It took one more sleep study and an infinite amount of weeks (okay so really about another month after the second sleep study) to start CPAP Therapy. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. In short it’s a mask attached to a machine by a nose. The machine blows filtered air through the nose, opening my airways while I’m asleep. Normally with obstructive sleep apnea, apneas occur because while you sleep the muscles in your throat and tongue relax. With some people they relax enough to close off most of the airway in your throat. Sometimes this is also due to excess weight around your neck. Sometimes there are other reasons.
I was fitted for a mask and left to my own devices to get used to this new addition to my night time face. I spent nights waking up and throwing the mask off, I tried to figure out how to breathe so it didn’t feel like I was suffocating, some mornings I’d wake up without a mask and I’d have no recollection of taking the mask off.
My very first thoughts regarding this entire thing was: How fucking embarrassing. & I’m never going to be able to travel again. & How am I ever going to spend the night with… anyone, really? I don’t want anyone sleeping over while I have to wear this.
Every night is a struggle. I have to talk myself into getting up to fill the little humidifier part with distilled water. I have to wear my hair in a pony tail just to keep the back strap from sliding off my head. I have to move around while I concentrate on breathing. Air leaks into my eyes or my lips. If I don’t have a fan on, I can hear the leaking sound. I can’t sleep, it’s too close to my face. There have been a few nights that I’ve woken up because: I turned too much in my sleep and the machine fell off the side table, there’s air in my eyes, maybe I forgot how to breath, water (!!!) is hitting the mask and making a clicking sound, I am just not comfortable.
My mask is not the best mask for me. I’m working on trying to get a new one. But each mask is going to be a new adventure. Nights upon nights of trials until it fits correctly. Every three months I can get a new one. That’s another few days of adjusting. And who knows that I’m going to do when I have a cold? Go without, as my sleep specialist suggested.
I’m still tired. But seriously, I am one million percent LESS tired than I was before. I know what awake actually is. I am more aware. I don’t wake up refreshed and ready to start the day. But it’s likely that I never will. I’m just not a morning person. There have been a few times recently that I took the mask off in the middle of the night. Last week one night I was too hot to keep it on (how that happens in the end of September when there is no heat in my house, and it doesn’t happen in the middle of the summer I’m not sure…). I spent the entire next day in a daze.
It’s very obvious that I do need to continue with CPAP therapy, possibly for the rest of my life. ( I guess it depends on who you ask, my general practitioner said “hopefully not too long” but she also never got the reports from the sleep specialist about any of this). I’m not quite ready to accept that, and this is evident during the nights when I can’t sleep because air is loudly blowing in my face and I just don’t want to contort my neck so the mask hits the pillow just right.