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Sometimes it just takes a couple of tries before something finally clicks. That’s been my experience with the Adventures in CPAP series. Twice I’d brought the CPAP home but just couldn’t get used to it. Would a third time finally be my charm? Indeed it is! I’ve been doing so well with it that I finally bought the unit!
So what was different this time? Was it the newer CPAP? Maybe. Was it the difference between the full face mask I had tried previously, and the smaller nasal cushioned pads that I am using now? No doubt that’s part of it. They’re certainly more comfortable than the face mask – at least for me. But it was something much more important that made this time stand out from the previous attempts… the exceptional people at Sussex Sleep Clinic.
My previous attempts were with another company, and although the staff was friendly, I felt very much that I was being sold to. It felt no different than walking into a store to buy a pair of sneakers. A very expensive pair of sneakers. But at Sussex Sleep Clinic Angie (and her assistant Donna) take a very different approach. They’re there to help.
Sleep apnea isn’t something to be taken lightly. The strain on your body, particularly your heart, is well documented. It’s a medical issue, and my entire experience with Sussex Sleep Clinic has revolved around what’s best for me to help me get better. At no point have I felt like I was being sold to. I feel that I’m working with a health professional to help improve my sleep. She continues to monitor my progress and provide feedback based on the data that I am able to upload from the CPAP. It’s very much a two-way relationship. And because of that, I happily purchase Angie’s recommendations.
It’s been a long road, but I feel so much better now that I have committed to using the CPAP. People ask me if I notice a difference. Initially I couldn’t answer that properly. But then my puppies ate part of the hose attachment and I went a week without using it. THAT I noticed! I slept through my alarm, I struggled to stay alert at work, I constantly felt rundown. So is it working? Absolutely. Would I consider going anywhere else for my CPAP needs? Never. Sussex Sleep Clinic truly is improving my life one night at a time.
Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady… or Third Time’s a Charm. Something like that; I can’t remember. Either way, I’m back with the dreaded CPAP machine again. I say “dreaded” because I’ve tried this thing twice now, and pretty much hated it both times. Just search CPAP on the blog and you’ll see what I mean.
So what’s different this time? That’s going to be a post of its own.
But here’s something… I’m going to skip over all the BS that I had with one provider. Let’s just say that different people’s work ethics vary greatly. Take the time to find someone you can truly work with.
I wish that I still had the old pictures of me wearing the full mask CPAP. They seem to have gone *poof* when I switched servers. That’s another great reminder to backup often and check the quality of your backups from time to time.
I’ve only been wearing the CPAP for two nights, but I tell ya… when Jess tells me that SHE’S had the best sleep she’s ever had (presumably she meant “with me”) I know that it must be working. No more knocking the roof off with loud snoring, and interspersed gaspings for air. Nope!
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any progress regarding my CPAP trial… that’s because I took it back about 3 weeks ago. It just wasn’t for me. Despite the fact that it was working when I was using it, I got tired of waking up in the morning and having it laying on the floor. At some point through the night I was taking it off in my sleep… and I just couldn’t picture myself spending $2000 (Blue Cross would cover all but $400) on something that wasn’t getting proper use. So I took it back and told the girl “If you see my name in the news that I died in my sleep, print it out and put it on your wall here with the caption ‘I told ya!'”.
So the month-long trial cost was $185, and Blue Cross gave me $140, so that wasn’t too bad.
I stopped by Medigas today to let the girl read the CPAP log. I’ve had the machine now for almost 2 weeks, so that should have been enough time to provide a glimpse at what was happening at night… and guess what? It’s working!
According to the log I did not have a single apnea episode while using the CPAP machine! This is fantastic news. She asked me if I felt any better through the day. I still can not be sure because there are other factors that affect my energy level (shift work, poor diet, general laziness) but it certainly can’t hurt!
Next week I am going to bring home a different unit that measures breathing rates, and test it over two nights… once with the CPAP and once without. I already have a pretty good idea of what the results are going to be, but it’s still part of the process.
Speaking of which… I think that it’s time to go plug myself in!
I think it was about 2 years ago that I first wrote about being tested for sleep apnea. The test results confirmed what we already suspected – my sleep was being interrupted by periods of no breathing. I’m told that this is a bad thing. It causes problems in a few areas:
So the test clearly showed that I have sleep apnea. Then what? Well… there are basically 3 options:
Of the three solutions, losing weight seemed the most sensible. I told my doctor that I was not interested in wearing the Darth Vader mask, and surgery really is a last case scenario. That left losing weight, something that would have a positive effect on a few of my ever-growing health concerns.
That was 2 years ago. I think I’m probably exactly the same weight now as I was then. Which probably explains why my sleep apnea is just as bad today as it was then. So when the Dr suggested that I call the company who had done the testing 2 years ago and see about getting the CPAP device, I really didn’t have much to say except “OK…”
It was time to make the call…
Just a little shout-out to my favourite home-away-from-home…
Well, it’s all but official now. I think that I’ve finally passed all my courses to graduate with my BBA! The elusive English mark was finally posted. A solid B+. [It was later upgraded to an A-] So that makes an A in Competitive Strategy, an A- in Business Law and a B+ in English. All things considered, I’m pretty impressed. I managed to do all three courses, while working full time, while dealing with a whole slew of personal obstacles and ill-timed relationship fallouts, and still pulled in some of the best grades that I’ve ever had. If only I had been even half as motivated 19 years ago as I am now. Things might have been different. Well, obviously things WOULD have been different. Better or worse, I do not know. I’m just happy to show a few people that I could finally get this done. And happy to scratch something off of my Steve 2.0 list. Actually, it’s the second thing that I’ve achieved on that list, but I’m not yet ready to officially sign off on the first thing.
