Well, my few faithful readers, another week gone by and nothing posted – anywhere. Also very few blogs visited. my apologies. I’ve been somewhat out of it this week. For those of you who have followed my posts about the Sleep Study and Results, well, I’ve been sleeping with my CPAP Mask all week, aside from one night when I really had to get some quality rest. 😉
As I mentioned last Sunday, my CPAP arrived. So I’ve been wearing this breathing mask for the past week. And please take note, that picture is not me, it’s just an example illustration of my new mask, lol. Though I admit, my hair is not much longer than his, so it’s a pretty fair representation. Wearing such a mask is not pretty. Luckily, no one has to see me in it!
The mask itself is designed to cover my nose, and is not uncomfortable. In fact, I’ve not had any problems falling asleep with it. It takes me no longer than usual.The air flow is adjusted to be mild during the first 20 minutes, so as to allow breathing as normally as possible. It gets stronger after that, but I’ve never lain awake long enough to experience the change. I also have a humidifier built in to keep it from drying out the trachea and sinuses. The first night I had to adjust it a bit as it had me coughing from too dry air, but since then it’s been okay.
Sound perfect so far? Hmm… well,,, there are a few minor problems. One problem is that it wakes me at least once or twice a night with a headache. I am not prone to headaches, but this gives me one – on the forehead. I am pretty sure it’s from the pressure of the upper band, but I keep it as loose as I can without leaking air. I’m hoping this will eventually go away.
Second problem is that sometimes air leaks out my mouth. This morning I woke with the sound of air rushing in my ears, kind of like in a tunnel, and I realized my mouth was open and air was leaking out the mouth, and my mouth feeling dry as a bone. I already have problems with dry mouth due to some damaged saliva glands, but wow, this morning it was like sandpaper! Ick! I really don’t want to have to go with a full nose and mouth mask, but I may have to.
Third and last problem? Well, the whole idea of this thing is to make me feel more rested, have more energy during the day. Right? It’s not working. In fact, just the opposite. I find myself falling asleep at the keyboard, so to speak, dozing off, feeling drowsy most of the morning, even after my 2 coffees. Afternoons I’m not sleepy, but just tired, though probably no more tired than usual. Point is, it’s not working.
I’m going to call on Monday and tell them all this, see what they say. Maybe a different mask is needed.
There is one other thing that worries me. Though we don’t have frequent power outages, we do occasionally have them, and sometimes during the night. Did you ever wake in the morning to find your digital clock blinking 12:00? So, what happens if the power goes out? I’ll still have airflow from my own breathing, as there is a ventilation element on the end of the mask, but I read this in the instruction manual and it kinda freaked me:
“When the CPAP machine is turned on and functioning properly, new air from the CPAP machine flushes the exhaled air out through the attached mask exhalation port. However, when the CPAP machine is not operating, enough fresh air will not be provided through the mask, and exhaled air may be rebreathed. This warning applies to most models of CPAP systems. Rebreathing of exhaled air for longer than several minutes can, in some circumstances, lead to suffocation.”
Carbon Dioxide… CO2. Not good.
Okay, okay, it’s not likely to happen, and I imagine if the power did go out I’d probably revert to breathing through the mouth, at least i hope so. Meanwhile, I think I may remove it during stormy weather . . .
As a backup, I’ve decided to get an oxymeter. One that has an alarm if oxygen levels go too low. That should prevent any danger – provided I’m not sleeping on my good ear, lol. (I’m rather deaf in my left ear, especially for high frequency sounds like alarm beeps.)
There is another reason I want to get the oxymeter. . .
To check up on the CPAP. I know, but it’s just my intuition speaking. One night last week, I just couldn’t take it and slept without the mask. I slept well, and the next day, felt normal – as in Judee’s normal, which is probably a bit different from the average normal.
So, I’m going to test it out. The oxymeter I am buying can keep a constant record up to 24 hours, and that record can be downloaded onto the PC through USB. So I’m going to record a couple of nights with the CPAP, and then record a night without the CPAP, and see what it shows. I don’t know when I’ll get it, I had to order from Amazon UK. They had the same model in Amazon.FR (France) which is practically next door to Switzerland, but for some reason they refused to ship it.
But get it, I will, eventually, and hope to at least get some reassurance that the CPAP is doing what it needs to do to get me more oxygen at night.
There’s other stuff going on, of course, life is not just about the CPAP, but right now my eyes are getting sleepy, and I’m almost dozing off here as I type, so that’s my signal to sign off.
