Jan 7, 2010

Things I Have Learned After Six Weeks of Using a CPAP Machine

Left: The ResMed Mirage Quattro CPAP mask: my connection to restful sleep

After completing my recent sleep studies and learning the significant extent of my sleep apnea, I received a CPAP machine in late November to help control this potentially deadly condition. This morning I had my first post-CPAP visit with my excellent sleep disorder physician, Dr. Louis Tartaglia, and we went over the data collected on the machine's digital memory card. We met at the offices of the group that specializes in sleep disorders, Pulmonary & Critical Care Specialists, which by the way has an excellent setup. All facets of the treatments are available at the same site: physicians' offices, sleep study center, and the medical supplies company.

One-stop shopping, this place.

Dr. Tartaglia, by the way, has quite a dry sense of humor, and he reminds me of Al Pacino in his mannerisms. Today he discussed my pre-CPAP apnea and its severity, noting that my Apnea-Hypopnea Index scores were "enough to kill two healthy adult men. But did you share? No sir. You kept all those apnea episodes to yourself."

Hey: you have to laugh at this stuff, or you will drive yourself nuts with the worrying. A score of 30 is considered "severe," and my averages have been over 50 episodes per hour. This rose to as high as 60 per hour during REM sleep.

Anyways, since starting the machine my apnea episodes have dropped to 3.4 per hour over the last six weeks, and I have noticed a significant improvement in feeling rested when I wake up. Gradually my energy levels have started to rise, and I usually make it until the late afternoon before feeling tired. By comparison, I used to wake up tired, and by 1:00 in the afternoon it was a real fight to keep from dozing off. My wife says that I am less cranky, that my snoring is all but gone, and that I am more pleasant these days, although the face mask sometimes shifts when I turn over and causes squeaky noises from escaping air.

Dr. Tartaglia also adjusted the initial titrated pressure on my machine from 10.00 cm H2O to 15 cm H2O. I experienced a bit of difficulty getting enough air when I first put on the mask, and it always felt like I was working hard to draw enough air until the machine gradually raised the pressure. Other than this minor adjustment, my transition to a CPAP machine has been fairly smooth, and I have been averaging 6-7 hours each night with the device, not missing a single evening so far.

Now, if I could just get my adult children to quit making so much late-night noise, I might regain even more energy.


mud_rake said...

Both my son and son-in-law use the CPAP machine and they find that it is a life-saving tool. Each report a more energetic day and more alertness.

I have no doubt they you will see the same results. Glad you moved forward on this health issue.

historymike said...

Thanks, muddy! I procrastinated for a few years, but I am glad I eventually went through the eye-opening sleep studies (pun intended).

Mad Jack said...

The temptation to stretch one of the elastic bands to maximum tension and allow it to snap back to the user's head would be too much for me.

Q: Do the dogs ever bark at you while you're wearing this contraption? How do you get them to stop?

historymike said...


I am sure the missus has the strap-snap option reserved in case emergency punitive measures are ever needed.

So far the dogs pay little attention to the mask and machine. I was initially worried that they might seek out the mask during the day and chew on the $250 device, since it has my personal scent on it, but they have so far shown no interest.

Charlie said...

Does that come with night vision capabilities?

historymike said...

Heh! My one complaint is that I cannot wear glasses with the mask, Charlie, so my tried-and-true method of reading until I fall asleep is no more.

Anonymous said...

I was diagnosed with Extremely Severe OSA in '07. I have fought with this thing for the last 3 years, at time putting the cpap or as I like to call it "c-crap" in the case for months at a time. I recently went to the doctor with some chest pains and upon doing an ekg they told me that I might have had a very, very, mild cardiac event. Even though this news really shook me up. I went home took out the CPAP and used it for ONE single night. It is still sitting on the night stand and the case has just appeared from the closet once again. I don't know what it is about this thing. I just can't seem to get past the embarrassment of it. I know that sounds stupid and really vain- but it's the truth. I'm 45 and I can't begin to tell you the simple loathing I have for this weird condition. I give you a lot of credit for embracing the treatment, and making the best of the situation. I told myself- when I was diagnosed that I would ALWAYS HATE THIS THING. I hold true to that-even though it's the wrong attitude to have. I tried, I really did. My wife has tried really hard and has a lot of patience with me, but I just can't get past the embarrassment of it. On top of that- it fills my system with "air" and we all know what that means. That too is a HUGE thing for me. I just simply refuse to give in and do this. I also have a problem with the word "compliant" ( a former boss used to use that word all the time when he would threaten my "wonderful" job in retail.
Anyways-thanks for taking the time to read my post. I give you a lot of credit for being so committed to your health and using the cpap.