Carol Tishock

More than a better night's sleep

After receiving treatment for a pulmonary embolism in 2003, Carol Tishock continued to have problems with her breathing. Her physician put her on oxygen therapy, however, after a year of dealing with an oxygen tank, Carol felt worse instead of better. "Even walking a short distance would leave me huffing and puffing," she says. Just leaving her home became difficult.

Whenever Carol went out, she started planning places to sit down and rest at different intervals. "I started to think that maybe I just wasn't going to get better and gradually gave up most of the things I enjoyed," remembers Carol.

After another battery of tests and therapies, Carol was referred to Michael Flatley, MD, a pulmonologist and critical care physician at the Aurora Wilkinson Medical Clinic in Summit. Dr. Flatley recommended a sleep study. "My first experience did not go well. I just couldn't sleep well away from home," Carol admits. The sleep center staff asked for Carol's input and worked with her to create a more comfortable atmosphere. "They went out of their way to accommodate and support what worked for me," adds Carol. She repeated the sleep study successfully and was diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Carol was set up and fitted with a CPAP machine in November, 2011. "It definitely took some time to get used to," says Carol. "I think it was more psychological than physical discomfort." By the time the new-year came around, Carol couldn't believe how good she was feeling. "Before using the CPAP, I would wake up in the morning lethargic and sluggish. I had to talk myself into getting up," she says. "Now I wake up ready to go. It is like I was wearing a heavy coat and someone has taken it off."

Around the time of her sleep study, Carol was also diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. She attends pulmonary rehabilitation twice a week at the Aurora Wilkinson Medical Clinic in Summit. "The combination of CPAP and rehab has been fantastic," says Carol. "Because of the CPAP I feel rested, optimistic and encouraged. That attitude has carried over to my rehab and has allowed me to improve my strength, my breathing and my stamina." Recently Carol went shopping with her daughter. "We shopped for three hours straight and I didn't need to sit down once," she recalls.

At 79 years old, Carol is getting back to the activities she had given up. "Even grocery shopping had become a burden. I would grab a few necessities and get home before I ran out of breath and energy," she remembers. "Now when I shop, I can wander up and down the aisles, relax and take my time. I also walk for fun and for exercise and use a pedometer to keep track of my steps."

"You get out of it, what you put in," says Carol. With the help of sleep testing, CPAP therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation, Carol has gained a renewed enthusiasm and outlook on enjoying life.

There are 11 Aurora Sleep Medicine Centers throughout eastern Wisconsin. Find one in your community and begin your journey to a better night's sleep.