CPAP THERAPY – Trials and Tribs Part Two and Final

My point in writing this post is to let CPAP users know that there is an abundance of mask styles and designs. Amazon has CPAP Therapy equipment and accessories most often at a lower cost than most online providers. I started with CPAP.com’s website for an overview of available masks. I have a provider who bills Medicare for masks and supplies every three months.

Medicare rented my machine monthly for me for however long it took to get it paid for then it became my property. As I understand it, Medicare and all insurance companies monitor usage through the provider to ensure that I am actually using the machine at least 4 hours a night. I have gone more or less than 4 hours and sometimes not at all with no complaints from Medicare.

If you are new to CPAP Therapy, I recommend that once all the apnea testing is done, be prepared with a request for a mask that you feel will best suit you. If one doesn’t work, try another. It was suggested by my provider that I research mask types and designs on the internet (after my initial standard) and let them know which one (ones) I would like to try and they will order them for me. Medicare pays 100% for all my equipment and accessories. Keep in mind that if you don’t like it, you most likely won’t use it.

Please don’t give up. CPAP Therapy may not be perfect but though it is a lifestyle  changer, it can also be life saver. Sleep deprivation affects your quality of life in ways that may surprise you. I love it! Yes, I did say “love“.

CPAP (Controlled Positive Airway Pressure) Therapy TRIALS AND TRIBS – (Part One of Two)

I have been determined not to give up on CPAP Therapy – actually giving up would be a very bad idea for me since I stopped breathing 699 times during my sleep test.

Being a side sleeper creates problems in CPAP Therapy that do not exist for back sleepers. For me Most masks have fasteners for adjustments that hit me right in the pressure points of my temples and face and dig in when I lay down. I have tried to sleep on my back but it didn’t work for me..

As most CPAP users, I have gone through several masks. First I had the Simplus Full Face mask and it irritated my skin, drove my anxiety up the wall and had a hard plastic forehead support.

Then I got the Dreamwear Nasal Pillow which was pretty cool but it has the hose on top of your head and you can imagine the drawbacks there.

I decided I needed a full face mask because I was a mouth breather so I got the Airfit F20 for Her and again the silicone bothered me even though it had soft wraps.  I decided that I did like the full face better.

So I got the AirTouch F20 for Her and liked the face mask because it was memory foam and had a more comfortable surface texture. I used this one the longest but the fasteners are directly on my pressure points and being a side sleeper, I found this painful thus affecting my sleep. I even developed knots in the fascia of my temples that tthe massage therapist was able to work out.

 Because of the way the bottom of the AirTouch mask rested on the indention abosve my chin, it pretty much forced me to breathe through my nose. I decided to try another nasal pillow mask to see if I could be a nose breather though I was intimidated by the pillows that fit up to your nares (openings to the nose).

The thought of having silicone protrusions in my nose kept me from going this route in the past. However, the pillows do not go into your nose they just inflate to fill the openings.  The Dreamwear mask had a pillow that sat just under your nose where Swift FX for her has different nose pillows but the hose attaches to the front of the mask rather than the top of the head.

I am now using the Airfit P10 for her and it seems to fill the bill for me. It only has 2 straps, comes with adjustment clips and the nasal pillows are of good quality qnd fit nicely. It is comfortable and easy to use. I can even put it on in the dark.

(Continued Part Two)

 

How to Sleep Easier With Your CPAP Machine By John Donovan (WEB MD) Part Three

Learning to Appreciate CPAP

Continued

For most people, these devices are the best way to treat obstructive sleep apnea. The challenge for doctors and sleep specialists is to convince the wary that they’re better off with one than without it.

Aside from poor Zzz’s, though, people who don’t get treatment for the problem face a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, and other health problems.

But most of the time, Rapoport says he tells his patients they can’t knock CPAP until they’ve tried it.

“I would tell people, ‘Try it. Use it part of the time. Let’s get you to the point where you see the benefits. You don’t have to believe me. You’ll see it,’” he says.

Parthasarathy says many of the people he points toward CPAP do see the benefits, some more quickly than they imagined.

 

“I had a patient tell me that he felt like he walked across a desert and finally found water,” he says. “I get comments like, ‘This is the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long, long time.’ Or, ‘I have dreams now. And it’s been a long time since I remember having a dream.’”

How to Sleep Easier With Your CPAP Machine By John Donovan (WEB MD) Part Two

CONTINUED

Your doctor and sleep specialist can help you make sure everything works and fits as it should.“It’s like wearing shoes. You buy a new pair of shoes, they’re initially going to chafe or hurt you. Or a new pair of glasses — you become very conscious of them,” says Sairam Parthasarathy, MD, medical director of the Center for Sleep Disorders at the University of Arizona. “But after a while, it becomes second nature. You put it on without thinking.”

