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Episode 100 - Emma Cooksey on the Sleep Tech Talk Podcast


Hey there, it’s Emma Cooksey here and I'm your host.

So we've reached 100 episodes of this podcast which I can hardly believe and it's been three years since I started recording these podcasts and I had no idea of anybody who would listen and it turns out there's a bunch of you out there who are in the same situation who have sleep apnea and you're trying to navigate all the different treatment options.


So I'm so grateful to all of the people who have been interviewed on the podcast cast and I'm especially grateful to all of you who listen, I really appreciate all of you.

So today for the hundredth episode as some of, you know, I'm on a trip right now to Scotland but I wanted to make sure that this episode was ready to go.


And so I was a guest recently on the Sleep Tech Talk podcast which was really fun.

And so we came across the idea that I could use my interview on their podcast As my hundredth episode.

So it's going to be a little bit different and there's an awful lot more of me talking than usual, but I hope you guys enjoy it.


So here is my conversation on the Sleep Tech top podcast.

All right, folks, a quick message before we get started from our sponsors react Health, we have helped formerly 3B medical.


A leading provider of sleep, sleep, Diagnostic, and respiratory problems.

Now, back to the show, all right gents, it's another episode and that means it's time for pre Cal's.

What do we have today?

Jerry, we have Emma Cooksey joining us.


You know, Emma's we all met her at Philadelphia sleep.

She is a ton of passion and energy for sleep in general, sleep patients.

And and you know what, she what we learned about are there and I'm looking forward to hearing about Today because her background is just really someone who fell in love with the need to get out there and meet people.


And, and I think it would be fun to hear about that today.


I'm intimidated.

But any any time we have another podcast host on our on our show, it's a you know it's a little intimidating we got to you know we got to bring our a game today but she is she is so energetic and and you know I know listening to her podcast I knew of her but I didn't really have not really listen to a podcast until we met her in Philadelphia and since then I have regularly tried to listen to her show, I'm trying to catch up.


She's got a You know, a bunch of episodes to go through and you know she just a she is a great communicator and the way she connects with people is pretty special.

I agree with that.

And you know you guys probably know this already because I drink Scotch.


I have I have that affection towards her as well because she's from Scotland, so all the more reason for me to listen to what she has to say.

So, I'm excited about this.

Is that a stretch Emerson that?

He just, he just, I don't know.

People say, God, I'm speechless.


I'm trying to, but I got nothing.

He's going to show up in a kilt for the next time.

Hey, I've got a kill.

So, just to let you know.

All right, I think we're bringing our A-game.


Let's get started.

All right, all right, onto the show.



Welcome, everyone.

Once again to another episode of sleep Tech talk BC, podcast with your host and friends.

I must incur, Robert Miller and me, dr.

Gerald George money.

Corrode with another fabulous, guest for you today.


But before we talk about, who the guest is, it just want to remind everybody.

Don't forget to hit the like button.

Don't forget to subscribe.

And most importantly, don't forget to share this with all your Her friends, all sleep text out there.

It's because you we've been growing and we can't, we can't appreciate you guys enough for that.


But with that being said, Emerson, what's going on today?

Jerry, thanks, we have a fantastic guest with us today and we could see we had the great Fortune of all, three of us, getting to spend a little time with Emma in Philadelphia at Michaels, Philadelphia's sleep meeting.


Just a, just a short time ago and a little bit about Emma, she is of project sleep, where she is a board member, and she hosts a really entertaining and informative podcast, sleep apnea stories.


And we're just so fortunate to have you with us today.

And one of the things that the three of us talked about all the time, with all of our guests at even for ourselves is how we got into sleep medicine and and just the Sleep industry, for the three of us, we kind of fell into it backwards.


We were not planning on this being our life.

And we fall in love with it.

And from what we know about you so far, you have a sincere love for sleep.

But how did you get here?

Could you share with our listeners, your story, and how you got involved in sleep, I've loved you.


Thank you so much for having me.

I really appreciate it, and so I always have to start off by saying that I'm from Scotland originally, because if I don't say that people spend the whole time that I'm talking just being like she Canadian Be a bit of Irish so I was born and raised in Scotland.


I started having some symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea while I was in Scotland, but I knew nothing about it and had no understanding of sleep disorders or what really what healthy sleep look like, even.


