great at making sure our service has continued throughout the pandemic, helping our patients to lead better lives.

“It’s a real team effort and I’m immensely grateful to Aileen and her colleagues for all that they do.”

Today, Friday, March 18, is World Sleep Day which is organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society and aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through prevention and management of sleep disorders.

The annual event is intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important related issues, such as medicine, education, social aspects and driving.

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