Who is that masked woman?

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I don't think I ever told you the story of my sleep study to see if I had obstructive sleep apnea. That's where your airway collapses in your sleep so you can't breathe and eventually (if you're lucky!) it wakes you up so you can breathe again. This happens over and over and over again during the night, so you never get quality sleep and it can lead to all kinds of very scary things I won't enumerate here, plus just a general drag on your system.

Long story short, I went to the sleep lab last month, got wired up with about a million wires (I am only just barely exaggerating--look at the guy in the wikipedia article I linked to above!) from head to toe--well, lower leg, anyway--and then had to sleep under observation. After about 4-5 hours, the sleep tech came in and said I'd had the required number of "episodes" for them to try a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. So in addition to all those wires, I now had a mask over my nose and mouth, blowing air at me. Amazingly, I somehow managed to sleep.

I got the results of my study week-before-last, and it turns out, I was having 108 episodes of apnea per hour--but with the CPAP, none. So I was prescribed a CPAP machine with a built-in humidifier and supplemental oxygen as my oxygen saturation was very low. I got all my equipment day-before-yesterday, and started using it last night. Amazingly, I somehow managed to sleep 8.5 hours with the device on. It takes most people a while to build up their hours on it.

Now, don't get me wrong--it was weird and somewhat uncomfortable, but I think I just knew it was going to be my salvation, so I decided to tolerate it no matter what. So glad I did! I've been getting up every 60-90 minutes every night for a couple of years, with a full bladder and having to go to the bathroom. I was amazed when the sleep doc told me that apnea can trigger a chemical in the body that causes urine production and that I was not likely having kidney failure as I secretly feared! And sure enough--using the CPAP, I only awoke and went to the bathroom once last night, and wasn't even desperate to go, but I always remember Mom's admonition "Just try anyway."

I will say, glad as I was to have made it that long on the CPAP, I felt horrible when I woke up--like I'd been run over by a truck. It was stressful to have the mask on, but I believe I just need to get used to it. The mask does a number on your skin and makes deep marks on your face, the straps of the mask smash your hair down, and I was hot all night from my face being masked in plastic, so the perspiration plus smashed hair yielded a horrifying hairdo. (Here's a photo of a mask not the exactly same but very similar to what I've got) So it's not without a price, but I have to believe the sleep will compensate for any adjustments I might have to make. I am counting on better sleep to help me with all sorts of things!

On a different note, we are going to be without Internet service indefinitely as we change ISPs so as to get greater bandwidth. That's just become a necessity and as challenging as it is, we just have to bite the bullet. I'm hoping to get some things done that don't require being connected. We'll see! I'll be checking my email daily. If you have my old personal email address--the one that starts with mjulia, it is no longer valid. If you need to get in touch and you don't have my new email address (my first name @ my web address), just use the Contact feature at juliarogershamrick.com. Please think happy thoughts for me that my Internet withdrawals are minimal, and my sleep is fabulous!

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Sibylle said:

I've heard about sleep apnoe, and that it's serious because the interruption of the oxygen flow to the brain can cause damage over time. So I'm glad you got it sorted out!

Hope you'll get used to the mask. Aren't these available in breathable materials? That should make it much more comfortable to wear.


Julia said:

Thanks, Sibylle!

In doing much research about the masks, I haven't found any in breathable materials, but I'll continue the quest! I'm getting more used to the mask I have, but there's definitely room for improvement.

((((Hugs back to you!)))

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This page contains a single entry by Julia published on July 27, 2009 1:35 AM.

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