Day By Day: Welcome to CPAP world - to snore or die of thirstThey tell me I snore. Actually they don’t have to tell me. I occasionally wake myself up. And since I had my insurance deductible all satisfied by last fall, I decided to see just how bad things were.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
They tell me I snore.
Actually they don’t have to tell me. I occasionally wake myself up. And since I had my insurance deductible all satisfied by last fall, I decided to see just how bad things were. It doesn’t appear that snoring burns many calories so maybe it was time to get fixed.
Snoring isn’t my fault and it is not just a function of being overweight. My mom was a world class snorer despite being of average size. You could hear her through the heat registers in our old farmhouse although she denied she ever did it.
My sister Mary took after her. Mary is even smaller than mom but she go snort for snort with her. Mary stayed with Kevin and me for a time when we lived in Stillwater. She slept on a porch in the back of the house. We could hear her all the way upstairs into our front bedroom. That’s when I realized looks and size had very little to do with snoring — even the petite and pretty can make some fairly ugly noise.
It seems to me that Kevin has been snoring a lot longer than me but snoring is one of those things — like the quality of your singing voice and how you look in a swimming suit — that we never quite have a clear assessment of. But my husband ratted me out at his last physical. When our doctor asked him if he was sleeping OK, he said no — “Who could with Meg’s snoring?”
So that’s how I ended up at what they call a “sleep center” — a little overnight where you are wired for sound and monitored all night long.
After the year I’ve had, a night away from home with my insurance company picking up the tab sounded like a girl’s night out. And the accommodations weren’t bad. I had a room (soundproof) to myself, complete with a sleep number bed, a flat screen TV with a remote I didn’t have to share and a prescribed sleeping pill.
The weird stuff began when they came in to wire me up. It took about 30 minutes to glue stuff to my head, my face, my chest and my legs. I’m thinking I’ll never fall asleep with all this stuff on but then I underestimated that sleeping pill. I was a little worried that all this was for naught — I mean what if they came in and said they were on to me — that there were people with real snoring problems and this was a pretty cheesy way to get a night away from home with my own TV.
I was only asleep for three hours when they came in to wake me up and told me I had already stopped breathing 20 times and that it was time to try on the CPAP machine. They fitted me with a mask which delivers a constant flow of air to keep me breathing. A nice side effect is that you can’t talk with it on since all the air rushes out of an open mouth.
I was sure I wouldn’t sleep with the mask on but that sleeping pill just kept on working and I awoke refreshed at 7 a.m.
The relationship between me and my CPAP since then hasn’t been an easy one. I’ve gotten all kinds of great professional support but it is still a challenge.
First you have to get used to the idea of looking like cross between Hannibal Lecter from “Silence of the Lambs” and Snuffleupagus from “Sesame Street.”
In those first few weeks, I learned I am apparently a “mouth breather,” which sounds too close to a bottom feeder if you ask me. The downside of this is that I was waking up every hour dying of thirst and spilling most of the water down my front when the glass ran into my “trunk.” I thought the idea was to get more sleep, not less.
The professionals didn’t like my idea of duct taping my mouth shut and provided a chin apparatus instead. While I’m not quite as thirsty, I wake up with the feeling a little like a half-baked mummy. And now I can only drink through a straw.
I don’t always make it through the night. In fact I usually wake up and find everything in a pile by the side of the bed. The way I look at it — I’m breathing regularly at least half the night and Kevin should be getting a little more sleep as well. After 40 years, that’s all he’s entitled to. I mean I haven’t tattled to the doctor about all the strange noises he makes and most of those are when he’s wide wake.
So me and my CPAP machine are heading to Florida in a few days, along with all the other baby boomers with their machines going through security. It doesn’t count as a carry-on you know so I’m thinking there are some pockets I can use to smuggle down some Girl Scout cookies. It ought to be a great trip. I’ll be so much better rested.