Monday, August 29, 2011

Breathing Night & Day

As long as I can remember I've had trouble sleeping. Last Summer I shared a cabin with Mom and Dad at our family reunion, and Mom told me she thought I had sleep apnea. She said I would take a big breath, a small breath, a tiny breath, and then stop breathing for several seconds and then start over again. I didn't have insurance at the time so there wasn't a lot I could do about it. I do have insurance now, so a couple months ago I had a sleep test. It was an at home one that lasted three nights. The results were that I stop breathing on average 20 times per hour. This is considered moderately severe sleep apnea. It kind of took forever for me to get a CPAP since there was a misunderstanding between the diagnostic company and my doctor's office on who needed to send the order to a respiratory company. I started a harassment campaign to both and eventually got some results. A nice lady from Symbious Medical called me the day after receiving the order and set up an appointment for the next day. She came and explained how to use and care for the machine. I tried a couple of masks on and decided on one. It is not beautiful, but I wasn't expecting beauty. My machine works great and I am sleeping better.

My breathing at night has improved, but the way the machine works, is that it blows filtered, humidified air into my nostrils, gently at first, but with more force as needed to keep air going into my lungs. My lungs are taking some time to adjust. The first few days I had trouble catching my breath during the day. I found I couldn't walk my normal quick pace, but had to really slow down. I thought it might take just a couple days to adjust, but soon I started to feel like I had a corset on that was squeezing the life out of me. I cut down on the hours I used the CPAP at night, but I wasn't improving. I called Symbious, to see if I need to make an adjustment on my machine, I got an answer back that some times the machine would slightly aggravate asthma, but if it was severe to call my doctor. I called my doctor, (this office, by the way, is nearly impossible to get a human on the phone) and got an appointment and eventually two inhalers, that have reduced the chest pain and improved my day time breathing significantly. I'm still a bit sensitive and now I think I'm cacthing a cold, but my night time breathing is better and I'm not always exhausted like I used to be. so life is looking up.

Here's a picture of my face mask, I'm not showing one on me since I'm too vain for that, this is the picture from the instruction manual.
I thought I looked like a giant mosquito, Alan tells me I look  more like a mole with a miner's headlight. Ah well, night-time vanity is not as important as a good night's sleep.

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