Noise: In the old days, CPAP machines were clunky and loud. Instead of a whoosh, it was more of a WHOOSH. Some made metallic, clicking sounds.

But that was then. Machines today are smaller, quieter, and much less noticeable. Many brands are near-silent. That’s a bonus not only to CPAP users, but to their bed partners too.

Pressure: Machines have different air pressure settings. Some of them vary it depending on whether you’re inhaling or exhaling. Your doctor will help you figure out the level that’s comfortable for you and helps you the most.

Dryness: Some CPAP users say all that forced air dries out the nose and mouth. Many machines have humidifiers to fix that. Some even heat the moist air.

Trouble breathing through your nose: If you feel stuffed up from allergies, sinus problems, or a physical issue with your nose, you may have trouble using a CPAP machine. But the problem usually goes away when you treat your congestion, whether with medicine, allergy treatments, or sometimes surgery.

“A lot of people have nasal obstruction or congestion and they don’t even know it.” Parthasarathy says. Treatment for those problems makes CPAP work much better for them.

 
 

How to Sleep Easier With Your CPAP Machine By John Donovan (WEB MD) Part One

I want to share the following article written by John Donovan and published on Web MD. I have found that using a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine has honestly improved my quality of life. My hope is that this article will help my fellow Sleep Apnea victims to better adapt to CPAP Therapy.

Your doctor wants you on a CPAP machine to help your sleep apnea. You might worry you’ll be tied to a noisy gadget all night with tubes there, a mask here, and straps going every which way.

It can seem overwhelming, says David Rapoport, MD, the director of research at the NYU Sleep Disorders Center. 

“We work very hard to try to get people to be more open to the idea,” he says. “What’s remarkable is, when they try it, they often say, ‘That’s not so bad.’”

There may be some hurdles at first, but they don’t have to be deal-breakers. Once you know what to do, you can sleep well with a CPAP machine.

Get to Know Your Gear

When you have sleep apnea, you can stop breathing, briefly, up to 30 times or more an hour when your airways close or get blocked. CPAP, short for continuous positive airway pressure, pushes air into them to keep them open. 

The machine has a pump that controls the airflow, a tube that carries the air from the machine to you, and a mask that goes over your mouth, nose, or both.

Some things about it may take some getting used to:

Masks and straps: If you’ve never slept with something on your face, it’ll probably take some time for you to wear the CPAP mask without thinking about it.

Most modern ones fall in one of three groups:

  • A nasal mask that goes over your nose
  • A “nasal pillow mask” that fits under your nose
  • A full mask, which covers your mouth and nose 

Among those three main types, there are kinds including:

  • Full-face masks that go over your eyes as well
  • Nose masks with prongs that go into your nose

As long as the mask is sealed enough so that the air pressure from the tube stays constant, the CPAP will do its job. It’s up to you to find out which type is most comfortable on your face, and which straps are best to hold it in place. You may have to try a few different types before you find one you like.

 

Sleep Apnea (Part Three of Three)

My sister takes very good care of her health but has constant dark circles under her eyes and gets tired and sleepy along with other symptoms. My brother also has dark circles and so many symptoms that it is a no brainer. He recently had surgery and his condition deteriorated to the point where it appeared he wouldn’t live. Doctors could not understand what caused it because the surgery wasn’t major enough to bring it about. He has always been slow to heal but this was very serious. I’m no doctor but knowing what I know now, I would bet that it has to do with his sleep apnea. However, as I have written before there comes a point where you just have to let go and allow people make their own decisions and experience consequences.

I had a lady tell me that her husband has obvious Sleep Apnea but is too macho to use a CPAP machine. Using a machine for a minimum of four hours a night for the rest of your  life seems to be the main deterrent. Yet, many have become dependent on sleep medications that don’t last more than four hours and do not supply restful sleep. I thought I was sleeping good after we moved to Colorado from Texas but in actuality I was getting very little restful sleep. In my opinion, most of us don’t give enough credibility to how important sleep is to our overall health.

Once I overcame many of the obstacles to sleeping comfortably with the CPAP, I have come to truly enjoy using it. I love the feeling of fresh air blowing into my face and have added aromatherapy to keep my sinuses clear. I have had a need to have air blowing in my face for quite some time thinking it was helping me breathe and it was. It’s nice to no longer have to lie awake for 2 hours before getting to sleep or dread going to bed knowing that sleep won’t come easily.

I now fall asleep easily and pretty much sleep through the night. I previously would get up sometimes 10 times a night to empty my bladder. While I would go a little, it was not enough to justify getting up for most people. But I could not sleep because I was obsessed with the urge to go. The truth of the matter is that often I would worry that I would have to get up which triggered the power of suggestion.

