I did it!

Okay, I guess getting up at 6:30 am was an anomaly, because it certainly didn’t happen today. However, something very awesome happened instead.

I wore the CPAP all night!

I still woke up a couple times with a cough, and finally I put a cough drop in my mouth. After that I woke up one more time–at around 6 o’clock–and then passed out again until my alarm went off at 8.

The last time I woke up, I wondered if the CPAP was working properly, because I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all by the air. I even checked all the tubing to make sure. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong. I think I had just finally adjusted to how it felt over the course of the evening.

Rock on!

I’m not going to assume I’ll be this successful tonight, because that would just be setting myself up for disappointment, but I do consider this a major step towards fully adjusting. I look forward to the nights when I wear the mask the whole time and don’t wake up at all!

Good morning!

Last night I went to bed at around 10:30 or 11. I was able to fall asleep with the CPAP on. Once I woke up with a horrible tickle in the back of my throat that made me keep coughing. I turned the humidifier back down to 2 and that seemed to help, oddly. Another time I woke up and took the mask off, then I woke up again later and put it back on. Finally I woke up a third time with my throat really dry so I took it off for the rest of the night. Since I was half-asleep most of the time, I didn’t check my clock, so I don’t know how long I actually wore the mask last night.

I started to wake up around 6, and dozed until around 6:30, when I finally got up. I just didn’t feel the need to be in bed anymore. This is remarkable because for the last week or so I have barely been able to get out of bed. Yesterday, for example, I stayed for as long as I possibly could–until 9:15, which is 15 minutes before I leave for work.

But today I didn’t want to sleep anymore, so I got up and read my webcomics and checked out a couple of blogs. Then the sun was up enough that I thought I might take a walk outside, so I did.

It was about 35 degrees out, so I put on workout pants that I thought were warm enough, a shirt, and a sweater. I did not wear my gloves, though I should have, and I don’t think I even own a hat anymore, so I went bareheaded.

As a result of being so underdressed (I’m not used to the cold anymore!), I wasn’t able to stay out long, just 15 minutes. But I felt like I could have continued, so when I got back inside I hopped on my bike, which is propped up on a resistance stand in the second bedroom, and rode for ten minutes. As I rode I thought about ways I could get a TV into that room so I won’t be bored stiff when I’m exercising.

It wasn’t a huge workout, but it was enough to build up a sweat, and I feel pretty darn good.

I’m going to try to keep this up all week. Also, since I’m taking my lunch today, I might see about a brief walk during my break as well.

For now, breakfast, then shower, then lunch-packing. Whee!


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.

Sleep study #2

After my first sleep study back in October, it was determined that I have moderate sleep apnea. I was seen by a sleep specialist and the ear nose and throat doctor again, and then I was sent back to the sleep study place to be fitted for a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. With sleep apnea, you stop breathing while sleeping because your airway collapses. A CPAP forces air into your nose, helping you to breathe properly.

Coincidentally, I ended up with the same sleep study technician as last time, Chris, and had my study in the same room.

I had to wait for some time as Chris set up the patient next door, a small baby. Fortunately, this time I’d brought my laptop and box set of Initial D, so I got ready for bed and then watched several episodes. There was a hospital wireless network available, but it was unsecured so I decided not to get online.

Finally Chris arrived to wire me up. This time I was able to get a picture before he put the hair net on:

Chris was just as talkative as last time, but I was pretty tired, so I wasn’t as involved in the conversation as I might have been.

In the middle of getting me set up, Chris had to leave the room to get a humidifier for the CPAP, and while I waited for him to get back I drew a picture of Batman on the markerboard door of the closet.

Finally it was time to sleep. I got into place and Chris helped me put on the face mask. It only covers the nose. There’s a bunch of soft padding on it so it’s comfortable, and there’s a piece of plastic that connects to a padded bar that goes on your forehead, to add stability. That whole unit is then strapped to your head with adjustable fabric belts, which you can slip off of hooks if you need to remove the mask quickly.

It was weird after it was on and Chris first started the flow of air. My first instinct was to rip the mask off, as if I was being suffocated. But I forced myself to breathe the air that was blowing into the mask.

Then Chris asked me a question, and let me tell you, it is very weird to try to talk only to hear a weird raspy sound and feel a torrent of air blowing out of your mouth.

“Did I ask you the question because I wanted to know the answer, or because I wanted to hear you do that?” Chris asked. Hmm, let’s all think about that! ;>

We got the mask settled in on my face and I got comfy for the night.

I have a love-hate relationship with this photo (which Chris kindly took for me). Obviously, I wouldn’t send this out with my Christmas cards. I mean, it’s just not flattering. But at the same time, it’s so perfectly representative of what it’s like to be wired up for a sleep study.

It doesn’t look comfortable, does it? But remarkably, my biggest complaint about the situation would have to be that the pillow didn’t provide proper neck support. I’m spoiled by Tempur-Pedic. And that’s it!

The mask didn’t really bother me while I was asleep. When I first started trying to go to sleep I wondered if I would wake up, forget about the mask, discover it, and freak out. But that didn’t happen. I vaguely recall the mask moving off my nose slightly, and moving it back myself, and I also vaguely pulling the mask off as best I could, only to have Chris come fix it, but I wasn’t particularly distressed by any of these events.

I slept very soundly, and I was very unhappy when Chris woke me around 7.

The exit questions were the same, but my answers were really different. Can you remember any dreams? No, not at all. How long were you asleep? I have no idea. What time is it right now? No clue. What time did you go to sleep? Um. It’s kind of scary that my answers were so precise before, and this time…nothing. Does this mean that I was so asleep that my internal body clock took the night off? And am I not going to have dreams anymore? Because I’ll miss those :>

It took awhile for me to feel like I was awake after that. Chris told me that around the middle part of the day I’d realize that I felt refreshed, but I wasn’t sure about that. I did, thankfully, wake up enough that I felt comfortable driving home.

When I got here I had planned on going straight to bed, but it turned out that we forgot to pay the rent, so I relaxed a little with the intention of going and doing that, and I ended up watching more Initial D and running that errand and just staying awake.

Until, abruptly, I fell asleep on the couch.

The nap was somewhat restful, but not ideal. I kept waking up and hearing the DVD menu music and thinking that I should turn it off, and then falling back asleep. But afterwards I at least felt like I could make it through the rest of the day.

I think what happened is that I actually did get some restful sleep, and when it stopped prematurely my body was very unhappy about it.

I originally thought wearing a face mask was going to be a colossal pain, but now I’m excited to see what will happen when I have my own CPAP. It’ll be cool to see if I actually do feel more rested in the daytime, and have more energy to do things. I would love to start being active again.

I’m not actually sure when all this will happen, though. I think I’m going to get the prescription in three weeks when I go back to the ENT.

Move faster, time!