Pleasant dreams

In September 2017, the Coatesville VA Hospital Doctor suggested I’d be tested for sleep apnea.  To me, my symptoms didn’t match his suggestion but I reasoned, he’s the Doctor, and it would be just another test in an nonending stream of tests.

The sleep test will be done at the Michael Crescenz Veterans Affairs Hospital in Philadelphia.  Turns out they have the VA’s regional Sleep Study.

At my first appointment, I was given an apparatus to circle my chest with stylish matching devices for the hand and face.  I took these machines home and hook them up.  The results of my sleep test would be transmitted directly to the Sleep Study folks.  Note: I love technology.

Despite the technician’s simple directions, I got the hook-up chore wrong, and it never recorded my sleep.  I discovered my misstep in the morning and called the Sleep Center.  I guess this must have happened enough for them to react with saint-like patience.  “Try again tonight, Mister Morris.  You seem to understand how it works.”  And so I did.

The result came back quickly.  “You are waking up at night at an average of 19 times an hour”.  Note the accepted average for older adults is 5 to 10.  These little shocks of wakefulness were robbing me of quality sleep and making fatigue a way of life.  A new appointment was next for a CPAP machine fitting.  Oh what joy is this?

Things can happen slowly with the VA, but this was not one of those times.  In two days, I travelled back to get my new gear.  But first there was a classroom lesson to endure.

I sat at a computer and watched an instructional video about the workings of CPAP machines and a cartoon-like rendition of how to put on the mask.

Amy, the sleep technician took me to her work station to explore how to set up the my new machine.  This took me back to my days at Fort Gordon, Georgia when I was learning now to operate radio teletype machines.  Except Amy was a better instructor than those “I love the Army” type I had then.

Amy tried on a small number of CPAP masks, and we decided the best for me was the full face mask due mostly to my tendency to be a “mouth breather”.

A lesson on how to clean the machine was drilled into me in a way that showed Amy did this routine a lot.

With this behind me, I was good to go; so I did.

That night, I set up my new sleep buddy and fully expected to have a major improvement in my condition in the morning.  This did not happen.  As the weeks passed, I reached out to others using CPAPs.  I was told it takes a while.  Weeks, maybe months before I would feel the positive effects.  Everyone said to stick with it.  The results are worth it.

My journey started in October 2017.  I have steadfastly stay with the CPAP program.  On February 22nd, I experienced my first night of restful sleep and my first high energy day.

Four month of sleeping with a plastic cup strapped to my face with its attached air hose forcing wind into my face has finally paid off.

The difference is easily measured.  After a poor night’s sleep, I can push myself to do chores, but I need to take rest breaks.  Following a good night’s sleep, I am active and do chores more effectively.

If sleeping with a CPAP machine can give me a better day, I’m all in.

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One Response to “Pleasant dreams”

  1. John Morris Says:

    A week later: I have had a mix of good & bad night’s sleep with no discernible difference in technique. For sure, the joy of getting a good night’s sleep will motivate me to strap on the device and deal with the evening’s land mines – masks going in multiple directions, excessive leaking.

    I’ll keep going.

    Next up for me is an insomnia study.

    Note: I will accept all manners of advice.

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