You might remember that I previously posted about my sleep issues. As it turned out, a trip to my ENT and subsequent sleep study showed that I have severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea. When the doctor called to tell me results of the sleep study, she opened with, “Holy moly- it’s a good thing you did this study!”
On average, I stopped or interrupted my breathing 61 times per hour. My average pulse-oxygen level was below 85, which is considerably lower than the optimum 95-100. I even dropped into the 60s for part of the night. No wonder I constantly felt exhausted! No wonder cup after cup of coffee was never enough to boost my tiredness. Eating right, staying hydrated, and exercising didn’t give positive results either. Nothing worked because I wasn’t getting enough oxygen all night for a very long time. Who knows how many months or even years- yikes!!!
Once the doctors and my insurance company organized a plan of attack, I met with a respiratory therapist who talked me through my new best friend- the CPAP machine. I listened intently and asked the appropriate questions. I wanted no room for error as I set up my plan for getting healthy nights of sleep. He was patient and thorough with every step. I even tried the mask with him so that I knew what to expect- it was a bit of a shock to feel that air pass straight from my nose and out my mouth when I parted my lips to talk.
Because our family travels often, I asked about taking the device with me. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the bag for the machine doesn’t even count as a carry-on bag for air travel because it is a medical device.
When I came home from that appointment, I set about the task of rearranging my nightstand to fit the CPAP machine. It really isn’t too large and was user-friendly as far as the setup. Then, I just had to wait until I could go to bed. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve!
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, which is a therapy for folks like me who have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Basically, it increases the air pressure in my throat so that it doesn’t collapse and cut off my airway while I’m sleeping. There is a mask that fits over the base of my nose with pillow-type cushions that cover my nostrils and a strap that goes around my head to keep it in place while I sleep. Tubing connects the mask to the CPAP machine. The particular machine that I received will automatically adjust the air pressure as I breathe throughout the night.
I gave it a test-drive last night. Even though it was a new routine, it wasn’t difficult to feel organized and ready for bed with my new gear. It did take a little longer for me to fall asleep, but that wasn’t because my CPAP and mask were uncomfortable. I was just overly conscious of the device and focused on every little thing rather than settling into sleep. The mask didn’t feel restrictive or heavy on my face. The tubing allowed for movement as normal while I slept. The machine itself was quiet. When I woke up to use the restroom during the night, I simply took off the mask and turned off the machine. When I returned to bed, I slipped the mask on, hit the power button on the CPAP, and fell right back to sleep. As for my husband, he wasn’t bothered by the machine at all. In fact, he rested better than usual because I wasn’t choking and snoring all night long.
So, you might be wondering how I feel after a night filled with proper airflow and oxygen. I can honestly say that I notice a real difference. I felt almost lightheaded for about the first hour after I woke up. As someone who has felt exhausted for longer than I can remember, I feel strangely alert today. I also notice that I’m not yawning throughout the day.
The real question is- why did I wait so long to address my sleep issues? Time. Money. Thinking it would get better on its own. Not understanding the full scope of the problem. Assuming one of the simple fixes I purchased off of Amazon and at pharmacies would work for me.
Now, I know that my case is too severe for those quick fixes. I learned that there is a different solution for me. Here’s to getting out of my own way and taking action. I won’t wait so long the next time I have a health concern!