My doctor sent me to a pulmonologist about a month ago to check to see if I had sleep apnea. He set me up with an at home test to see if I did, and if so, how severe.
The results are in and it’s official. I have sleep apnea! According to the doctor, I stop breathing an average of 16 times an hour, which is considered moderate sleep apnea. His recommendation was to start using a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. Sleep apnea occurs when your airway collapses when you breath in. By continuously blowing air into your airway, it can’t collapse, and you continue to breath.
My doctor referred me to a company that supplies and monitors your sleep apnea machine. Regional Home Care called me and set up an appointment to come to my home. A very nice gentleman named Jason arrived with the knowledge and equipment that I would need to have.
The Dream Machine
Jason brought me a Philips Respironics DreamStation with Humidifier. He then began to explain everything about it. How to use it, which mask I should use, how to clean it, and the many functions it has.
First he determined that he thought a nasal pillow mask would work best for me. I laughed when he said I’d need a size small! Finally, I’m a small in something!
He explained how to clean the machine, and change the filter. The benefits of the humidifier and how to maintain it. We talked about how by putting in the wifi information, when I use it, for how long, and other measurements would be sent to the Regional Care facility so that they can make sure it’s all the right fit and settings for me. For example, if the nasal pillow mask didn’t work for me for any reason, there were other options like the full mask or the nasal mask.
Trying it on for the first time wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Jason had told me to just try it out while reading or watching T.V. the first time. After putting it on and pressing start, it wasn’t bad at all, so I decided to try to sleep. I slept for about 3 hours that first night, and then decided that was enough for the first time. Since then, I’ve worn it every night, all night. Of course, all night for me is about 5 hours. Midnight to 5 a.m. is about all I sleep normally. But that’s usually including a bathroom trip at about 3 a.m. I no longer wake in the middle of the night needing the bathroom. I sleep straight through.
The oddest thing for me is how it feels when you open your mouth while the machine is on. It’s like a rush of air comes out of your mouth, and it’s very difficult to talk. Having been a “mouth-breather” all of my life, I thought that it would be hard to keep it closed while sleeping. It isn’t. Apparently my mouth was open due to necessity only. It is no longer a necessity, so it’s no longer open. The first couple of nights I had a couple of bouts of claustrophobia. It feels like your breath is being taken from you, and you can’t catch it. By staying calm, that feeling quickly passed.
I am finding that I need to “fine tune” it a bit to my exact needs. After the first week, I found that my nose was a bit sore in the morning. It was also very dry. Looking into my patient handbook, it told me that I probably need to increase the humidity. After doing that, it made a major difference, and my nose is no longer sore when I awaken. Now I tend to have a bit of a runny nose instead. I can live with that. It only lasts a few minutes, and doesn’t make my nose sore.
I definitely feel like I’m sleeping sounder, but am still feeling tired throughout the day. Hopefully as I continue to use the CPAP machine, my daytime sleepiness will decrease.
When I first got the machine, I didn’t want my granddaughters Aya and Aly to be frightened if they saw me wearing it. They often come into my room if they wake before anyone else is up. I brought them into my room and placed the nasal pillow mask onto my face. I told them that if they came into my room and I was wearing it, they shouldn’t be afraid. Aya looked at me like I was stupid and said, “Why would we be scared Nana? We still know it’s you.” Then they both turned and left the room. Nana worries more than she should sometimes I guess!