I finally got my CPAP on Thursday. I’d been feeling bad all week and it was the worst that day; I felt dull and tired and dizzy. I was eager to get going with the CPAP so I could start feeling better again, like everyone said would happen. So that night I set it up on my nightstand and used it for the first time.
It was not a very successful first night. Every time I finally started to drop off into sleep, my mouth filled with air…so I woke up immediately. It got very frustrating, and after about 45 minutes of that I gave up on the CPAP, turned it off and took off the mask.
The next day at work, though, I felt great. I had energy like you wouldn’t believe and I was dancing around and singing to people. I don’t know if it was psychosomatic or if 45 minutes of getting lots of air while resting really made that much of a difference. (Another factor is that my doctor had me go back down on some of my heart medicine to get rid of the dizziness. That might be the main reason I felt so much better.)
I was told it could take six weeks to fully adjust to using a CPAP, so I wasn’t discouraged by the first night’s failure. In fact, the consultant at the place where I got the CPAP said I might have to start out only doing half an hour a day. I went to bed last night determined to leave it on as long as I possibly could, and to try to stop the air from filling my mouth…somehow.
I was somewhat successful in dealing with the air going into my mouth. I could kind of tell when it was going to happen, so I would just inhale a lot and then breathe it all out. I was awake when this happened, but not fully awake, which was an improvement.
This time, the problem was dryness. My CPAP came with a humidifier that is supposed to keep my nose and throat from drying out due to all the air blowing into it. I had it set to the average level, 2, but after awhile I woke up feeling awful because my mouth and throat were so dry. I kicked it up to 4 and tried once again to sleep, but the dryness never went away. I think I must have been opening my mouth while I was asleep, so that’s something else I’m going to have to put my subconscious to work on.
Listen, subconscious: no letting air fill the mouth, and no opening the mouth. Behave!
My mouth was so uncomfortable that I had to stop the CPAP for that night, stick a cough drop in my mouth, and go to sleep normally. But I was pleased to find that I’d managed to wear it for two hours this time.
One thing I’m kind of concerned about is the redness on my face when I take the mask off, and the irritation I feel on my skin. I don’t know if I’m allergic to the mask or if that’s just what happens when there’s a vacuum seal on your face. I’m hoping it’s the latter. The redness goes away after hours of not wearing the mask. Hopefully things will continue this way as long as I keep the mask cleaned daily like I’m supposed to.
The CPAP requires a lot of maintenance. I have to refill the distilled water in the humidifier daily, and wash it out weekly. I have to wash and air-dry the mask daily, and the straps that hold it to my head weekly. And there’s an air filter on the CPAP that has to be changed out every month or so–I have two of them so I can switch them out and then wash the dirty one. More little things to add to my routine, I suppose. It’s hard for me to do things on a monthly basis, but hey, if I can remember to pay the rent, I guess I can also remember to change an air filter.
I don’t remember the CPAP irritating my skin, or my mouth filling with air or drying out during my sleep study. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong or if it’s just that I’m more relaxed at home, so I do things I wouldn’t have done at the study, like relax my throat or let my mouth fall open. Regardless, the last two nights have been very irritating, and while dealing with the various issues I’ve thought that I don’t want to have this hassle in my life. But it’s important, and like any other irritation it has a time limit, and I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the time…so I’m going to suck it up and deal with it.
I’m pretty sure the only reason I have sleep apnea is because I’m overweight, so if I can solve that problem I may not have to do this anymore. Yet another very good reason to be healthy.