Kristine Beck had no idea what was happening to her, but something was badly wrong. In April 2018, the mum-of-two was sleeping 14 hours a night, then having to take naps just to get though the day. She told Ryan Tubridy that change came on suddenly.
“I went from being a little bit tired to not being able to stand.”
There were other strange symptoms too. Kristine was basking in a wave of happiness, watching her baby take his first steps, when her knees suddenly buckled and she keeled over. There were times when she couldn’t hold a fork, her speech became slurred and she suffered sudden bouts of temporary paralysis.
“It did look like I was drunk a lot of the time.”
In July of this year, Kristine was diagnosed with type one narcolepsy with cataplexy. Her journey to this point has not been easy. When she first approached her GP, blood tests revealed nothing; there is currently no blood test for narcolepsy. A chance meeting with a respiratory specialist in A&E pointed Kristine in the right direction. Her excessive sleepiness is due to narcolepsy, her shakiness and temporary paralysis is due to the related condition of cataplexy.
Desperate to alleviate her symptoms, Kristine was faced a long wait for a place on a sleep study. A serious fall when she was home alone with her two small children, led to the process being expedited. She needed surgery after her fall and her orthopaedic surgeon was helpful in getting her to see a sleep specialist so that she could start a treatment programme.
These days, Kristine is planning her wedding, but she still has concerns. The condition is incurable, but treatable. She takes one medication to help with daytime wakefulness and another to give her a better night’s sleep. Narcoleptics fall asleep easily, but often don’t get restful sleep at night. She’s worried about how she’ll manage on the big day:
“How do you schedule naps on your wedding day?”
World Narcolepsy Day is on Sunday 22nd September and Kristine is keen to raise awareness by talking about the condition, and that of cataplexy. She says there’s a lot more to it than people think.
“It’s not that Hollywood-style fall asleep in your cornflakes, or fall asleep head down in the dinner table.”
Find out more about both aspects of Kristine’s condition in the full interview here.
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