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Taking flight with Inspire® therapy

Jerome Hewlett
By Anthony Iozzo
Published on June 5, 2024

Jerome Hewlett is no stranger to travel. Hewlett lives in the Seattle area today and travels around the world almost every week as a CFO of a startup satellite communications company. He also lived in London and Singapore and has spent much of his life seeing much of the globe. But his adventuring lifestyle was not always easy due to his obstructive sleep apnea. Hewlett spent years being tired, and it goes beyond spending so much time hopping through time zones. A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine was not working for Hewlett, and it made his travels more difficult.  A lack of quality sleep was affecting his daily life, but help was on its way when he later qualified and received the Inspire® implant. Hewlett, who stopped breathing 17 times per hour, is now only having four or five episodes an hour. He is waking up rested, refreshed and ready to conquer wherever the next trip takes him. “I sleep through the night,” Hewlett said. “I’m more alert. I have motivation to go to the gym. The meetings are crisp, and if I have to stay up late, it’s not a problem.” The other options available to Hewlett didn’t help when he was first diagnosed with OSA. He tried surgery to remove his uvula and palate, which brought temporary relief until the sleep apnea symptoms returned a few months later. That was disheartening, he said. Hewlett sought out another sleep doctor when he settled in Seattle, this time agreeing to try CPAP.

Jerome Hewlett often travels on red eye flights to countries like Singapore and can sleep comfortably with Inspire, allowing him to have energy for meetings, client outings and leisure activities like playing golf.

CPAP is very effective at treating sleep apnea for those who can tolerate it, but there are those who don’t get consistent benefits or cannot use it at all. Hewlett was one of the patients who had trouble. He said his experience was a “nightmare,” especially with his job duties. Between packing the machine, finding somewhere to plug it in on an airplane for long-haul flights,

locating adaptors so it would work in other countries and tracking down distilled water, he fought through many restless nights. “You go into business meetings, and you’re not at your sharpest,” Hewlett said. “They tend to run late because you are going out to dinner, and you’re just always exhausted because you’re not sleeping. It really did affect everything that I was doing.” But everything changed when Hewlett’s close friend Roger Zundel – an ear, nose and throat doctor – informed him of an innovative treatment option called Inspire. Hewlett’s interest was piqued, and he did extensive research before moving forward.  Inspire works inside your body while you sleep and is a small device placed during an outpatient procedure. While you sleep, Inspire moves your tongue forward and opens the airway muscles allowing you to breathe normally. “I thought it was the greatest thing I ever heard of,” Hewlett said. “[Dr. Zundel] started telling me about this, and that is when I jumped in and started doing all my research. I was just like, ‘Oh wow! This is real, and this is exciting.’” He was impressed by the success rate of the device and began the process of getting approved. He was given the go-ahead and implanted in December 2020 by Dr. Zundel. Hewlett now continues to travel internationally for his job, but without all the exhaustion. Instead, he turns on his Inspire and can sleep on flights. All he carries is his Inspire remote and an extra set of batteries. There is an adjustment period with Inspire as a patient moves up levels, and the doctor then helps find the best therapeutic level. This period varies from patient to patient, but for Hewlett, he said he noticed a difference right away. “The very first night when I fell asleep, the next day when I woke up, I didn’t have the mask on and could tell that I slept,” Hewlett said. Hewlett noticed in the next few months how much better he was feeling, and the follow-up sleep study confirmed the results. But the best thing for Hewlett is that he isn’t the only one getting better sleep. “I have a small little dog and she likes to sleep on the bed, and I think she is enjoying this just as much,” Hewlett said. “Before [Inspire], I used to be tossing and turning but even last night, I went to bed at 10-10:30 and woke up around 6 and I didn’t move. She was lying between my legs and was out the whole night. I think even my dog is getting better rest.”

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