Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's a (goodbye) CPAP Halloween

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I do not work in a sleep lab. I do not work for (or against) any CPAP machine companies.

You may or may not know what a CPAP machine is. I'll enlighten those of you who do not. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. CPAP machines are used for people who suffer from sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea stop breathing for brief periods throughout the night, waking up-sometimes hundreds of times. Apnea sufferers wake for such brief periods that they rarely remember waking up. You probably wouldn't know you had sleep apnea unless you did a sleep study of some sort.

I was lucky enough to take part in not one, but two sleep studies. By lucky, I mean not lucky. You cannot even imagine how many wires they hook up to you and how hard it is to get all of the glue out of your hair. Here's an image to give you some idea...the black "tape" across his eyes is to protect the innocent. They did not do this to me. This isn't me (by the way). Add the same amount of wires to your legs and you've got the picture (except, I didn't have to take my shirt off). Anyhoo, I do this torturous test (and no, I've never been tortured so I'm sorry to anyone who has been I'm sure this is a walk in the park comparatively), and then go home back to my regular life and await the results. The test shows I have mild sleep apnea. My dr. recommends another study to be test how the CPAP machine would work for me. The lab was supposed to try it the night I was there but never did, for some reason (because they hate me, is what I think). Since my apnea is mild, I politely decline. No thank you. (You are the weakest link) Good bye.

Another year goes by and I think, maybe I should just try the machine. Obviously time has made the memories of my sleep study hazy. I go back for another study, this time I'm all wired up (like that guy but better looking, of course, no offense) and they add the machine. Here's a nice image of the machine from the company that makes it. Keep in mind, this is JUST what you wear, it doesn't include the 300 ft long hose that attaches to the humidifying machine that sits on your bedside table which, incidentally has a chip in it that tracks how often you use it...can you say scary? I'm getting ahead of myself though. I make it through this sleep study. CPAP mask and all, I have to say it was one of the worst nights sleep I've ever had. Not for nothing, the lab assistant told me "you don't go to a sleep study to get a good night's sleep" ain't that the truth.

Again, I go home and await the results. While waiting...I learn I'm pregnant. YAY. OK so the results are that the mask decreased the number of times I awoke throughout the night, increasing my blood oxygen level. My dr. recommends, for the sake of the baby, I should try it...even though my apnea's still mild and the improvement was not tremedous (I'm saying this so you don't think I'll be a bad mother).

I finally get an appointment to get fitted for a mask. The technician shows me how to put it together, to use (distilled) water in the humidifier, how to clean it (every morning,with unscented dish detergent, which incidentally is pretty hard to find), gives me the travel release so I can bring it on a plane (are they out of their minds?!) and sends me on my way after making a follow up appointment for today (Halloween...creepy).

It takes me 3 days to get distilled water and unscented detergent (because that's just the way I am) and another night just to get used to the idea that along with having to sleep on my left side (for the baby) and having to sleep with a wrist splint (for my pinched nerve, yes, I'm a mess) I now have to sleep with this thing! I finally put it on...and start to cry. Yes, cry. Should I not be admitting this online? Let's blame it on the pregnancy. Who cares.

This thing was insane. First of all where does that extra long tube go, and while we're on the tube, why the hell is it so long? Do people put the machine in another room while they're sleeping? The technician told me to tuck it under my, hmmm. Who the hell can wear these?! I mean, I'm happy it's helping people (and apparently it helps a lot of people) but I put that thing on and well, there is just no way. I didn't even turn the machine on.

Today I dropped off the machine. Bye Bye. :)
I feel good!

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