My latest diagnosis, which came after my hernia repair surgery in May, is sleep apnea. While I was in recovery, I stopped breathing a few times so I woke up with a CPAP mask on my face.
Now, I am extremely claustrophobic and one of my worst fears is having something on my face. The irony here is that I am afraid of being suffocated, but an oxygen mask of any kind is used to help your breathing.
Apparently, I did very well this time (could have been coming out of sedation), and they were able to leave it on for about an hour. I ended up being kept overnight with a nurse watching me the whole time to make sure I didn’t have any more problems.
The Anesthesiologist’s recommendation was for me to be tested for sleep apnea. Now I had been tested before and both times it came out negative so I wasn’t too worried and didn’t want to go through it again so I stalled on it. The next time we saw our family doctor she and I talked about it and she sent me for testing.
A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is a ventilator that produces continuous air to help keep airways open and control breathing in those who tend to stop breathing while sleeping. I had been tested twice before and was told I was fine. I have never been a great sleeper, even before I got sick, but I was relieved to know that breathing wasn’t the problem.
Hubby had been diagnosed last summer shortly after we moved. He was given a loner machine to see how it helped and it did, very much. First, he didn’t snore, which wasn’t really that bad and I knew that I did as well. However, the biggest difference is that he got better sleep in shorter time. He also looked like Darth Vadar which isn’t a selling point!
But this didn’t have me convinced that I needed to be tested again. And I certainly didn’t want to be hooked up to a mask all night. That was more likely to keep me awake or give me nightmares!
My GP didn’t agree. She read the report from the anesthesiologist and sent a referral to the same place Hubby went to. The test nowadays is more than just the clip on your finger measuring oxygen levels. Now it is three parts with one on your head, one on your heart and the finger clip of course. Hubby came out with an average of 35 stops per hour, while mine was around 24. So, the next stop was to do a trial.
The actual CPAP machines are smaller and totally quiet – so different from years past. Unlike Hubby, I needed more humidity so that was increased and I was given a heated hose. I had difficulty using the machine at first, going back and forth between the full face mask and a “nose pillow” mask. I alternate; however, I have mostly been using the full mask ironically.
Some of my problems centered around my other health challenges more than my claustrophobia. I had an asthma attack which made wearing either mask very difficult with my coughing, etc. I also had a sinus infection which did better with the nose mask than the full one. When I was having a pain flare bad enough for me to sleep in my recliner, I would need to wake Hubby up to help me move the machine to the living room. It isn’t heavy, it is just bending to unplug it and plug it in that I couldn’t do.
There have been so many times over the last few months where I have said that I don’t care if it helps, I can’t do this. I have had a few appointments with our respiratory tech and each time I was going to take the machine back and give up. Hubby would nod with empathy as he knows what I go through and would end up continuing on.
Yesterday was the day we were to go and return the trial machine and pick up my own personal CPAP. The doctor and medical plan approved it and so here was my last chance to rebel against my chronic illness and say no.
But, of course, I didn’t. I went into the office and got set up with a new machine, masks, heated tubing and handy carrying case. Hubby set it up for me and I had a great 8-hour sleep.
Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be a rebel. Breathing through the night is good for my health.
AKA Mrs. Darth Vadar
PS My Video Blog has now been moved to Wednesdays!