Y’all have a great week!
Okay, so I snore. 😉
The problem is, it’s more than just snoring. Apparently I’ve been diagnosed with moderate to high Sleep Apnea (pauses in breathing) with periods of Hypopnea (abnormally shallow breathing), both of which cause a disruption in the levels of blood oxygen. I also have periods of “mysterious” (unexplained) lowering of blood oxygen that are not specifically correlated with the above two conditions. I’ve linked to Wikipedia for anyone wanting more technical info.
Here’s a lovely little graphic, I just know you’re going to appreciate. 😉 Basically, what is happening, is that my breathing sometimes becomes obstructed (the snoring part) when the back of the tongue and soft palate relax too much against the airway, thus closing it off. Eventually, the brain decides it needs oxygen and begins to insist a bit and forces an intake of air, that then will rattle against the throat and cause the snoring sound.
Keep in mind that while apnea is often accompanied by snoring, snoring does not necessarily mean that there is apnea. There are many other causes of snoring. In my case, some, but not all of the apnea “events” are related to snoring, or obstruction. The others are related to shallow breathing.
I’ve been aware of the shallow breathing for awhile now – it happens during the day, too. When I’m concentrated on something, like typing this post, my breathing can slow down to be almost imperceptible. It’s shallow, slow, and sometimes simply pauses, even though I’m awake. I can be doing something and become vaguely aware that I’m not breathing, or breathing very shallowly, at which point I will take a deep breath and continue on with whatever I was doing.
That’s why I wanted to do the sleep study, because I figure if I’m doing that during the day, what might be happening at night? Well, now I know.
My oxygen levels are de-saturating during the night. I have the report with all the charts and levels, and a pattern becomes visible, shallow respiration, oxygen goes down, heart rate increases and at some point, the depth of sleep is interrupted, it rises toward waking, and I start breathing more deeply and oxygen goes back up.
Apparently, though, this is happening too often and the oxygen is remaining too low and the increases in heart rate are not good for the heart, and the lack of oxygen isn’t good for the brain, and the disrupted sleep is not good for anything.
Lol, that’s a lot of “not good”s in there, huh? But there is treatment. It’s called a CPAP, and it’s a kind of mask one wears at night that forces airflow into the mouth and nostrils to keep the air passage open. I’m getting one set up for me next Friday. I’ve been told it’s hard to get used to, and some people cannot adapt, but others can. There are also several kinds of masks, so if one doesn’t work, another might. I know it looks cumbersome, but hey, at least I don’t have to have an oxygen tank, right? This is just air flow. Hopefully by keeping my air passage open, it will help increase the oxygen flow to the blood.
I’m a little bit concerned about the unexplained incidents of low oxygen, though, and may ask my doctor to refer me to a LungDoc and let him look at the sleep study and maybe do a daytime oxygen monitoring to see what’s happening. But I may wait and see how this goes first. One thing at a time.
Anyway, there is good news to all this. It could explain some of my fatigue during the day, even some of my fuzzy thinking and a lot of other minor things I’ve been attributing to simple ageing, or to my meds, etc. Apparently, even my eyesight might improve, because one of the symptoms listed for the low oxygen levels was eye fatigue. Imagine that.
I’m actually looking forward to giving it a try to see if it improves how I feel in general. I’ve got a week to wait before I can try it, but I’m hoping for the best. Meanwhile, I figure a few deep breathing exercises during the day might be helpful, and certainly can’t hurt. Come on, along with me:
Get oxygenated. It’s good for you!
Now that is an experience I am not likely to repeat, lol! Of course, I need to wait for the analysis, to see if it revealed anything interesting, so maybe it was worth it, time will tell. Please note, the following is not a rant. I’m too easy going to rant, lol, I’m just letting you know what happened, and half chuckling to myself as I write, so read it in that tone, please. (I did say half-chuckle, so if anyone wants to feel sympathy for me they can.) 😉
I should have known by the way it started that it was going to be a long night. It was slated for 9:30 pm, but I left 45 minutes early so I wouldn’t have to drive in the night, or evening dusk – my eyes don’t do well with night driving, and we’re not quite far enough along in DST. Dusk is around 9 pm, followed by dark by 9:30, so I wanted to get there by 8:45 at least. On my way there, it started to rain – and get somber, and it was already like driving in dusk. Bad calculation on my part, I guess. I had seen the clouds, just didn’t realize they would blow in so soon.
