CPAP: Living With It or Not

mRNA Appliance & CPAP Update

The mRNA appliance is actually kind of awesome. I can feel it “doing something” which equates to meaningful change toward a permanent solution to my sleep apnea among other things. This past week, in addition to being able to breath through my nose for the first time in my life, my husband has declared my snoring to be just a soft purr or something like that. This is all improvement before starting CPAP. I still can’t tell much difference looking in the mirror, but my lower jaw is now freely moving forward and I can “feel” my top dental arch taking on a fuller shape.

CPAP Compliance & Choice

I’ve now spent four nights with my new machine. It’s actually an Auto PAP which means the air is automatically adjusting to my breathing as opposed to a CPAP which has continuous positive air pressure. Whatever, nuances aside, it is without a doubt a horrible experience to have to sleep with this thing on your face. Photo to follow. I would not blame a single person, no matter how severe their case is (remember, my AHI is 41 = severe) if they refuse to wear this thing. I strongly believe that nurses and doctors should stop haranguing their patients – telling them to “man up” or the equivalent – and let the patient make an informed choice. I know there are circumstances warranting the need to control sleep apnea in patients who are responsible for other people’s lives: bus drivers, truck drivers, etc., but given the poor compliance rate, undiagnosed cases, and patient compliance work-arounds, it seems more effort could go toward encouraging other lifestyle changes, finding better solutions, and/or working with the patient to help them prepare for consequences due to refusing CPAP. Since the consequences seem so abstract: potential heart attack, stroke, diabetes, breathing cessation leading to the great sleep, Alzheimer’s, etc. the focus could be on that one thing the patient is at the greatest risk of experiencing. For example, if the patient is at the greatest risk of heart attack, the health support team could work with that patient on end of life choices and preparation. This is not to scare the patient, it’s simply respecting their choice. I know this goes against the oath that doctors take to protect life, but if a patient is refusing effective treatment, I’m not sure what more a doctor can do besides terminate care all together or help the patient live their life with mindfulness.

My CPAP Cons

Having said all that, after only four nights, I can admit that CPAP is changing my life. I can’t say that I feel better, but I feel different and I believe it is leading to a better quality of life. I didn’t want to admit that, but when you have a strong desire to live and to live well, you have the mindset and the willfulness to carry on irregardless of the circumstances. CPAP treatment sucks. It’s not a cure, it’s a lifelong treatment. I have had the following experiences: embarrassment about having to wear the mask – I never want my partner to see me with it on, the mask and nose cushion are uncomfortable and cause me to sleep in positions that create neck and back pain, I have to wear an eye mask to keep my eyes from drying out, I have to tape my mouth shut to keep air from escaping (plus, I’m training myself to breathe through my nose), I started to develop a pressure bruise on my nose, and I wake up with terrible stomach cramps from swallowing too much air.

cpap mask

 My CPAP Pros

I wake up in the morning and I get out of bed without a big production. Previously, this was no small feat. I’ve tried for years to get up early. I’ve also attempted to make early rising easier by being thankful before bed and grateful upon arising. I’ve laid out my clothes and ground the coffee the day before to make my life easier. Stopped eating before 7:00 and stopped drinking alcohol. All to no avail. I would lay in bed, hoping that Eric would get up soon and start making the coffee so I could somehow muster the energy to drag my ass out of bed.

I still have my morning coffee ritual with my husband on the back porch every day, but I seriously feel like I could start doing things like exercise or work. Previously, it would take me a good hour before I would feel like I had enough energy to ease into the day. I sound like a lazy bum, but quite the contrary. I consider myself a highly functioning and productive person. I figured most of this lack of energy was from working hard my whole life.

I haven’t felt like I wanted caffeine in the afternoon. Keep in mind, I already follow a fairly low carb, whole foods diet, so I have reduced my afternoon slumps from literally falling asleep to just needing an afternoon pick me up. Now, I’m not even thinking about coffee or tea.

I went for three two-mile walks around the park this week. That’s something I’ve been telling myself to do for months. This was completely spontaneous and in fact, I felt like I needed to go for a walk at the end of the day to burn some extra energy. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep with that mask on my face.

I sleep all night. Previously, I tossed and turned almost every night. If I could drink just the right amount or dose up on Skullcap and Valerian, I could get through most of the night without event. Sometimes, I would plan to take the herbal tinctures in the middle of the night, so the rest of my sleep would be peaceful. I thought I was sleeping great. I just thought I had an overactive mind, worrying about this and that all night long. Funny, I’ve slept through the last four nights, waking once, but immediately going back to sleep, and I wasn’t worried about anything.

I feel calm. less anxious. Previously, I was a stressed out anxious hot mess. I was pretty good by now of using different techniques to calm my mind, but it was always with me. It seems to be gone now. Simply vanished. Where did that anxiety go and what did I have to worry so much about? As an added bonus, my mind is starting to feel clear, less foggy. I had this experience when I got off grains and it felt amazing. To experience it at an even deeper level is mind blowing.

I can’t wait to see what happens next! Until then…

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