Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Amy Gets a CPAP Machine

Well, it's been a good two months since I've blogged yet again - I think it's time to rename it "Once a Month Blog" or "Just When Amy Feels Like Writing So Don't Get Your Hopes Up For Frequent Updates".

So, I promised to write about the results of my sleep study - the CPAP-ness and such. It was kind of sad what ended up happening; I got my results and talked to my doctor and I woke up 34 times during the sleep test. 34. And I never even GOT below stage 3 sleep. Ridiculous.

As you can guess, that meant it was time to get a CPAP machine. I got mine from Praxair - a home medical supply place. It's a rent to own type deal with our insurance, so I pretty much got my own unit right off. I met my Praxair representative, who explained how to use my CPAP machine and such, and then proceeded to do a mask fitting to see which one would work best. I ended up going home with this new gel-type one and was pretty happy with it, from what I could tell.

Man was it a whole different world when I tried to use it.

I'm going to ask you to imagine with me again - are you with me yet? Okay, so imagine you're putting on a snorkel mask, but just the nose part. It is literally eating your face and feels HUGE. It presses against your upper lip area because you're wearing a mouth guard because you not only have a blocked airway in your sleep, you grind your teeth. As if one sleep problem wasn't enough.

A snorkel mask is a pretty good comparison not only because of where it sits, but if you have a humidifier attached to your CPAP machine and have it set too high, it feels like you're drowning. If you have it set too low, though, it congests you like crazy.

Also, getting situated is a bit ridiculous - mostly because the hose pushes into the edge of your pillow, pushing the mask into your face. They actually have CPAP pillows that have a hole cut out of the side right where the hose sits, so you don't have that problem. I'm thinking I'm just going to cut a hole out of my pillow. I'll let you know how that one goes.

The best part about a CPAP mask is that you have to get it at just the right pressure - if it's too loose, it leaks and you don't have the right pressure for it to work. If it's too tight, it feels like you're losing all circulation to your face. Yes, that's totally sarcasm.

Okay, so after a week or so of using the new gel mask it was driving me crazy, so I went in and got it switched out for a smaller, older model. The problem with the fitting concept is that the situation of sitting in a chair, testing out masks is not true to how you're actually going to use it; unless people sleep sitting completely upright, which I guess my friend's mom does sometimes (with her CPAP- and now I understand why).

I want to try the nose and mouth covering masks, but the 30-day trial period is up and the insurance won't let me get a new mask for 2 more months. In the meantime, I'm trying to get comfortable in my bed and after an hour I pretty much end up tearing it off in frustration and getting the sleep I can with it off. Why did it work just fine for a month or so and now I can't sleep with it on? I have no idea.

Picture with me wearing the CPAP to come...if I don't destroy it first.