I very seldom write about personal problems, particularly am I loathe to discuss problems of personal health.
But I thought I’d share some of the troubles that sleep apnea has caused me because I know a lot of folks are affected by this insidious condition.
Mine has gotten so bad that I often can’t get to sleep until well after daylight. But help may be on the way. I’ll explain all that in a moment or two but first I’ll give some background on what’s been going on with me.
I was diagnosed with sleep apnea several years ago, actually. Apnea causes your throat to relax and close up while you sleep, cutting off your air supply and disrupting restful sleep. Over the long term it can raise your blood pressure, damage your cardio-pulmonary system and cause side effects such as an irregular heart beat, which in turn can cause weakness and shortness of breath.
When I was first diagnosed with it, my doctors prescribed a CPAP machine. With the machine, you place a mask over your nose and breathe in forced air which is supposed to keep your air passages open and functioning. That is the standard remedy and works well for many people. I have relatives who have had great success with a CPAP machine.
Alas, it hasn’t worked for me. I had a hard time adjusting to the mask initially, but was finally able to do so. However, the machine never worked very well for me, probably due to wrong settings or a mask that leaked air because it came away from my nose or whatever.
However, I used the thing nightly and, though it was no remedy for me, it was certainly better than nothing.
But several weeks ago, my crazy old mind worked in some mysterious manner as to make the mask intolerable for me. I just couldn’t stand to have it on my face because either I felt I wasn’t getting enough air or, conversely, the force of air coming into my nose was too great. I know that’s a contradiction, but that’s what I felt was happening. I also know it was all due to anxiety.
So the anxiety began to cause severe insomnia. I felt like I couldn’t sleep with the mask on but without it, I would often end up gasping for air as I began to doze off. I’d be awake for hours. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I think my record insomnia “night” saw me falling asleep around 2 p.m. the following afternoon.
Obviously, this has been disrupting my life. Extreme fatigue, having to change plans, turning my nights and days upside down — all of this was happening.
I’m on anxiety medicine which is helping some, but right now I’ve reached the point where I can’t tolerate the CPAP at all, so when I awake — at whatever time — I feel pretty rotten.
But, as I said earlier, help may be on the way. One of my doctors has prescribed a new, very sophisticated automatic BIPAP machine. With this, the airflow will be reduced while I exhale, so I won’t have to fight the incoming air while I try to expel air from my lungs. And it is supposed to adjust the airflow throughout the night, to meet the needs of my particular condition.
I am hoping and praying that with this new device, I will be able to tolerate the mask because the airflow should be much easier to deal with.. It could turn my life around, if it works. I sure hope it does.