Wendy UnBrOkEn

Without the Dark, We'd Never See the Stars...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

* CPAP * Sleep Apnea *

I wasn't going to blog about this, but I think I need to just in case there is ever someone reading this blog who may not know they are suffering with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea usually cannot be cured, but it can be managed with a machine called a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure).  I know I have mentioned my sleep issues before, but now I have finally been given a device to help me achieve the re-cooperative sleep I need in order to lead a fulfilling and productive life.  My risk for stroke and heart disease is greatly reduced, as is my risk to die in my sleep from cardiac arrest.  Yes, sleep apnea is very serious and can be deadly.  

Since getting my machine a week ago, I have already had to exchange my mask for a new one because I hated the one they gave me to start out with.  Why they thought I would like a nasal mask is beyond me.  Talk about uncomfortable! It is a small mask that fits just over your nose area.  If you are a nose only breather and never open your mouth when you breath then that mask would probably be just fine for you.  If you do open your mouth at night for any reason, even to speak, the air comes down and around your nasal cavity and shoots very forcefully out of your mouth! It also makes a loud hissing sound.  It reminded me of what I would think a fire breathing dragon would sound like!  My kids thought it was quite hilarious that air shot out of my mouth, so much so that my daughter even tried the mask on herself and pretended to be a dragon. 

Today I took the nasal mask back to the store and exchanged it for a full mask.  It covers the nose and mouth area.  Now when I open my mouth, I won't be the dragon lady!!  

My new mask is for women.  It is pink!!  
Here is a photo of the mask I got today.  No, it is not pretty and it is not attractive to wear it, it isn't sexy or appealing in any way, but if I don't wear it when I sleep, I cannot breath. My brain doesn't tell me to breath and I wake up 100 times an hour. Yes, an hour.  I literally stop breathing.  I could DIE. I probably will never date again LOL  

There is continuous air being forced through the mask and into your lungs to keep you breathing and alive.  At first it is like trying to breath in a hurricane.  You get used to it and then you can sleep.  Once you are asleep, you don't even wake up.  I now am able to go into REM sleep (something I haven't done in a long time) and I am able to dream again (people dream while in REM sleep). I have had some really trippy dreams this past week.  From nightmares about my kids dying, to getting married to an old boyfriend. They have been super vivid and realistic. 

I have been so long (years) without true sleep that I forgot how good sleep can make you feel.  I can already tell that my neck and back don't hurt as much as they previously did.  I am still in some pain but, not in horrible pain.  I could just be in some weird honeymoon phase of treatment where I get temporary relief from symptoms in the beginning and then the pain comes back later. I sure hope that isn't the case here.  Being in constant chronic pain and having constant debilitating fatigue really diminishes a persons quality of life. I have been literally spending Monday - Wednesday in bed just laying there.  Going to work required bottles of 5 hour energy drinks, caffeine pills, and coffee just to function.  I hope those days are over!

Sleep apnea is actually more common than you would think.  A lot of people have it and have no idea that they have it. 

Approximately one in every five adults has sleep apnea!! 

There are three types of sleep apnea:

1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • The most common type of sleep apnea; occurs when your upper airway closes but your efforts to breathe continue
  • Upper airway obstruction caused usually by lack of muscle tone during sleep, extra upper airway tissue and/or anatomical abnormalities in the upper airway and jaw

2. Central sleep apnea (CSA)
  • Occurs when your breathing stops but your airway is open
  • Results from the body's failure to breathe automatically. It's as if a short circuit prevents the brain from keeping the respiratory system functioning properly
3. Mixed apnea
  • A mixture of both OSA and CSA

Here are the symptoms that are easiest to identify without diagnostic testing:
  • Excessive sleepiness (use the Epworth Sleepiness Scale to evaluate your sleepiness)
  • Snoring (people with OSA usually snore but not always)
  • Witnessed apneas or irregular breathing during sleep (gasping, long pauses, etc – a spouse or partner may notice these)
  • Impaired concentration
  • Impaired memory
  • Morning headaches
  • Sexual dysfunction

High blood pressure (hypertension) and decreased blood oxygen levels are common symptoms for people with sleep apnea, but these are not easily detected. 

If you think you might have sleep apnea, I urge you to seek help!  It could literally mean the difference between life and death. 

For more information about sleep apnea please visit the Mayo Clinic website


  1. so, which kind of sleep apnea do you have?

  2. Mixed...

    So far the mask isn't helping. I thought it was for a day or so, but now I feel just as tired as always. I am at work right now, but I would give anything to go home and go to bed. I sleep better in the day light.

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