My Story, by Logan Hetland

Hi my name is Logan Hetland. I am 28 years old. I live on a farm in eastern South Dakota. I was diagnosed with narcolepsy at age 18 or 19 after having a sleep study completed. I was going to technical school for license practical nurse at the time when I was diagnosed. Funny thing is about two weeks prior to my sleep study we briefly talked about narcolepsy in psychology class. When I read the definition of narcolepsy, I was like oh my gosh this is me!! This is exactly how I feel!! Two weeks later it was confirmed. My life has been changed for the better ever since!

I started with symptoms when I was in middle school for sure. My first doctor’s theory was that I had a mild case of meningitis that caused swelling to my brain and permanent damage. He is now retired, but his theory seems very likely for me. When I was around middle school age I got sick one weekend and ran a 106 fever. My mom freaked!! If I remember right they diagnosed me with strep and treated me with an antibiotic.

I struggled in school and being able to enjoy average activities of a teenager. My mom was my high school science teacher. She typically only lectured for 15 minutes and I would have a hard time staying awake during that time. I had to re-teach myself so much in school and work twice as hard. I still accomplished to be a very good student and graduated with honors. I received many scholarships, but it wasn’t easy. My friends made fun of me and took pictures of me sleeping. One year for homecoming my friends and I dressed up as the seven dwarfs. I of course was sleepy. My best friend from school now feels so bad for picking and teasing me all those years.

My parents were very hard on me about falling asleep all the time. I got called lazy a lot! I didn’t go out hardly ever at night if I had to drive myself, because I knew I would have to worry about making it home. Plus having to function the next day for school, work, sports or just helping on the farm. I would tell my friends that dad said no to going out, but in reality I never even asked. Everyone just thought it was “Logan.” I would always say that I couldn’t help it and that something is wrong with me.

When I was in high school I had thyroid testing, allergy testing and an at home sleep study done prior to finally figuring out what was wrong with me in college. Finally having a diagnosis was such a relief! Finally proving to my parents that I wasn’t lazy or trying to be deceitful. By that time I think they knew for sure that wasn’t the case. It was also proof to myself that I wasn’t just lazy!

After we got the results, my dad was mad that someone didn’t point this out sooner. He was also frustrated that we had never heard anything about narcolepsy prior. Until this past year I had never met anyone else with narcolepsy or ever saw anything about it on social media.

Now to the happy parts of my life that have come from or with narcolepsy. I married my high school sweetheart when I was 21. We started dating when I was just 15 and he was 17. I believe God sent him to me, because he has been so patient and understanding through this journey. He has been my rock on days when I struggled to see the positive. Not many high school boys would put up with a girl that fell asleep all the time. I call him my chauffeur.

Shortly after we got married we were at my narcolepsy appointment. We were told that I would have to go off all my medications if/when we decided to have kids. After that we prayed like crazy for God to bless us with a family. I always said that it didn’t have to be biological. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to drive if I was able to become pregnant. I also didn’t know if I would want to work direct patient care as a nurse. All of this stemmed from my fears of hurting another person due to my narcolepsy. I tried not to fear and give all my fears to the Lord, but that is very hard. God shut many doors that weren’t right for me along the way. I can now see that looking back.

About two months from our fifth wedding anniversary I started a job from home as a patient care coordinator with the same company that I had been working for the past five years. It was a new position in the company and it was the answer to our prayers!! I got to work from home and keep my nursing license.

Very shortly after starting my new job I stopped my narcolepsy medications and we started trying to conceive a baby. On our fifth wedding anniversary I got to announce to my husband that we were expecting!!

I was very worried how I would be able to handle pregnancy with narcolepsy. When “normal” women complain about being so tired, how was I going to handle it. Again, I started praying that God would bless us with a safe and healthy pregnancy. I am happy to tell you that it actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it could be. The first trimester was horrible. I would take a nap during my lunch break, as soon as I was done with work and after supper, but it improved.

When I said earlier that my husband is my chauffeur I wasn’t joking. Once I went off my medications he drove me everywhere. My family and his parents were great to help him out. I often joked that I was a kid being bused from one stop to the next

My biggest struggle with my pregnancy was controlling my weight. I gained 60-70 lbs. I ate healthy and exercised. I even kept a food diary. Part of it I think is genetics. My mom gained 40lbs with all four kids and she ran 4 miles a day. I believe the biggest thing was having narcolepsy and going off my medications. I was having low energy, motivation and metabolism due to lack of sleep. Thankfully my glucose was beautiful throughout the pregnancy and I had a healthy, safe delivery.

I am now blessed with an almost seven month old beautiful baby girl, Charlee Jo. She has been such a blessing and worth the wait. I continue to be off medications, because I am breastfeeding. I also continue to struggle with the weight I have gained. I can tell that I am losing it, but it is coming off much slower than I anticipated. I continue to work hard.

Since my diagnosis I have been on three different medications. I was started on provigil until it made my eyes quiver. Then they started me on Xyrem. Later on they added Ritalin. Xyrem by far has made me feel the best and most “normal.”

I hope people take from my story that God is good all the time. Even in the midst of hard times He is right there with you. We all have our struggles, some are just more noticeable than others. I encourage you to see the positive in every situation.

Thank you for listening to my story! I hope it can help someone else.