Getting adjusted to using the CPAP is not a walk in the park for most people but the suppliers know this and have come up with products that make using it more tolerable. There are many, many people who are dependent on CPAP therapy and most experience or have experienced common issues. By sharing what works for each of us, we all benefit. There is even a forum for CPAP users.

I have found cushy covers to pad the straps and liners for my mask that keep me from having air leaks and increases comfort. I add aromatherapy to keep my sinuses clear negating the day to day sinus cleansing and I have a hose management aid. Medicare pays for new masks complete with headgear and filters every 3 months and per my doctor’s  prescribed that I be provided a mask of my choice and I have been through four before I found the one that is right for me. I no longer have the whooshing sound of the air coming in and out and don’t hear my breathing magnified. Being diligent in my therapy has improved my lie immensely after just four months.

Physically, mentally and emotionally I feel much more healthy. I have more energy and feel more alert, and I find it easier to manage my anxiety and impulse control. I still get sleepy during the day but it is getting better.

If you suspect or if someone suggests that you have sleep apnea, please at least get tested or suggest that they be tested. It is much more important than you might think.

 

Sleep Apnea (Part Two of Three Parts)

When I told Dr. Washburn that I was sleeping well at night, he explained to me that my apneas (breathing stops) would cause my brain to shout, “Wake up, wake up and breathe” I would start breathing and be right back to sleep without even realizing that I woke up. There were times that I probably woke up without realizing why and thought I had to use the potty explaining why I would go up to 10 times a night.

Having the apnea documented in order for insurance to pay for the therapy is a hoop jumping process. I went through a regimen of tests which included x-rays and blood tests to rule out everything else, a home sleep study, a lab sleep study and four pulse Oximetry’s.

The first test was pulse oximetry I had that showed a significant drop in heart rate when I slept. I don’t recall the numbers but the pulmonologist explained that I woke up 94 times. I was in denial because I certainly didn’t remember waking that many times. He explained that when my heart rate dropped or I stopped breathing, my brain would alert me to wake up and start breathing. He said I wouldn’t be conscious of being awake for the periods of time it took to start breathing again because they were very short. A technician also explained to me that we can be awake without being conscious of it which explains my being awake for two hours without it seeming like it. As if that wasn’t scary enough, I did a home sleep study that showed that I stopped breathing 699 times in about 6 hours.

I was put on a trial 30 day CPAP (Constant Positive Airway Pressure) therapy. The CPAP provider monitors my sleep and breathing activity by transmissions from my machine directly to them and the provider keeps the Pulmonologist apprised.

I had to have an in-lab sleep study done after the 30 day trial period to show that the therapy was working. My apneas were greatly reduced though my heart rate still drops enough that the pulmonologist wanted to add oxygen titration to my machine. The study showed that it wasn’t much under the satisfactory minimum so Medicare said no. Heck, I was just happy to have them pay for the machine and supplies. I had been fortunate in that I had turned 65 right before the therapy was prescribed so I had to go on Medicare in addition to Blue Cross Blue Shield. Medicare has less stringent requirements than Blue Cross. I am sure I would have qualified even for Blue Cross since my tests showed the Sleep Apnea to be severe.

 

Denial

Up until I had a hysterectomy and got happy (yes at the same time), I was tiny, bitty.

11979633-young-business-women-arguingPeople would criticize and comment and ridicule and I would try to gain weight to the point of making myself sick. Be careful what you wish for because now people are “worried” because I am overweight and I have no idea what they say behind my back.

18465933-fish-dish--fried-fish-fillet-french-fries-with-vegetablesI don’t think I gained all this weight overnight and I’m sure eating whatever I wanted had something to do with it. You see, I had developed that habit when I was thin so it was a part of me. My mother tried to tell me when I was younger that I was developing bad eating habits that would catch up with me. To be fair, I was and am a vegetable eater though not exclusively. As the weight was added, I would tell myself that a little weight wouldn’t hurt and I avoided the mirror like the plague. I was happy to be able to buy adult clothes and liked my face being a little fuller.

3487178-dos-muchachas-j-venes-intimidaci-n-otra-ni-a-al-aire-libreThen I started to worry that people wouldn’t want to be around me or like me
because I’m fat. There were actually articles as I was growing up on not hanging out with the “fat” or “ugly” chick in order to be seen as successful. Have you ever noticed that almost any magazine you pick up has an article on weight loss? While I agree that it is important to stay healthy, some people’s body types can handle a little added weight, mine isn’t one of them.

16686055-female-skier-looking-at-the-camera-after-falling-down-on-mountain-slopeNot only does the weight make me look unbalanced, it has affected my health. Being 4’11” my BMI is ridiculous and I now have to take blood pressure medicine, reflux medication even after having reflux surgery, medicine for high cholesterol… Having moved to high altitude country, I am constantly out of breath and because I have all my weight in the lower front, I fear falling over when I do outdoor activities. I can get up but I fear that someday I won’t be able to.

