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June 4, 2010

The Adventures of CPAP

   The technician who completed my sleep study said I had sleep apnea and he thought it was moderate.  Once the doctor received the official results, she called me and it turns out I'm in the severe category.  According to the information I received, that means I stop breathing over 30 times per hour when I'm sleeping.  They also determined it is possible that I have restless leg syndrome based on sleep movements (but I don't think I do.)  On top of that, it appears that I possibly have some sort of obstruction in my sinuses that is causing me to be stuffy all the time.  I've wondered about this for a while, but never actually checked it out. 

   The initial plan is to simply treat the sleep apnea and see how it affects the other symptoms.  If those symptoms continue, we might look at things like medication for the leg thing, or a visit to an ear, nose and throat specialist to check out my sinuses.  Treatment for the sleep apnea is all about the CPAP.

   Continuous Positive Airway Pressure - long story short, it is a small machine that hooks to a mask over my nose that forces air in.  The air puts enough pressure on my breathing passages that it doesn't allow them to collapse so that I stop breathing.  I got the machine hooked up last night and used it for the first time.  The device itself is pretty nice and much smaller than I expected.  It has a little humidifier tank on the front that has optional heat, a timer that starts the machine at a lower pressure so I can fall asleep easier and then bumps it up, and a nice carrying case for all my away games. 

    I love how it feels when I am breathing...it's almost like having a breathe right strip on in terms of how it feels to breath.  Everything is so open and it feels like I get so much more air.  It is a little awkward to sleep with though and I'm sure I'll get used to it.  When I roll over, I have to grab the tubes and take them with me, and I have a tough time sleeping fully on my stomach because the mask won't let me lay quite right on the pillow.  At some point, I remember partially waking up and thinking it was time to take off the mask - so I did.  Within minutes, I was snoring and it woke Sandra up and we got it back on.  Not sure what I was dreaming or thinking of. 

   I read something about sleep apnea yesterday that said most people obviously don't know they stop breathing at night until someone else tells them.  People can go for years without knowing about this and they will feel sluggish and tired all the time.  However, it takes so long to find out you have sleep apnea that you assume how you feel is normal.  I fit this description a bit.  I still feel tired today, but I honestly think this is going to help me a lot in the tiredness area.  I won't go as far as to say I am improving after one night, but at least I don't feel like I'll nod off right now.  We'll see how the second night goes.

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