So I kind of just struggled with things like daytime, sleepiness morning headaches.

And I just never had that feeling of being refreshed and waking up in the morning ready to go.

I mean to be fair, a lot of the time especially through my student days like you're staying up late.


There's some drinking.

So I think that a lot of people around me seemed very tired and it seemed very normal.

So I kind of went on like that.

All through my twenties, I went to a lot of doctors and said, I'm exhausted.


I'm overwhelmed.

I'm anxious.

I'm you know, really tired and it seems like every stage of my life.

There was a reason that the doctor could point to, to say, I don't think it's a problem with your sleep.


I think that you're stressed or you're not sleeping enough or you know like it was a I feel like every time in my life it was either I was pregnant.

Or I had a new baby all these things.

So I kind of just knew that there was something not right and especially like towards the end of my 20s, I started realizing like there's something might be something wrong with my sleep, but I didn't have the language to really explain that to a doctor.


So I met my husband, in Scotland and we got married and then he's from Florida.

So we moved to Florida 15 years ago And shortly after I had our first child and even though I've been to a doctor really recently and said, I'm really tired and they said you have a new baby.


That's why you're tired.

And I find myself falling asleep at the wheel with my baby in the car.

And I'd felt sleepy driving test multiple times before but I've never had my baby in the back seat and that day that I fell.


Fleet fell on fell asleep.

I almost hit a truck.

And that was really like the impetus to to ask more questions and be more persistent with the healthcare providers.


I've seen, so that prompted me to go back and say, I know you just said I'm tired because I have new baby but this doesn't seem normal and I fell asleep at the wheel and that was enough to get a polysomnogram and get my knossos with obstructive sleep apnea.


So that was in 2008 and I immediately was put on CPAP, I am did okay with CPAP, it made me feel and better during the day because it felt like I was getting oxygen to my brain.


I didn't have morning headaches anymore.

That really intensely penis when I was driving went away and I was so, you know, I was really bad.

Fold that, you know, to be on that treatment.

But at the same time, I felt very alone and isolated.


I didn't know any other young mums that had this thing.

Sleep apnea, I didn't really know anyone like that.

Every so often someone would say, oh, my Uncle, Barry has that.

And he has a CPAP, but I don't really feel like I could kind of relate to Uncle Barry.


Like, I don't have that much in common with him.

So, for a long time, I always had this feeling of Of there must be some Community out there, you know, I'm not, I find things online but I never really had that sense of connection.

So I always thought to myself in the back of my mind.


I should like start a blog or do something just to share my experience and meet some other people in the same situation.

And so I listen to a lot of podcasts and so I think it was always in the back of my mind, like, having a podcast would be cool.

And and then I started kind of Looking for a podcast that were what I was wanting to listen to you, like other people with sleep apnea, sharing their stories, and I couldn't find that.


And so in the summer of 2020, I had my kids home because of the pandemic and I was looking for any sort of project where I could shut the door.

And, you know, have my own projects and be like, I can't talk to you for an hour.


So that was what that was kind of sleep apnea stories.

My podcast was born and I just had a lot of questions about, you know, different treatment options.

Like I kind of read a little bit about oral, Appliance therapy and Inspire and all these different things that I didn't really know much about.


So when I started I I just thought, well, maybe people out there interested to know, you know, hear stories from people who are using those kind of alternative treatments to see that.

So that's kind of how I started.

With the podcast and and then it just like snowballs.


So I just started doing like a weekly podcast and I interviewed a lot of different people and about their own personal Journeys with sleep apnea.

And I also was able to interview some experts from different areas and have them talk about like, you know, their own particular part of the puzzle.


And, and then in January 2021.

I joined the board of directors at project sleep and who are doing some real, this nonprofit who are doing some really great work around, raising awareness of sleep disorders.


And so, since I've been involved with them, we've been you know, really pushing for more research funding for Sleep Disorders, in Washington DC and doing a lot to try and raise awareness, and the general public advice.



So that was kind of a little bit.

Just that explain it a little bit.

Yeah, absolutely.

That's fantastic.

You know, one of the parts of your story that stands out to me is something I hear a lot is, you know, when you think about sleep apnea, it was really guys like me that were the test subjects that it was based on older white men.


And so that leaves up younger white men, men of color women.