Family conflictWhen I recently took a trip to Texas, my mother made comments about my weight that she tried to backtrack by telling me that to her I would always be beautiful. My family have no filters so I tried to dismiss it. When I got back home, I wrote mom a letter telling her to stop worrying about my weight and making all these bold excuses and explanations. Being the child of an alcoholic, I know denial when I see it and that letter was complete and utter denial.

Weight loss surgery had been suggested by a previous doctor but I am fearful about A_Black_and_White_Cartoon_Two_Children_Walking_To_School_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_100713-145833-444053something that will change my life forever. I did my research, made an appointment with my new doctor and requested that my husband accompany me. I feel like whatever decision I make is going to affect both of us and also he knows medication. Another fear I have is becoming addicted to weight loss medication.

Danny and I had already discussed a new medication that has been successful in 9319250-two-young-business-people-talking-and-discussingaiding weight loss. He was familiar with it and knew that it had been helpful in weight loss with little to no side affects. It was decided in my doctor’s appointment that we would start with this medication called Contrave and go from there. The doctor said that her patients who had tried it had experienced success in losing and keeping it off. Thoughweight loss surgery would see faster results, getting insurance companies to pay for it is tricky. Even though I have most if not all the conditions that they take into account, they will still balk at paying. So we made a plan that I would come in monthly to be weighed and check in with her so we will have documentation to present to the insurance company as well as monitoring my progress.

I would like to tell you that I have seen huge changes at least in my eating habits but I 9052883-a-shopping-cart-full-of-fresh-colorful-products-illustrationtend to be a lightweight when it comes to some medications. The drug makes me extremely drowsy so I am only taking half doses at this time. I still have to surrender to the drowsiness but it’s manageable. I am noticing a small change in my eating but some of it is knowing that I can’t just rely on medication. Fake it till you make it!

Gaining and losing WeightMy take on dieting is that unless you keep it up for the rest of your life,
it becomes the yo-yo effect. I lose inches fairly easy but as soon as I get the compliments and see the results, I’m right back to where I started. Some people eat to live and I live to eat. I do use common sense when I cook and mostly when I eat though binging is not unheard of. Yes, I will have to add exercise to my regimen. I do like walking so I just need to get started.

I am hopeful that this journey will take me to better health and increased self acceptance. It’s time.

images.duckduckgo.com

Life Happens Too!

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With every move we gain and we lose. We lost the creek but gained a forest like back yard and more isolation. Not really isolated but the houses are further apart. The first time we came to this house, I stood on the back deck and felt totally at peace. Our back yard is nothing but Pondorosa Pines (very tall) and all is very quiet. However, it is winter and the snow birds are back in warmer climate. In the mornings when I fix my coffee, I stare out the window and the sun shines through the pines yet we lost the view of the stars every night through the ceiling skylight over our bed. I don’t feel the loss as much as I feel the sense of wholeness and I can feel myself evolving. I guess it has become a combination of our home in Texas and our house on the creek.

The house itself has radiant in-floor heating and two fireplaces. There is a main floor and a walk out fully finished basement containing two bedrooms (one being Danny’s office) and a media/family room. The master and a bedroom (my office) are on the main floor. The main floor is totally open. We have reserved the living area upstairs as a quiet area – no television. It has a fireplace and is set up to be more formal. We enjoy solitude or spending quiet together time there. Our bedroom is huge and has a sitting area. Ceilings are Alder wood as are floors except the bedrooms which are carpeted. The house also has nice architectural features. There is a downstairs patio and an upper deck. It is a nice place for Danny and me to be separate together. Though it is a rental, we have full permission to make it our own with paint etc.

I have started a Law Enforcement Transcription business and am in the assessment phase of a contract. I have done the first part and am awaiting the results. It was more difficult than I anticipated because law enforcement transcription has to be verbatim and though I have always been good at voice recognition, when the voices are similar – not so easy. I did enjoy the work and am looking forward to improvement. Having done clerical work within a police department and having a soft spot in my heart for it, I am truly excited. I do have to say that doing this work without the benefit of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and blood pressure meds made it all the more difficult.😬 Note to self: Order your mail-order refills early. I love that I work from home and have the privacy of my own office.

Christmas is bought and shipped. We are having steak for our Christmas dinner which is a luxury on our new budget. I won a Big Green Egg cooker when we did the Parade of Homes to the tune of $1,000 so we are anxious to try it out. We were considering buying a George Foreman since our BBQ pit bit the dust in the original move but while we were working it into the budget, I won this state of the art dude. Woo Hoo!

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Wanted to let you know that I am still alive and kicking!

Useful Mental Health Lifelines