Monday, March 26, 2007

CPAP: The Misadventure Continues

© 2007 Ray X

“Sleep deprivation played a role in catastrophes such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska, the space shuttle Challenger disaster, and the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.” – The Harvard Medical School Guide To A Good Night’s Sleep, Lawrence J. Epstein, M.D. with Steve Mardon (2007), page 6.

Apparently it’s a good thing that the heaviest piece of machinery I am operating is this personal computer.

I haven’t whined about my obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in a while. And I might as well since the only thing going on in UFOdom (or UFOdumb, as it may be) are the usual petty, personal feuds and pointless arguments spiraling around like insane, tail-chasing dogs. Also, someone out there might find some benefit or useful info from this post. (Anyway, this is my party and I’ll whine if I want to.)

I’m still struggling with my CPAP machine, the device that keeps my airways open while I sleep. This is the second CPAP I’ve owned and the same problems are cropping up. It’s a pain trying to sleep with a plastic nasal mask connected to a long hose. You have to be careful when changing positions in bed or air starts leaking out, affecting the pressure. Also, if an air leak is directed towards your eye, it can dry out your orb. Dry mouth is bad enough with CPAP; I don’t need additional problems.

As I explained in previous posts, I used a humidifier unit with my first CPAP, an option to alleviate dry mouth. It ended up making me sick one night. It was flooding my head with moldy miasma, even though I cleaned the water tank every day. I did try the humidifier with the new unit but decided to play it safe and just go with straight air.

Another occasional problem is the unit actually wakes me up. I’ll be dead tired, ready to sleep, and so I hook myself up to the CPAP. An hour later I’m still awake and have to disconnect, forced to sleep without it. The damn thing is worse than a jolt of caffeine. I’ll lie there for an hour or more before I drift off.
With the new unit there are options you can adjust. I don’t know if I accidentally reset the CPAP level for altitude but I noticed it was at 3, the highest, recommended for use at 5001 to 7500 feet above sea level. I’m assuming that the higher number compensates for the thinner atmosphere at greater altitudes, increasing the airflow to maintain a consistent pressure.

I Googled the keywords “Plattsburgh, NY” and “sea level” and “altitude”. I soon learned that this place is only 150 feet above sea level. I made sure to reset my CPAP to Level 1 for altitude. Apparently I was increasing my chances of perforating an eardrum.

Maybe the correct pressure will alleviate another problem: gas. I had to stop using the CPAP for a few days because I had become a walking gas factory (the rear exhaust type). So far that problem has cleared up, a fortunate event for the environment, especially with the threat of global warming.

I still struggle to fall into a regular sleep routine. 6 AM or 6 PM: it doesn’t matter, I can be wide-awake, drowsy, or out like a light. The pattern changes each day. Even with the CPAP on throughout my sleep, I end up sleeping ten to twelve hours, sometimes missing out on a bright sunny day.

But in some ways I am doing better. I’m usually not in a semi-hallucinatory state due to sleep deprivation, a situation I discussed in a previous post.


X. Dell said...

Sleep deprivation is somewhat more than a nuissance. It's a danger. I hope you can get some good sleep in eventually.

I've slept with someone using one of those machines. It certainly woke me up. I would have guessed that those who owned one would get used to it.

Doug said...

Let's not be overly critical of semi-hallucinatory states; they are not always bad...

I am up at this hour not out of choice, but because the delightful LAPD felt it prudent to have a helicopter hover above my girlfriend's apartment. Over and over. It's so close that with each pass the stuff on the wall vibrates.

I grant this doesn't make your situation any less troubling, but it is a roundabout attempt at empathizing with it.

[Digressing: Every time I see the reference to CPAP I chuckle childishly.]

Cap'n Marrrrk said...

question: Are you overweight and/or have a large neck? Would losing weight help if this were the case?

Is a Uvulaectomy out of the question?

Ray said...

X. Dell:

I can understand that the sound of a CPAP unit could keep a non-user awake. There is some noise inside the mask and so I don't hear the pump in the background. But from what I can hear it must have that Darth Vader effect.


Well, I find semi-hallucinary states not to be that productive. As for your LAPD helicopter problem, I can emphasize. When the Plattsburgh Air Force Base was still operating, the roar of jets and bombers could get on your nerves. And in the old days there were sonic booms almost shattering your windows.

cap'n marrrk:

Gee, we haven't formally met and you're asking me about my body shape? [G] Yup, I'm overweight and have a large neck. The plan is to lose some weight once I get enough sleep and can stay active all day, burning off the calories.

As for surgery, years ago when I was a kid I had my tonsils taken out. Since then doctors have figured other ways of raising money for new golf clubs than yanking tonsils. Overall I'm skeptical of surgery, especially when the success rate isn't that great (around 50/50, the toss of a coin).

You chuckle childishly when you see the word CPAP? Let me guess: it's how a gynecologist checks out a certain test. (Hey, who says vaudeville is dead?)