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Sleep Apnea – 3 Months Later

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

At the end of July, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea.  At the time, it felt like a bit of a curse – dealing with the fact that I’d never be able to sleep “normally” again.  But, my apnea was causing some health issues and I know that if I were to not treat my apnea, the health issues in the future could be very serious.  So, I nervously hosed up.

The first few nights were pretty awful.  I wore my mask maybe 2 hours the first night and not much more the next.  But within the next few days, I was wearing it at least 4 hours a night and to my surprise, the nights I stayed in a hotel while traveling for work were the first nights I kept the mask on all night long!

It has now been 3 months and I’ve worn my mask faithfully every night, except for the small period when I had a bad case of the flu.  I actually like going to bed with the hose!  I feel great, not necessarily running around with abounding energy, but not feeling like I need a nap after work either.  Oh, and I haven’t become a “morning person” either, but I’m not going to complain.  Maybe I’m just not meant to be very perky before 8 a.m. 🙂

Here are some of the things that helped me adjust to my bedtime buddy:

1.  Finding the right mask – Visit any CPAP forum on the web and you’ll see this as the most crucial hurdle to overcome.  My DME has a policy where you can exchange your mask within the first 30 days if you don’t like it.  So, I started of with the Mirage FX nasal mask, which is what I wore during my titration study.  I didn’t like the pillows they had me try during the study, so I really hadn’t even considered them.  After about a week, I called the DME because the mask was poking the corners of my eyes.  Turns out I have a “petite” face (yes, I did laugh out loud when the DME told me that), and the Mirage FX doesn’t come in a petite size.  I also sleep on my side, so the DME recommended I give pillows a shot.  I ended up with the Swift FX and the XS pillows.  That was my winner!  I’ve eventually moved up to the S pillows because I feel like they fit better and I’m overall extremely pleased with my Swift FX for Her.

2.  Trick out your hose – To combat some of the most common problems of rainout and getting tangled up in the hose, I….

Got a 10 foot hose.  This allowed me to move the hose behind the mattress and to roll over in bed without worrying about pulling the mask off my face – or pulling the machine onto the floor.

Bought a hose management system.  It is basically a metal stand that I velcro the hose to.  It sits behind my head and allows the hose to go up and over. This keeps me from getting tangled up in the hose and it also helps reduce leaks because the hose isn’t pulling on the mask as much.

Purchased a hose snuggie.  This is really just a fleece tube that my hose goes in.  It is supposed to keep the condensation/rainout down by insulating the air in my hose from the air in the room – trying to equalize the temperatures.  I’d say it works pretty well.

Bought a barrel cozy.  Yet another invention to help prevent rainout – this simply goes around my nasal pillows.  It is soft and is nicer to feel on my skin than the plastic of the pillows 🙂

3.  Keep at it.  Those first few nights were misery, yes.  But, my goal every night was to wear the hose a little more than the night before.  I figured if I could wear it for 30 min. more, or get to the magical 4 hour mark, I could take it off if I just absolutely couldn’t stand it any more.  (Warning – don’t let this go on too long…I can see it becoming a convenience excuse to take off the mask.  However, the little I did in the beginning helped to get me comfortable.)

4.  Wear it for fun.  Well, maybe not “fun”, but put the mask on 30 min. or so before bed and wear it while you read or watch TV.  Yes, I know it isn’t good sleep hygiene to read/watch TV in bed but that’s what I do.  That helped me get over the claustrophobia at the beginning.  The first few minutes I was very conscious of each breath, but after a little while I forgot that I had that thing strapped to my face.

Do you have sleep apnea?  Some people take to it right away, some struggle for years, and others fall in the middle.  How well did you adjust?

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