I’ve had trouble sleeping for a long time. I’d wake up with this hazy, hung over feeling, couldn’t focus, and had the humiliating experience of having to multiply 9×6 in Excel because I couldn’t remember my times tables (that’s what we used to call them back in the day, young’uns.) I would take power naps on weekend afternoons, my snores scaring the cat and causing excessive drool spots on the couch. Energy was a thing of the past and my charming nature eroded into wrinkle causing crankiness.
“Early Alzheimer’s,” I opined. “Cancer. Something associated with the chronic illnesses that walk with me daily like a particularly yappy dog nipping at my ankles. Age. Bad pillow. Depression. The lack of intricate, PD James like mysteries on the current book market. Too much sun. Too much chocolate (as if there could ever be such a thing.)” So I consulted my doctor. Eventually. And I was sent to Sleep Health Centers to determine if I had sleep apnea. The year was 2007.
It really doesn’t sound like a medical issue, does it? It sounds like some sort of growth that hangs off of a non-vital organ, like “you’ve got an apnea on your appendix,” or “I just got an apnea removed from my big toe and boy, does my foot feel better.”
And it turns out, after a test where I was fitted with wires and a plastic mask and plunked into a bed in a holiday inn-ish room (convinced I wouldn’t sleep with all the electrodes), I was diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea.
Here’s a vid with fantastic, doom music and a guy who looks like the father from “Diffr’ent Strokes” experiencing sleep apnea.
Nasty, right? And so I was perscribed a sleep machine, a large black monster with a hose and a mask that covered most of my face, squeezing my cheeks together, wrapped around my head with velcro strapping.
I looked like one of Darth Vader’s minions strapped into his star fighter. And the sound the machine made, a gurgley, windy rattle, drove me nuts.
But most of all, I kept thinking…
“What will my currently non-existent, but hoped for, future lover make of this?” (Of course loud snoring and the sound of choking is sooo attractive…)
And that question, along with waking up with potato face caused by the tight mask, led to less and less use until the machine disappeared into a deep dresser drawer and the plastic tubing became just another cat toy.
Tired, cranky years passed. The sun set, the moon rose, I woke myself up with my snoring, and I continued to feel lousy. In 2012, I got my first full-time job in 17 years, and found myself on the subway train at 6:45am with my head thrown back against the window being discreetly elbowed by the woman sitting next to me because my snoring sounded like geese mating. Now, this only has to happen to you 18 or 19 times for you to decide to do something about it.
And so I reluctantly asked my doctor to hook me up with a sleep specialist so I could get this taken care of.
Sleep management has changed radically since my first experience with Sleep Health Centers. Now you can take home a small device with nasal oxygen and a finger pulse monitor and it measures whether or not you have apnea. It comes with a little card that the doctor can insert into his computer which displays the results. My doctor diagnosed me again with the moderate version and prescribed a sleep machine, assuring me it wasn’t the black block of full throttle airline engine nose and plastic death mask that was my last experience.
I arrived at Blah Blah Home Care Center to be greeted by Frank, a sweet Santa of a man who was my technician for this magical experience. The first thing Frank said, peering earnestly into my face, was, “Young lady, sleep deprivation is torture.” I have to agree. I found out later that Frank starts off with this daunting line because many people are like me during my first experience with the machine–unwilling to use it, or unwilling to take the time to adjust to it. Frank has used a CPAP for years, as has his wife, Nancy, and they feel so much better. Frank told me it gave him his life back. He lost weight, experienced the reversal of a heart condition and stepped back from the brink of pre-diabetes. He explained that when your blood isn’t being fully oxygenated, many health problems can result.
Well, d’uh, Divdash.
And so, in its blog debut, please welcome the Phillips Respironics REMstar Auto A-Flex continuous positive airway pressure machine, a welcome addition to any household where snores are shaking the foundations and swinging the chandeliers.
The mask is much smaller and the polymer plastic that rests against my face doesn’t squash it. The strapping is lightweight and doesn’t tear my hair out by its follicles, and the machine is whisper quiet.
It COULD be that I’m just more willing to try it out and adjust to it, but I prefer to think I, like any millennial, required the advanced technology.
copyright 2014 jcraig