Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mr. Snuffleupagus

Or, The Trials and Tribulations of a Middle Aged Blogger

It's sad being a middle aged blogger sometimes. The things I think of to write about make me sound like an old man whining about his ailments.

So, listen up, y'all whipper-snappers!

I'm not going to complain; I just wanted to say that I'm really liking my CPAP machine that helps me to breathe at night.

As a result of one night's observed sleep testing, I went from someone who hasn't felt rested after sleeping for all of my life that I can remember, to being diagnosed with extreme sleep apnea, to sounding like Darth Vader all night with my CPAP machine.

Actually, it doesn't sound like that. With the CPAP machine turned on, you pretty much have to walk over to it an lean over it to even hear it. The newer ones are that quiet.

I'm a nose breather (primarily) and they consequently gave me a mask that fits over my nose. It has some ultra-soft and pliable rubber where it actually contacts my face and forms to it pretty well. I haven't even had to shave off my John Bolton autographed model mustache; the mask seals over it very well.

I do look like Mr. Snuffleupagus though, but he's cool, so that's not a bad thing as far as I'm concerned.

The CPAP machine has a water reservoir that I put a bit of distilled water into each night, and it actually warms the water too. As the machine takes in air and before it sends it out the hose to my cute little turned up nose (yeah, right) it sends the air through this warmed water reservoir and picks up some moisture so that I don't have to wake up with my breathing passages all dried out.

I thought that was pretty cool. Or warm. Whatever.

Apparently lots of folks have trouble each night getting into "the groove" of using the machine. That the pressure is just too strong initially.

When the machine is first turned on, it comes on at the pressure that is prescribed by the doctor and is kind of startling.

So what they have done, those clever, clever, engineers, is to create a "ramp" feature. Turn the unit on by pressing the power button and then immediately press the button with the little icon of a ramp on it, and the machine goes to a softer pressure, which will then slowly ramp up to the prescribed operating pressure, hopefully sometime after you're asleep.

And to add to the luxury of the heated, moisturized air, and the ramp feature, the third button on the top of the machine engages some circuitry that senses when you're breathing in and lets the machine assist you with the prescribed air pressure, but when you stop breathing in and start to breathe out, the machine halts the pressure briefly so that you aren't breathing outward against the pressure of the machine at full force. In other words, it helps you breathe in as CPAPs always have done, but it also halts the pressure to let you exhale normally.

Those clever, clever engineers. Gotta love those guys.

What's not to like? The machine has three buttons, one for on-off, one for the ramp feature, and one for the C-Flex circuitry and one knob to adjust the amount of moisture the humidifier produces. Hey, it even turns itself on if I put the mask on and start breathing into it before hitting the On button. This thing is totally customizable and easy enough for an engineer to use!

I couldn't find a really good photo of my machine, but here's an itty bitty one.

Behold, the REMstar Pro M Series C-Flex CPAP with integrated Humidifier:

I'll bet you one shiny new nickel that an engineer didn't come up with that name though. That has the stench of marketing type personnel all over it.

Results? I have to grudgingly admit that the machine makes a lot of difference in my energy levels, especially in the morning.

I still have a bit of the brain fog when I first get up, but I don’t have trouble getting up. And my morning routine, along with my ever-present back and leg pain, have conspired for years now to cause me to want to crawl back in bed once I've gotten ready for work.

The whole routine of getting shaved, cleaned, dressed, and my stuff gathered, honestly wears me out. Or it has for years now. The back and leg pain really lowered the bar on my energy level. Constant pain will wear you out just sitting there; add to this the normal morning routine of millions of folks all over the world and I just want to cry and go back to bed.

But in the seven nights I've slept using the CPAP machine, I've had plenty of energy for getting ready and going to work. Totally amazing. I finished getting ready yesterday morning (I'm off today) and I stopped and said a little thank you prayer to God, because I wasn't tired at all. I only hurt.

Believe me, this is a big deal. Tired and hurting creates a crabby man. Hurting only is like having half of my two biggest troubles taken away. And it's so easy that it is deceiving. It would be easy to take the energy for granted and concentrate on the pain, but I am determined to revel in the energy; at least in the mornings.

I still get home dog tired, and I still am going to bed early each night, but I used to dread going to bed, because I didn’t sleep well, and I also dreaded how I would feel so tired in the mornings, even after 9 hours of sleep. But for one week now, I've had more energy in the morning than since I was a kid.

I'm hoping that as time goes on, my sleep debt will be paid off and that I'll have the energy to walk, ride my bicycle and stay up long enough to talk to my family in the evenings.

Anyway, that's my CPAP report, as nauseatingly boring, detailed, and intricate as only an engineer can make a subject.

Not that the subject of CPAP machines is the kind of story you stay up half the night to read anyway.

At lest for now, I actually look forward to going to bed, and dare I say it, am reasonably sure I'll feel decent when I get up in the morning. That's a very positive change for me.

Downside? You'd have to ask Lovely Wife, but I don't think she can even hear the machine so that's not an issue.

It's very hard to talk with the mask on an unit running. And I don't talk much. I typed more words in this blog than I speak aloud in a week; not an exaggeration, so even less talking than I do now might eventually get me in trouble.

Not yet though.



Hammer said...

MAn these crazy spams comments are taking over.

anyway, glad the machine is working so well for you. I'm going to try to talk my dad into getting one. He has apnea so bad that he wakes himself up ever 5 minutes and doesn't know it.

You may want to look into a homeopathic treatments for pain. I've seen some miraculous results with some people. They are usually just drops or tiny pills the size of a grain of rice.

Babystepper said...

Glad it's working out for you. The one hubbies grandpa has doesn't have the humidifier, and he had a lot of trouble with everything drying out and hurting. Glad that's not a problem with you.

Julie said...

I remember how my hubby experienced a period of adapting to his c-pap. You'll be fine...just give it time.

katherine. said...

I have a friend who started on this machine a few years ago and it literally changed his life.


photowannabe said...

Hey John, I'm so glad to hear about your improvement. It sounds like the perfect answer to a more healthy you. Keep it up. I may have to look into that for my Hubby too. His non-breathing wakes me up and I nudge him into breathing again.

D said...

I need one. I've just been too scared and weirded out by being attached to a machine while I aleep to further investigate. The sleep study and resultant "nap" study were horrific enough. However - I feel encouraged reading your success. As my little Buddy would say..."CHEESE!"

Wingnut said...

Hey John
this is truly inspiring, I too have not slept in well, longer than I can even remember, and live in constant back and should pain, it's my daily life.

Now all I need is a windfall of money or a better insurance policy, (or both) reading this, I really think it may be time for me to get off my rear end and look into being more aggressive about this for myself. Congrats, sounds like you are well on your way!

Scribbit said...

well let's hope you're catching plenty of zzzs right now--there's nothing more frustrating than waking up and not feeling rested. My husband sleeps like a log every night and sometimes I get rather resentful :)

Qtpies7 said...

I wonder what its like to have energy in the morning. Can't remember. But mine is self-inflicted. I stay up way too late at night enjoying the quiet of no children around. And I won't give it up for sleep, no way, no how! Its MY time!

Norma said...

I know someone who uses a CPAP, but hasn't had the success you've experienced. That's great that you've had relief.

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