CPAP Recap


I’ve forgotten for how long I’ve been tired. Definitely since having kids, but, for some time I’ve had and extra special flavor of tired. I have gone down a list of sensible areas to check, such as allergies, hydration, sleep habits, and so forth, and left actual sleep quality testing for last. There was no way I was going to assimilate myself into the sleep Borg (Star Trek nerd reference) known as a CPAP. That’s the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device that senses when it needs to blow a collapsed airway open.

Welll, I finally did a home sleep study annd, it turns out my laziness extends to occasionally resting from breathing at night. After talking to some wise people and doing some mental origami, I got myself to the point of looking forward to trying CPAP, because, hey, feeling rested sounds like a win!

I found a good and reputable deal online for a popular machine and went yesterday to get fitted for a mask. It was quite an adventure. I worked with the respiratory therapist to select a minimalist “nasal pillow” style, since I also have a dislike for the feeling of things on my face.

With the mask “comfortably” strapped in place, the therapist turned on the air flow. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever blown on a baby’s face, or seen it done? If you don’t know, the baby usually gets a startled look, gasps, and maybe flings her arms out to catch a passing branch as her imagined Rock-A-Bye Baby cradle falls from the tree top. That basically describes my internal experience of the sudden air invasion. To not help matters, I reflexively opened my mouth, which invited the hurricane to unexpectedly leave my throat. It took some doing to right that ship.

If I were to use this gadget in the middle of the day, when I would be looking for an amusing reason to be distracted from the dishes, I could play with my tornado mouth powers for quite some time. However, the point of this is to help me sleep, and I could only envision accidentally opening my mouth in the middle of the night, causing me to clamber for a tree branch in the direction of my husband’s face. My RT and I agreed maybe a full-face style mask might be a better starting point. I picked two that I thought would be best to try at home and thanked my RT for her amazing help.

The first mask I’m trying combines a nasal pillow with a mouth covering so that I can breathe in any way that comes naturally and not be “disrupted” by any strange weather. I practiced with it, like suggested, until I got more used to the fit. I went to bed at a reasonable time to do some reading while starting with some “awake practice” of the CPAP.

First attempt: total fail. I set the “ramp” setting on, which starts at the lowest air pressure possible, and over time increases to the prescribed amount. My sinuses got very congested. Then, I spent 10 minutes trying to figure out how to yawn. It was extremely dissatisfying. Like one of those itches that seems to move somewhere else the second you scratch. I guess this perturbed the machine. We ended up on divergent breathing plans. Our ins and outs were all catawampus. Also, my setting is “5.” It went to 6. I said no and turned it off. I took off the mask. Yawned. Got a drink. Gave ol’ C-Pappy a scowl. I accepted its apology and tried again.

I put the mask back on, ramp setting back on, my earbuds in and started my podcast. I eventually convinced my brain there were no attackers and that my lungs and I could act normally. My sinuses ultimately cleared, and I found that side sleeping wasn’t as uncomfortable as I expected. My brain checked in with itself periodically through the night, like a dog on patrol.

I woke up after 11 hours of what I presume was sleep, feeling like a space cadet. I now have Jell-O for brains. I slept through my alarm (and Brian’s, too). My lungs feel violated. Every time I inhale, I feel the memory of the air pushing its way in, sort of like when you get off a boat or a hotel elevator and everything is still sort of moving. I keep asking myself if the mask is still on my face. No? Are you sure?

So now my bedside looks like I’m staying at a posh hospital, which I’m super [not] thrilled about. I’m reminding myself that in a week or so I’ll be so glad I signed up for this. I’m going to feel so rested and human (right?). I’ll let you know. *wink*

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