CPAPpin’ II: Electric Boogaloo

January 22nd, 2007  |  Published in etc

Almost a whole work week of CPAPpin’ and what to say? Adjustments continue.

As I mentioned last time, I was given two masks: one that’s sort of the standard low-end model, and another with fancier stuff, like a gel liner. The fancier one bothers me less because of its fit and finish and more because it’s a little noisier … there’s a sort of whistling sound through what I take to be vents where the hose connects to the mask’s swivel. I guess the way the mask straps work is a little fussy, too. I woke up early in the morning twice this past week to take the mask off, which has meant a few seconds of fumbling around with the closure strap to get it back on. It involves a ball on the end of one half of the clasp and a slot on the other half. It’s not the most intuitive thing, but its design offers a way to untwist the straps without having to take off and reclip the straps. Anyone who’s rassled with a kid’s car seat strap will empathize.

I think I figured out why I was taking it off those first few nights, as well: I had a good seal on the lower part of the mask, but a loose one up top. I was shifting enough that the mask was losing its seal up by my eyes and shooting the air into them, which triggered a natural desire to get the damn thing off my face.

I have also taken to using the ramp button, despite not feeling like I needed it. That’s the button that sets the initial pressure from the device to half of where it should end up. That makes the machine a lot less noisy while I’m trying to get to sleep. When the furnace kicks in I can’t even hear it.

There’s also been a process of slowly learning how much tension is needed for the mask to seal and work well. I started out with pretty tight straps, but each night I’ve backed off a little and found they don’t need to be that tight to provide a decent seal. I’ve been getting used to the idea that the hose and mask are pretty well engineered to allow for some motion in bed. The hose connects to the mask with a swivel, and it’s pretty long, so rolling over isn’t bad. The first two nights I was subconsciously unwilling to turn away from the edge of the bed because of that sense of a tether being there, but last night I recognized what I was doing and did a few conscious test rolls just to establish to myself that I wouldn’t end up trussed up in a tangle of hose.

All the crappy weather last week messed things up a little, because I didn’t get to the gym, and that also has an effect on how well I sleep. More exercise = easier, deeper sleep. I probably should have just done weights at home, but I’ve gotten hooked on the miracles of the heart-rate-detecting, auto-adjusting treadmill. Especially in conjunction with my growing library of back episodes of “This American Life.”

By initially deciding to cut out bedtime sleep aids I probably made the week a little harder on myself than I needed to. I started taking them again late in the week and felt much better overall, and I realized that because I was getting better sleep, I didn’t spend the whole day feeling poleaxed and drugged. Saturday and Sunday mornings, I woke up feeling very rested and didn’t feel the need for an afternoon nap. The sleep technician told me to expect a month or so before my sleep cycle naturally straightened out, so I’m not going to rush any changes anymore.

This morning I woke up in the best shape I have so far regarding the mask: it was on my face, but I didn’t realize that at first because the fit was very comfortable and I still had a good seal. I also realized that the night sweats I’ve had for a while have stopped.

But overall impressions? So far I’d say “pretty optimistic.” Al continues to not observe disruptive snoring.


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