I mean a lot of other phenotypes.


And so when you when you began this journey and I mean, how many Any more women?

Did you run into that?

Had that same story.

Okay, you're a mom, your wife, you're supposed to be tired and even themselves.


It wasn't.

It's not even just that.

They're the, they're told that they just simply believe.

Yeah, I'm a, I'm a chauffeur, I'm a housekeeper, I'm a cook, I'm everything.

How do you have?

How did you begin to piece those together and then connect with women, like yourself?


Honestly, that's most people that I've are most women that I've met through this process.

Slight, most people are going more than 10 years to diagnosis because they are told by medical professionals.

You don't fit the criteria that we generally look for and I think it is a lot.


What you said about how you know when the research started it was very much looking at this phenomenon and older man who are in the sort of overweight like that kind of category and there's so many Many of us who don't really fit that and especially people who, you know, have compromised Airways because of you know the way that our Jaws didn't develop properly and so I think that's a whole nother like I think I feel like half halfway through my first year on the podcast.


I fell down that rabbit hole where there were people talking about double jaw surgery and myofunctional there.

Poppy and ways to kind of fix these structural problems, which I think up till now, we haven't really heard about in relation to sleep apneas much.


And of course, in for you as part of your story, you talked about that you did okay with CPAP to start without having you've been, you know, treated icing for a long time.

Now, how is CPAP these days for you.

So I'm just, I feel like in some ways, I'm the poster child for everything that could possibly be going wrong.


So my nose doesn't work.

So, I'm still kind of at that.

I probably should have like a turbinate reduction and a septoplasty and all these things.

I have a tiny nose.

So as we know, having nasal obstruction is not the best thing for successful CPAP use.


So I've used CPAP every night for 15 years and I would say, like, nasal mass and nasal pillow mask, just don't work for me because of my nose doesn't work.

So should I fix my nose?



And but for now well I don't I just don't really fancy that but I feel like that probably will be in my future at some point because for me, Being able to use a nasal pillows mask or a nasal mask.


I mean you're supposed to use your nose when you're breathing, right?

So I think it would be better but that's kind of where I'm at.

So I just happen to work for a CPAP manufacturer back in the day.

All three of us actually work together.


A mercenary and I had a CPAP machine.

I thought I would try it for a couple of days to see what my patients were going through.

And after a few days I was like, oh my My God, I feel better.

So it's like, okay, I guess I'm a CPAP user now.


Yeah, it is just realizing like the range of experiences with CPAP, right?

And I mean, like I described I I mean, I wouldn't miss a night just because I had that Harry experience of falling asleep at the wheel, and this therapy has stopped that level of Daytime sleepiness, so I just won't be without it.


But having said all that, like I feel as though until I started my podcast and start just talking to a bunch of different people with different experiences.

The only patients I ever heard were these people who just have a wonderful experience, like they, and I've interviewed a ton of those people on the podcast, where they get their CPAP, and then the next day, they're like, oh gosh, like You know, the birds are singing.


The colors are brighter were so thrilled and which is great because that is the experience of a lot of people, but I think what were sometimes missing is the rest of us.

Like, either the people like me who are diligently using our CPAP, but maybe are not experiencing quite that level of, you know, Delight in the morning and well rested - plus the other.


That we just kind of label non-compliant and we don't really dig into like what exactly is going on with those people.

So that's been really interesting to me just to really ask the questions of people you know like to try and figure out like hot.


Why aren't they using the therapy?

So I feel like oftentimes especially when I go to conferences, it's all like charts and graphs like you know, these number people are Aren't using CPAP and we're not maybe digging into the stories behind those numbers.


So, one particular one was a recent episode, I did with a guy called Jody Martin, who is a Marine Corps veteran, one of my favorite episodes, I cried, he cried everybody, listening cried.


I got the most number of emails about that episode.

So he described his experience where he had really severe sleep apnea.

He was desperate for how he was really, you know, one at this to work for him and he just struggled so much in the beginning with are Aphasia and swallowing a lot of air, which would then make him vomit in the middle of the night.


And then his, his nasal pillars mask, just didn't fit.

And so at one point, he was like bleeding from his nose.

So he's kind of describing like the, you know, worst-case scenario where all of this This is happening that, you know, your like he wants to be compliant or you know, like but he just is having such a tough time and the story ended really well with him getting help that you needed and changing some things.


