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.

 

Sleep Apnea (Part One)

My last post was about my peeking out of denial about my being overweight. Little did I know that there was a bad actor lurking in the shadows that had been affecting my life at least since I was a pre-teen.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? It seemed dramatic to me but like all things that affect my psyche, I was somewhat relieved that there was an answer.

It started with a trip to the dentist. I was asked if I was experiencing any problems as they always do. I haltingly began to list the things that were occurring especially at night like pains in my jaw, soreness in my teeth and gums, headaches… And as I always tend to do started coming up with self diagnoses like TMJ etc. The dentist listened thoughtfully and when I was finished, he ordered me to have a sleep study to diagnose for sleep apnea. He didn’t even give me the option of waiting one day, he told me to call my doctor that day for an appointment. I was puzzled as was my husband and primary care physician as to “why the dentist?’

Dr. Whitman, the dentist, later informed me that most people with sleep apnea have had a tonsilectomy and/or adenoid removal bringing about sinus issues. Both surgeries were very common with my generation. If a kid had a sore throat, out with the tonsils they don’t need them. However, mine were very bad as a result of waiting too long to have the surgery.

My husband wasn’t surprised that I might have sleep apnea because everyone knows I have a tendency to snore loudly and even sometimes snort when I am awake. He has always believed that my ADD was caused by sleep deprivation.

Dr. Washburn, my new pulmonologist was convinced as a result of my answering a few questions and a brief examination of my throat that I had sleep apnea and had for most of my life. In fact, he said he wold bet his next paycheck.  I insisted that I was sleeping well since our move to Colorado and he explained that I was not getting quality sleep. He listed effects of sleep deprivation as follows:

  • Weight gain
  • Snoring
  • Snorting
  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Aches and pains
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Emotional Sensitivity
  • Bursts of Unexplained Anger
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Inability to Concentrate and/or focus
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Daytime Sleepiness
  • Sleepiness while driving, reading, and in general
  • Lack of interest in sex

He said that sleep deprivation can affect every area of your life. I had to admit that I had all of the above. He informed me that rather than my weight causing sleep apnea, the sleep apnea was most likely the cause of my weight gain. Well, I don’t know if I would go that far but both my primary care physician and Dr. Washburn said that I would probably continue to have problems losing weight until I got the apnea under control.

I told Dr. Washburn that the first thing I said every morning was, “I’m so tired.” and that my husband assured me that I couldn’t be tired because I just woke up. Dr. Washburn’s response was, “Of course you are tired, you aren’t getting the rest your body requires.”

I have had sleep studies done in the past but because I had difficulty sleeping, it wasn’t an accurate test. I was diagnosed with upper airway obstruction based on limited data.  I had difficulty sleeping enough for an accurate result and Blue Cross wouldn’t pay because “it wasn’t bad enough” to qualify. I was offered a discount but I declined based on cost and inconvenience.