CPAP Adventures

I have a CPAP machine next to my bed now. I first mentioned it when I was talking about disasters a few days ago, and then I mentioned it again yesterday when talking about getting healthy.

What is a CPAP? First, it’s that little thing there to the right. I had a CPAP machine 4 years ago, almost to the day when I gave it up, and it was much larger than this thing you see. It was also much heavier; this thing weight almost nothing. And what you’re seeing is the heaviest part of the thing, because it comes with a small tank that holds water to help keep your nose and mouth moist when you’re using it while you’re sleeping.

Okay, more details first. CPAP stands for “continuous positive air pressure”, and basically the machine helps you breathe at night. Sleep apnea means you pretty much stop breathing during the night. It’s a little different from just snoring because when you stop breathing, your body starts to struggle a little bit to get you breathing again. It often starts before you get into the deepest sleep, and what this means is that you kind of wake up many times during the night. I say “kind of” because you probably don’t remember it most of the time. You might snore if you have sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores has it. And it can be life threatening; professional football player and Hall of Famer Reggie White passed away from it; that’s what initially got me thinking about it.

As I said, I had a machine back from near the end of 2005 into July or August of 2006. I kept having problems getting used to the different masks, it was heavy and getting on my nerves traveling with it, and frankly I didn’t feel all that much better after such a long time. The biggest problems I had then were the masks. The first mask I had must have leaked somehow, and it caused massive scarring on my face; couldn’t have that. The second mask kept blowing air into my eyes, and waking up every morning with at least one red eye certainly wasn’t pleasant. The final thing I went to was a nasal cannula type of mask, which you’d think would be nice and easy, but I kept having panic attacks, and thus wouldn’t sleep at all. It reminded me too much of sick people in the hospital; that just wouldn’t do at all. That’s the reason I gave it back.

Unfortunately for y’all, unless I knew you back in 2005 and 2006 you missed the entire story of the sleep test, then the subsequent dumping of the machine, as it went out through email. I can tell you that when I went back to the doctor this year, he had me take another overnight sleep test, and this time it went much smoother. Not as many wires, none wrapped around my neck, and the initial mask the guy put on me was fairly light. I obviously had some issues overnight, as the guy woke me up 5 times, but otherwise I made it through the night unscathed.

This is the mask I have now. It’s much different than previous masks because it covers my mouth and has the two things at the top that go into my nose. They never used to have masks that covered the mouth, and that was a major issue in the past because you’re supposed to keep your mouth closed, and if you don’t your throat can take a beating, and if you’re like me you’re still waking up all the time. They have this strap you can put around the top of your head and under your jaw, but trust me, not many people enjoy that at all. Now, if I open my mouth, the machine will still blow air into me.

Oh yeah, the air. What happens is you get tested to see if you have apnea. Then the doctor looks at all the results and estimates how much air pressure the machine should be blowing into you. If I knew what the pressure part meant I don’t think I could explain it, so I’ll just say that the higher the number, the higher the pressure. The machine starts low, which gives you a chance to get to sleep before it gets to its highest level, which is preset by the people you get the machine from. Get this; you can buy the machine (they’re not cheap), but by law, at least in the U.S., you can’t do anything with the pressure unless you get a prescription. That’s changed, because you used to be able to alter pressure but you weren’t allowed to buy the machines; I wish people would make up their mind. I don’t have to worry about it; seems it’s all covered 100% by insurance. 🙂

Anyway, so far I don’t feel much different. It affects people differently, it seems. Some start feeling great within a week, others it takes 90 days. Since I don’t have air blowing in my eyes anymore, I hope within a month that I can report I’m feeling better. I guess we’ll see. If you have any questions or comments, just talk.

SleePAP CPAP Pillow with Pillowcase

12 thoughts on “CPAP Adventures”

  1. WOW!. My father-in-law died from sleep apnea about 6 years ago. He was in his 50’s and since he worked all night and slept during the day his live-in girlfriend was at work when it happened. My dad told me he had surgery a few years ago for sleep apnea (didn’t know he had it until he told me this). I hope you start feeling a change for the better soon.

    1. Thanks Anne. I hope it starts making me feel better soon also, though I expect, since it’s me after all, that it’ll probably be at least 2 months.

  2. It would drive me crazy if I had to wear a mask, I find it difficult enough to sleep as it is. I hope it works for you. The previous problems you had with it sound horrendous.

    I understand about the nose cannula – when I go to the dentist I have IV sedation for a jaw problem (can’t open my mouth properly without it) but did try inhalation sedation first. I have a history of asthma (which I rarely get these days) and it just made me feel like I was suffocating and I also kept panicking.

    1. Last night was the first time I actually slept noise and air-leakage free, yet I still woke up way too early and was still tired. I think I have to stop drinking so much liquid in the evenings, which I do since I stay up so late. I thought I’d hate all masks myself, but since you get to determine how tight it is and the like, it’s not so bad, as they actually turn out to be more mobile and pliable than you might believe.

  3. Nope! If my life depended on that machine (mainly the mask) I would be a dead person!

    Too claustrophobic. I wouldn’t get any sleep at all. (Says she who only got one hour of sleep last night!)


    1. Althea, I said the same thing years before I had to start injecting myself with insulin, as I was, and still am, afraid of needles. You find that your desire to live is greater than brave words when the time comes, especially if you feel you have something to live for. Yeah, I said it! 🙂

  4. I can not imagine to sleep with this on my head, probably will be impossible. I hope it helps you. Even the ultra modern CPAP looks like elephants, but it is not funny, a friend of my shared with me that it helps him to stop snoring.

    1. Jake, we try whatever we must to feel better, and I really need for this to work for me. So far I’m doing okay with the mask; it’s not easy to get used to, but there are far worse things… like not surviving.

  5. I was about to say that this would be perfect for my dad as he has trouble breathing during the night, but then I read about the mask.

    He wouldn’t be able to sleep with a mask on his face.

    1. You never know, Dean. Was your dad in the service? If so then he’s tougher than you might imagine. And as I said, they have different types.

  6. My husband’s aunt has to wear one of those. I didn’t know you had sleep apnea. I hope you start feeling a change soon Mitch. You sure have a lot of health problems too. The joys of aging eh?

    1. Luckily, except for the diabetes, they’re kind of minor health problems when compared to what other people are dealing with.

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