And now he's happily back in the bed with his wife and all of that.

But I think that those are helpful stories just for especially for Sleep text to maybe know about, you know, the things that people struggle with I love that.


I thought I was going to ask, how do you, how do you get your guests?

How are you able to come up with the guest to, you know, for us, it's a little bit different because we just find people who are in the industry.

I mean, today, I feel like you're not a guest today.

Your co-host of the Sleep Tech talk program, so we just added another to them.


But for us, it's getting people who are involved in the industry from a clinical or sales or a manufacturer.


But, you know, these are the patients who are at the far end of all of the things that we've been a part of talking about so far.

So how are you able to get your guests?


And I'm going to have to listen to that episode.

But I am a crier to so I'll probably cry.


Oh my gosh.

I cry so much and people cry so much.

It's it's, I mean, I went, I was going to say it's my favorite thing, but I just feel like, you know, connecting with people and then feeling comfortable enough to cry.


Just makes me feel like I'm doing a good job.

So, Where do I find my gas?

Well, this is kind of an interesting one that I was thinking about recently, because I just had the first guess, I interviewed back on for an update.

So the first guess I interviewed was Karen Walt and she a connection with her because I wanted to interview someone that had had the Inspire and plant the hypoglossal nerve stimulator and and so I literally was like inspiring Glam person and she was doing a bunch of interviews because she was an ambassador for them, like they have and volunteers, who share their story with with other patients, thinking of getting the therapy.


So, I connected with her just literally off of the internet and but I feel like I started my Instagram.

I can't sleep apnea stories, right?

At the same time as the podcast, and I think that over time, So many people were kind of reaching out and I would just ask is that if you want to come on and tell their story.


So, just all.

So now that's like, people just find me some highlights and, you know, especially if I, I'll ask the people that are listening, you know, like these are the particular topics people are asking about.


And so, if you are somebody who's dealing with this, like, please get in touch with me, and I seem to To be I basically can't keep up at this point.

Like the first six months, I was kind of like, well, like I just kind of kept asking, you know, like it wasn't, it was kind of crazy like how things came up, like I would go to conferences and I saw, I was on like a bunch of Facebook groups, with other patients and Does that help answer that?



No, it's perfect.

And by the way we might have to have you join our merry band.

We've become a three-party speaker group.

I think these days we're going to be speaking at the Smoky Mountains, sleep conference sometime in October the three of us.

So once that I want to come, you got it, you got it.


And I might have a spot on the Carolina sleep Society agenda which is in Myrtle, Beach in October so that's not Yes.

Oh really well.

I mean it is but like you know, in terms of like the whole of the United States, I just have someone talking to me about doing something in San Francisco and I'm like, I'm in Northeast Florida.


So no more.

Oh, but you just know that bar?

Yeah, that's fantastic.

But yeah, sign me up.

I love to anything where, you know, I can kind of amplify patient voices and speak.


That's my favorite thing and I got involved.

Like so one of the things that project sleep to is a program called Rising voices.

So it started out life as rising voices of narcolepsy.

And the idea is to empower patients to tell their stories and so one of the first things I did, when I joined the board was help them.


Them adapt that program to other Sleep Disorders.

So I helped them kind of adjust the program materials for sleep apnea, I was the first person to do it, do the program with sleep apnea and it's like six weeks and you you know, home your story and work on like how to give engaging talks and I think the whole program is great because it's kind of geared around the fact that people get really drawn into stories and storytelling.


Rather than I think, you know, if you just giving people information, they kind of can make it relate to themselves, you know?

So and in the fourth year, it gets us off.

And I see him, I see him hitting the unmute, but they're, you know, back in the day, DME companies across the country used to have what are called awake meetings which were support groups for patients on CPAP.


It's almost like your show is the national await meeting.

It's almost like the could be the National support group for patients, who are on CPAP and are able to listen and hear the things that other people are dealing with.

I'm a great CPAP where but I still struggle at times with different issues, you know, if the math gets situated one way and you know, I may wake up with my nose sore or something.


You know, that nature means that even people who are great and adherent CPAP users still have their own challenges, I'm eating my Like, you know, don't even talk to me about the week when we have in Florida we have this like yellow pollen that comes off of these certain trees and that week is just horrendous and so it's been 15 years and if I had a solution to that, I would, you know, I'm taking all the drugs and doing all the things but it's just awful.