Still, rain is not a problem, and I got there around 8:45. They had told me to park in the free parking on the other side of the Clinic, which I did. It was still raining. I got drenched getting to that Clinic entry. Umbrella, you say? Yeah, I admit it, I forgot one – for that matter, I don’t think I even own one as I go out so infrequently and usually park in sheltered areas. I guess I should buy one and keep it in my car. Don’t you love the little lessons life throws at you constantly? 🙂
So there I was at the entry – and it was closed. Message to enter at the other entry, the one I would have parked at anyway – so I went back to my car, drenching again, and made it over the main clinic parking and entrance. Got more drenched getting to that entry, and headed to the tea room where they have comfy sofas and chairs. I was just ready to settle into a comfy chair when they told me they were closing in 5 minutes at 9pm – so up I got again, and went to sit in a chair in the lobby that is so not comfortable, in fact very uncomfortable for me. Signs! Signs! Always easier to see in retrospect.
I really wish I had a picture to show you. So just go along and try to imagine it.
I was finally taken to the Sleep Clinic, at 9:30 on the dot by the young technician who was to be my night guardian – he had to be in his early 20’s, and later told me he was studying, and this was his night job once a week, so for once my estimate was probably correct. Next I put on my pyjamas, and when I come back into the room, he tells me to take off my top. Just so you know, I’m used to this. Um, not used to being seen half naked by young men, just being seen half naked by medical technicians. Anyway, he didn’t have anything interesting to see, lol, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been embarrassed.
So I stand there while he wraps a soft, stretchy belt around me just below my breasts. On the belt is a rectangular box with several wires running out of it. One main cord hangs down from it and leads to a bigger box on the wall. He then puts two bands of a thin material with fine wires woven through it around my upper chest and my stomach. These have wires that connect into the central box, and apparently measure the chest and belly movement of breathing. Other wires go to some electrodes for the heart, and some for the legs.
Finally, it’s time for the head. I sit in a chair and he pulls over a tall metal stand with a metal tube in a circle at the top and a ton of wires running down the center of it and coming out on all sides. This is for the head. After putting a kind of net over my head and leaving it around my neck, he puts an oxygen thing on me with little tubes for the nostrils. No it doesn’t go to an oxygen tank, it somehow measures breath flow through the nostrils. For the last stage, and probably the one that takes the longest, the technician puts a bunch of little electrodes on my head, one by one, with some kind of gel to help them stick. This is followed by a few more electrodes on my face, that he fastens with tape. then pulls the net that was around my neck up over my face and head, cutting an opening just big enough for my eyes, nose, and mouth. Lovely. I really do wish I had a picture. 😉
After all that, I’m supposed to sleep? Ha! Well, it wasn’t that bad. If you had put me in my water-bed, I probably would have drifted right off as usual. I normally sleep on my back anyway. But this bed? It was hard. I mean really hard. One of the hardest mattresses I’ve ever been on. I was expecting something like a hospital bed, but nope – this mattress would never have bent like a hospital bed can do. It was that hard.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well. It seemed like it took me a long while to fall asleep, and even then I kept waking through the night. It was more like napping than sleeping, though I guess I did sleep some, because morning finally came, I was detached and sent to the shower, and the young tech brought me coffee and another little form to fill out. The form asked about my sleep during the previous night. I managed to be polite and answer the questions honestly.
Anyway, it’s done. And the sleep specialist will study it and give his analysis, which will probably say something about me not sleeping well, which is not usually the case for me. All I really want to know is if I’m getting enough oxygen as I sleep – they did put an oxygen monitor on my finger, and I woke with numbness on my face, which is what I wanted to find out about. My right hand was also completely numb (that one has to be positional) which happens from time to time. If they can assure me that my breathing is okay and I’m getting enough oxygen in the night, then it will be worth it., and I can consider the numbness as something positional.
It’s nice to be home. Even nicer to know my water-bed will be there for me tonight. I love my water-bed, and it’s the one thing I wish I could take with me when I move, but that I can’t, as it is way too big for an apartment sized bedroom. Oh well, at least I can appreciate it while it’s here. 🙂
So that’s the tale. If any of you have to go in for a sleep study, at least you’ll know what to expect. It wasn’t that bad, certainly benign, and hopefully worth it. I just hope that if any of you do have to do this, they at least put you in a comfortable bed!
Sleep well, all. 🙂