(Wheeze) Luke (Wheeze) I AM your father…. (love me, love my CPAP)

A phrase to live by…
Tom Benjamin’s NHL Weblog: About the Donnybrook

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A couple of weeks ago, I said this:

Chuqui 3.0: About Me:

And we’ve been chasing something that’s popped up since I left Apple — I’ve been having some intermitted periods where I simply don’t have any energy. It’s not tired or fatigue, it’s just sudden drop-outs of my energy levels. Because of this, I’m going to be doing an apnea sleep study next week, although I don’t believe that’s “it”, with my weight, it’s a logical next step to check and (hopefully) eliminate (or deal with).

Yesterday, I got the results of the apnea study, and it wasn’t pretty. I also got my CPAP machine, which I’m lovingly modelling above. The details of the study were a lot worse than I expected — averaging 50 events an hour, with a worst-case O2 drop to 58% (the O2 scale runs from 50-100, with 90-100 being normal).

The reason I felt that apnea wasn’t the problem was that — from my point of view — none of the most obvious symptoms of apnea have been present; I’m not waking up during the night, I’m not doing the “active dreaming” (because you can never get into deep REM sleep), I wasn’t waking up tired or fighting the alarm, and in fact, was doing pretty well on 7 hours a night; and a while back, all of that WAS true, before we worked on clearing out the nasal congestion (Allegra for the cats, sudafed for what the allegra doesn’t clear out, and breathe-rights to open the passages; breathe-rights rock, by the way — if you snore, try them…). given that I STILL had what’s clearly a severe case of apnea, one can only wonder how bad it was before we “fixed” it.

That, of course, is why you don’t guess about these things, and in retrospect, I should have taken the test a few years ago.

So, for those who are wondering — what’s Sleep Apnea? Apnea is a condition where your airway closes down, and your ability to breath stops. You can sugar coat it with lots of medical terms adn conditions, but effectively, its as if a cat keeps crawling onto your face and going to sleep. As the sleeper, of course, you end up moving around and starting to wake up to clear the airway (and shoo away the cat), all the while your blood oxygen drops. Apnea can lead to all sorts of fun things, from exhaustion (and more fun things like falling asleep randomly, like when driving), or raised blood pressure, or stroke.

Some apnea stats: current estimates are that 1 in 5 Americans have some form of apnea at least some of the time. The testing/results/training classes I went to started with about 60 people, and they ended up handing off 45 CPAP machines (now, as they noted, you don’t end up IN that class until you’re far enough down the road that the diagnosis is pretty clear… but still); while being overweight and being older don’t help, it’s not a “fat” disease or an “old” disease. the class I was in ranged from a girl in her mid-20′s to a man in his 80′s; and the girl, if he had 10 pounds of extra ‘her’ hanging around, hid it awfully well. So to speak. Not that I was looking; I am married, of course.

The tube of the CPAP wanders off to what can only be described as an aquarium air pump on steroids. The idea is to flow air into the nose to pressurize the system to keep things open. If that sounds, well, funky, well, I can tell you that going to sleep that way the first time was weird — you essentially have this small, localized windstorm going up your nose. Some folks adapt to wearing a CPAP well, some take a couple of weeks. In my case, I had about 20 seconds of claustrophobic panic the first time I put the thing on — and then last night, fell asleep right away, and as far as I can tell, stayed asleep all night. Seems like it’s not going to be a hassle for me.

And — results are very, very early, but I was up a bit late, and we had to set the alarm earlier than normal (5:30), so I’m running on around 6 hours instead of 7-7:30 today, and despite that, I feel more energetic and rested than I have in weeks. It’s a subjective feeling, and after one day, way too early to tell, but — it sure seems like a noticable and huge change for the better.

And I mention it because — maybe, it’ll trigger something with some of you out there, and convince you to go talk to your doctor about it. If you sleep but don’t feel rested. IF you have a tendency (like I did ) to sit down somewhere and “go nappies”, if you’re a heavy snorer — you should at least have the talk.

Although I fully realize that doing the Darth Vader thing is not necessarily going to make your evening if you’re single and bring a friend home, if you fall asleep on the barstool (or at the wheel), she might never come with you in the first place…

Now, off to go study up on CPAP equipment and technology, because if I can guarantee one thing, it’s the the one Kaiser will pay for as part of the coverage is a perfectly decent unit, but not the best on the market, or the one I’ll likely want to stick with.

This entry was posted in Health and Fitness.
  • http://www.stevenjbrolin.com Steve

    I started using a cpap at 16 units of pressure (whatever they are) and it’s been like night and day. After 6 years and a UPPP procedure not working for me, I’ve developed high blood pressure because of it. So I do definitely recommend anyone with those “sleepy” symptoms to get checked!!!

  • Bill Petro

    Hard to tell from the picture but is yours nose only, or nose/mouth mask? Is it just CPAP, APAP, VPAP, BiPAP? Did you go with the humidifier?

  • http://www.liveworld.com Nick Arnett

    Wow — 58 percent oxygen saturation is baaaad. Glad you decided to get the sleep study done. I’ve been on CPAP for about three years now. Luckily, my sats stayed above 80 percent… but I had even more sleep interruptions than you. And apnea gets worse as time goes by, so I’ve had to increase the pressure every year or so (and all this despite losing weight, which helps even though I’m not a big guy). The machine annoys me, but it has made a huge difference in my life. I’m looking at some possible work on my nose to help me stop swallowing air at night, which is an increasing problem. Sure beats being sleepy all the time and dying young.

  • http://www.stefanseiz.com StefanSeiz

    wouldn’t loosing some weight help with that problem too? ;-)

  • http://evanrobinson.typepad.com/ramblings/ Evan Robinson

    I have a Goodnight 420E (it’s my third machine over about 8 years), which has the wonderful attributes:
    1) it’s tiny
    2) it’s dual power
    3) it’s not just a CPAP, it’s also APAP (which automatically adjusts pressure for you over a set range)
    Probably much more interesting to play with than the machine, however, is the mask technology. I use nasal pillows, Sara uses a gel mask. Check out a bunch: some of the materials may irritate your skin, some may actually put a dent in your forehead.
    And consider a humidifier if your nasal passages dry out.
    Oh yeah, the vertical piece of that mask you’re modeling is going to break one night — right between your eyes — make sure you’ve got at least one spare :-)

  • http://www.negrino.com Tom Negrino

    Hi Chuck,
    I was diagnosed several years ago, and I’ve gone through several machines. I need the BiPAP flavor, which makes things more expensive. Last year, I bought a Puritan Bennett GoodKnight 425. It’s incredibly small, and much quieter than my previous Respironics unit. The GoodKnight plus its heated humidifier is smaller and lighter than the other BiPAP alone. It’s great for traveling; I took it on a 3-week trip to NZ and Aus last fall. They have reasonably priced CPAP versions of the same machine.
    By the way, if you haven’t gotten a heated humidifier, I recommend it. I didn’t need one at first, but then I just got to the point where I had too much nasal drying and irritation.
    Got questions? Drop me an email.