I received some interesting news from my significant other… she’s called a realtor to come take a look at the house, and will be listing it once it’s ready. It’s something that we had discussed awhile ago, but I hadn’t heard anything recently, so it came as a bit of a surprise. I don’t know what her long term plans are, but I guess this is a step in the right direction. For everyone. Still, there’s a little sadness associated with the news. I know that it’s the right thing to do, but still…
On a final note, I was pleased to see a comment on the last post regarding the CPAP machine. I tend to think sometimes that I’m writing mostly for myself… an online journal of sorts, and that some of my family and friends peek in once in awhile to see what’s going on. Most of the comments tend to come from family and friends. Once in awhile someone else must stumble onto something that I’ve written. I remember someone commenting on my Cuil.com post once. It’s nice to see fresh new faces, although this must seem like a confusing blog because it’s all over the place. (on that note, thank you again Gary for the book on Problogging, and I will most certainly begin working on some specific blogs that are a little more targeted) Anyway… I know that I make light of a lot of things, including the sleep apnea / CPAP issue… the comment was essentially what my doctor had told me before she ordered the test, so either she’s reading my blog (uh oh) or someone who knows more about CPAP than I do (gee, what are the chances?) took the time to remind me that this is a little more serious than what I made it out to be. Thank you. 🙂
“Do you snore?”
I laughed. Well… yeah… you could say that. I was in the doctor’s office for my regular check-up courtesy of my friend, Hypertension. This was back when I had the enlarged uvula. Love saying that word. Sounds dirty.
So I was referred off to the people who do the sleep test stuff. It took a week or so before they started to call. Because my phone rings off the hook with people looking for money, I rarely answer, unless it’s someone I know on the call display. Even that’s not always a guarantee. (Yes, you know who you are.) I like to change my answering machine message frequently to keep things from becoming stale. This particular time, I had a very long-winded message targeting the phone beggars, which basically said that if you were someone I knew, or someone I’d like to know, please feel free to leave a message and I’ll see what I can do. If you’re one of the very many people looking for a handout, please don’t bother leaving a message and I won’t bother to call you back. Well, the poor lady from the sleep study must not have been expecting that, because her message started off with her trying to stop laughing, and then going on to explain who she was and that I could call her back.
So I did. But not before her partner also called my number to listen to the message.
I ended up speaking to her a couple of times before I was able to figure out exactly when I would be able to stop by and get the little machine that would attach to my finger while I slept, and supposedly record a whole bunch of stuff. (Not my dreams, please not my dreams.) She seemed quite friendly over the phone, so I was looking forward to meeting her in person.
The day that I stopped into her office, I looked like crap. I had been up all night, and had to work that night. It was actually a very warm day. As I was walking toward her office, I looked at the company sign.
I stopped suddenly and did a double-take. CRAP? Oh… CPAP. I had no idea what this was, but it sounded better than CRAP.
When I walked into the office, she was talking on the phone. I waited for a few minutes and looked around. When she hung up, and I told her that I was there for an appointment and told her that I wondered what kind of place I was coming into that did CRAP testing. She laughed. Oh, did I mention that she was quite an attractive lady? Older than myself. Wearing a really nice business suit. (I’m a sucker for that) Obviously took very good care of herself. It wasn’t hard to talk to her at all.
She explained how the monitor worked, and then came over to show me how it worked. She took my hand and placed the little clip on my finger and told me to relax. When she turned it on, she looked at the numbers and said “Hmm… your heart rate’s a little high…”
“No doubt” was all I could think of. Then she smiled and took the clip off and told me to try it when I got off work, and to fill out the survey papers before and after sleeping. There was a section there for a “sleep partner” to fill out. I said “Does the cat count?” She laughed and crossed out that page.
I contemplated telling the guys at work that I had to sleep during my night shift. Doctor’s orders. But I knew that they’d just tease me. “Oh, and this is different HOW?” or something like that.
The next day I went back to my old stomping ground, and slept on the couch. That should screw up the test right off the bat. I had a miserable sleep. 4.5 hours, is what I recorded, although sleeping during the day doesn’t give me nearly the same amount of rest as sleeping comparable hours at night. At one point, I woke up and realized that the clip had fallen off my finger. Great. I put it back on and went back to sleep.
I took the machine back into her office and told her that I didn’t know if the results would be good enough to send to the lab. They send the machine back to a sleep lab somewhere to be interpreted, but she can hook it up to her computer to make sure that the data is at least usable before sending it off. She showed me the graph.
It was actually kinda interesting. It showed at what point I actually fell asleep. It showed that clip came off, and that only 6 minutes had passed before I put it back on, so that was a little surprising. That was good, though. It didn’t muck up the results.
And most important of all, it showed a huge loss of oxygen at the point when I fell asleep. Apparently for a healthy male (I shook my head) my oxygen level should be in the high 90s while sleeping. Mine dropped off into the 70s. (Sounds kinda like my marks after high school) So there’s definitely a blockage of some sort. Yippee.
The company will analyze the data and send their results to my doctor. I have an appointment next month, so I can be sure that she will have all sorts of options for me. Everything from cutting me opened and re-shaping my air passages, to wearing a freaky little mask at night to improve oxygen flow. (Apparently that’s what the CPAP is). None of those sound like very much fun, so unless I’m going to die from this, I think I’ll pass.
But it was an interesting exercise.[I never did bother getting the CPAP…]