So I think sometimes it helps like just to know like especially I'm sure they cover this and The awake groups but like just to know the other people take a while to get used to this therapy and not expecting to have like this miraculous great night sleep, the first night and just that it takes some time, you know, I think can be really helpful and itself.


Well, and I'd love to continue the conversation, but we are out of time.

And as Robert said, yeah, Jerry was itching to hit the unmute button, but loved really, really continue.

It's been fascinating to see a different side of what we do here.


And yeah you can you can definitely call yourself the fourth member of our merry crew here.

So I love that.

Where can people find you?

And your podcast?



So the best place, Probably a is my website, which is sleep apnea,, and that has all the podcast episodes.


There's almost 100 I'm coming up on my 100th episode.

So, you can scroll all the, the different apps has there and you can also find the podcast on all the different platforms.

So Apple podcast just search, sleep apnea stories Spotify, all the different ones, and then if people are on Instagram, You can follow me at sleep, apnea stories as the handle.



Thank you so much and I appreciate you.

Thank you.

And we thank each and every one of you out there who are listening, who are watching.

We thank you so much for joining us and we can't do this without your support.

We're growing and growing and growing.


And it's all because of, you don't forget to hit the like button.

Don't forget to share, most importantly, share, and don't forget to subscribe and until next time, and the next episode we say, lights on.

All right, folks, a quick message from our sponsors react, Health, react Health formerly, 3B medical, a leading provider of sleep, sleep, Diagnostic, and respiratory products.


Now back to the show, all right?

That's another show another rap.

It's time for some post.

Cows, would you guys think Lemma is everything?

We thought, you know, the story, the background, what she's doing it.

Just it's amazing and she's like, She's almost like a lot of our entrepreneurs that we've come across, she saw a need in the market.


So I need in herself stepped up took what she had and is really created something special for the Sleep Community.

I agree, and I love the way Robert.

You alluded it to the to the awake group.


I had started one here in Houston, Texas.

And it really, it really resonated when you said That she's able to bring all these people together to talk about the actual issues, those sleep apnea stories, you know, to do to take to take the namesake of her podcast, but to discuss what they're going through to discuss what they're going through each and every night.


And to be able to say hey I'm also going through this, it's okay, this is normal, you don't have to fight through it.

Let's let's all work together.

I thought that was really amazing to see that somebody like her was able to put together.

Whether something like that.

Yeah, I think that that her ability to be transparent about her own issues and challenges and struggles, and, and allowing herself to be vulnerable to an audience.


Is, it's pretty incredible.

I mean, to think, I can't even imagine where we would have to go.

I mean, we're kind of a bunch of Knuckleheads, but to get to a place where we have a guest, who's, you know, in tears and we're in, Years because of the content of the show, you know.


So maybe I don't know that we could completely get there.

But, you know, it just shows how special she is and how what she's doing is so much needed.

If there's so much authenticity in her and I think you know, everyone's hungry for that and anything and she brings that to our show, you can tell she brings it to our podcast and even hearing her speak live and you know in Philadelphia she just can't help but bring that authenticity that pass.



And like you said, vulnerability, people are hungry for that and when they hear it, they connect with it and it just it ignites things.

And people that's just just like some of our other guests.

We've had it just build something inside them for Change.

And that's, that's exciting to hear, you know, that great about and, you know, some of the Inspire patients becoming ambassadors it.


If I was a CPAP manufacturer, I would have Emma could see as my Ambassador for sleep. in the, in the, in the universe for, you know, one of the manufacturers to, to scoop in the up and use her platform to, you know, help patients, who are, who are using CPAP Well, I think that's a great place to stop.


And it was it was fun to have her on the show.

I would love to see her.

Come back again and join us.

It would be fun.

I think.

Absolutely anytime.

All right.

Well with that, let's close folks out there.


Thank you so much once again for joining us.

And until next time we say, cheers, Well, I think that's a great place to stop.

And it was it was fun to have her on the show.

I would love to see her.

Come back again and join us.

It would be fun.

I think.

Absolutely anytime.

All right.

Well with that, let's close folks out there.

Thank you so much once again for joining us.

And until next time we say, cheers,

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