It’s Monday night and I find myself with some time! Hello out there. Sorry for the delay. I’ve been getting around 10-20 page views in the past couple weeks. That must have been disappointing.
While Han is recording a trumpet session and DK is tucked away in her room, I have the floor, so to speak. And what I’ve been wanting to write about is The Machine.
Ever since I came back from a weekend with my parents over Easter, I have been faithfully using The Machine. I have sleep apnea and some time ago, probably 3-4 years now (damn!), I got my act together and went through the process to figure out why I snore so badly, feel so tired etc. The diagnosis was sleep apnea, and seriously, I was off the charts with the number of times my sleep was interrupted, as determined by a little thingie I had to wear on my finger at night as I ‘slept.’ Anyway, so I was ‘fitted’ for this mask thing and given a machine. At some point over the course of the time I’ve had this thing, I got a new, more comfortable mask.
But really? This thing is rather terrible. Think of an oxygen mask, but it just goes over your nose. It straps around your head and has a long hose that connects it to the machine. You have to breathe with it strapped on your face but only through your nose. The machine pumps air into your nose constantly. The reason for the constant flow of air is: “…by pushing air through the airway passage at a pressure high enough to prevent apneas and can be prescribed for both obstructive and central sleep apnea. The pressure is set according to the patient’s sleep apnea.” (http://www.sleepapnea.org/resources/pubs/cpap.htm).
So, after much cajoling by my mother, my guilty conscience, and a spectacular account of my snoring that weekend from my nephew and sister (we were all sharing the living room), I knew I needed to be more diligent about using it. And I have been. Strapping that damn mask on every night. Have I mentioned how attractive it is? Behold:
But the thing is, every morning, the mask is off. It would be a terrible – yet probably watched – reality show to set up a video camera to see just what the hell I do every night to get that thing off. Because I never remember taking it off.
Some nights are better than others. There is a counter on the machine that shows how many hours it’s been on. I try to always check what it is before I go to sleep and then what it is in the morning. I’ve ranged from a measly hour to a full 6-7 hours. I have no idea why some nights I can leave it on and others not so much. The worst thing about it is I sometimes still feel tired during the day. I would venture a guess that it’s not as bad as it used to be, but there are definitely still some days when I am dragging.
I have developed a kind of routine every night. Because of my hair, and because the straps don’t really feel good either over my ear or under it, I’ve found a good sideways start to sleeping. I lay on my right side with my right arm stretched out toward the top of the bed, but underneath the pillows. I move the hose so it’s kind of upward, going up over my forehead rather than down by my chin. I’ve found it’s easier to move that way. Then I take a few deep mouth breaths, then turn the thing on and close my mouth. There’s this thing called the “ramp.” The machine’s pressure was set for me, but you don’t have to start it at full pressure. I can press this button and the pressure is decreased, then as I sleep, it ramps up to the set pressure.
Still, it takes some getting used to. You have to relax and focus on breathing in and out of your nose. Sometimes, if I lay a little weirdly, there’s a gap between the mask and my face and little blasts of air go in my eye. That’s not fun. Once I’ve positioned myself and got the breathing down, I am almost instantly asleep. At least that’s what it feels like. Next thing I know it’s 6 am, and the mask is off. That can vary a little. For instance, this morning, the mask was off my face, but it was also completely detached from the hose, but the machine was still pumping out air. Other times, the machine has been turned off and the mask is placed neatly on top of it. It’s a mystery.
It might not be a bad idea to figure out who I can talk to to see if the pressure is still accurate. I’ve changed insurance carriers so many times since I got it, I don’t know if there are any good records. I was with Kaiser when I was diagnosed, but it wasn’t Kaiser that gave me the machine, it was some durable hard goods medical company. I’ll look into it and see what I can find out.
So that’s the story. I’ll keep using it and hopefully, I’ll get better at it. If nothing else, I can do a pretty good impression of Darth Vader.