Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Big Sleep

I spent the night in a sleep lab wired up like a cyborg.  I was diagnosed with apnea about ten years ago, but it's time to be reevaluated so I can trade in my old worn out equipment for the fancy new stuff.  

After sleeping for two hours and determining that YES, it's true, I really do have sleep apnea, the techs started trying out different masks and airspeeds to see which one best alleviates the symptoms. I think snoring like a freight train is the technical term.  

The people running the test get paid to monitor you like air traffic controllers from another room -- with wires that record eyes open/closed, mouth open/closed, nose breathing, jaw clenching, brain waves moving, heart rate, number of respirations, legs kicking, etc. 

They tried three different kinds on me -- two for over the nose, one for over the nose and mouth. They tried steady air at different pressures [CPAP] as well as higher pressure when I inhaled and less when I exhaled [BI-PAP]. 
If you have any claustrophobia, you may have some issues with anything covering your nose.  I ripped off the nose and mouth combo mask within two minutes of letting them put it on. I can deal with my nose covered. But not my mouth.  

Wearing a breathing mask on your face, aside from how quickly it can kill your sex life, is a little like trying to breathe inside a coffin, lid closed, buried underground. There is a new, less ghoulish, and easier to wear option, but last night it wasn't available.

As for the sense of impending doom which can overtake you as you try to sleep with your face tucked inside a Bozo nose, some of that fear goes away when the person with her hand on the controls remembers to turn up the air pressure so enough oxygen gets to your lungs.  I think I yelled, "MORE AIR PLEASE!" at least ten times before I didn't feel like I was trying to breathe with a pillow over my face.  

To add to the attractive robot configuration of the mask with the hosenose coming of out it like an elephant trunk, it turns out I needed yet another hideous device to keep my mouth closed.  And I wonder why I live alone.  

The good news is maybe next time there's a wellness check at my place I can scare one of the responding officers to death when they tear back the covers on my bed. 

If that could happen, there would be no bad news.   


cw2smom said...

LOL! I am a CPAP user and LOVE it! I am/was horribly claustrophobic until getting used to the nose mask. Now...I am almost panicked to NOT have the thing on my face as it helps so much! This week I went several days without it once the machine took on a life of its own and started changing air pressure/speeds repeatedly! Got a new machine under warranty but it took a few days. The RT is RX the nasal pillows mask..which I might try soon! It comes with some kind of special padding to prevent the mask strap lines on the face. And..I don't know about you...but I don't need any extra LINES on my face in the morning! Sleep well! Lisa

Remo said...

My head is exploding. I'll be back.

Anne said...

You just can't keep a good woman down. Anne

Chris said...

I can't imagine being able to sleep with anything on my face like that. Do you ever actually get used to it?