Briefly (if possible), My lung capacity has not been great for past 15 years or so. That never caused any real problems until last December when I awakened at 4 am in extreme distress as if suffocating. I had to sit up to catch my breath. Then I couldn't lay down without getting the suffocation feeling and it persisted for several days. After toughing it out for ever a month, I decided to go see a doctor about it. Having not been to one lately I found that my trusty primary care giver had departed the area. Sooo..I put in a request at our new hospital, who now has corralled all the local doctors into a new medical building attached to the hospital, to become a new patient of any available doctor who would accept me. The person taking my application said they would be in touch.
Sooo..I waited another month but nobody called and I was getting desperate for sleep. I think lack of sleep was affecting my judgement and I was losing track of time and giving too much credit to the promise of "they would be in touch" so I decided to go to a new facility that had just opened locally called "Express Care". That turned out to be a good decision since I was able to get in immediately. That's better than the hospital ER service since it's usually crowded with folks in even worse shape than I.
Long story longer, the nurse practitioner at Express Care gave me a spirometer test and quickly concluded that I had COPD and probably emphysema. She gave me a prescription for an albuterol aerosol huffer and referred me to a pulmonologist. The albuterol didn't seem to do anything at all for me and I still have several puffs left that will likely never be used. Oh, I nearly forgot...she also prescribed Flovent, which is another aerosol, and it didn't do anything except cost me $200 since my insurance formulary didn't choose to include it.
Moving along...and skipping in order to finish before supper...The pulmomologist agreed with the NP and decided to run some test in order to quantify my state of being and possibly to secure the funds for his upcoming Mercedes payment. Several appointments and two months later he determined that my lung capacity is 66% of what is expected for old farts like me and that it shouldn't be bothering me all that much. I told him, as I had on all the other appointments, that I was having a problem getting enough sleep. Finally he decided to order a sleep lab study which I attended. I probably slept 15 minutes during the night of that study and the person administering the test remarked that she didn't know if they could get enough info from that to make any decisions.
Little did she know...at the followup appointment with my Pulman, who is certified in sleep study interpretation, he stated that I slept 4 hours and it showed that I didn't have enough sleep apnea to qualify for a CPAP machine under the Medicare. They require an AHI count of 5 and he said I only had a 1.9 count. This was at the last meeting with him and at that time I told "Medicare be damned" I want a CPAP machine and I'll pay for it out of pocket. He was then willing to give me the necessary prescription and referred me to a local dealer who had used CPAPs and also said I could run a wanted ad in the local paper and perhaps get one that way.
I got a ResMed S9 Elite with humidifier with only 600 hours on it for $500. That was 7 days ago and I'm in the self titration process to get this torture device tuned in to a tolerable level where it can help me as opposed to making things worse (did I mention my nose is raw meat). I learning a lot, especially how to adjust the mask properly but so far I haven't established much of a trend with the pressure setting. It'll take lots more time.
, aren't you sorry you asked? I forgot what the question was but I'll try harder if you'll ask again since I had to first unload this saga onto someone and you were right there.
Oh, now I remember, you wanted to know how folks with COPD such as emphysema and asthma who also had sleep apnea were coping with it. Well, sorry to say, I'm not coping with it very well and can't offer much useful data to you. At this point I haven't proven the doctor incorrect and can't be sure that I even have sleep apnea. Since I don't sleep well in a sleep lab test and the Pulman said he wasn't aware of any home sleep tests that would be accepted by Medicare, I'll have to go this alone and hope I can hit on the answer before I run out of money or die, whichever comes first.
I'll be happy to keep you informed of my progress (or lack thereof) and answer any questions you ask. Feel free to make any comments that come to mind and rest assured that I can handle any foolish suggestions or criticisms you come up with. I hope we can help each other this way and possibly help others with these same issues. Mostly I just hope I can sleep more than 4 hours a night. My emphysema only affects me when I exert myself too much so it's not a big deal to control that. I do my treadmill @ 3 mph for 2 miles 3 times per week and have no breathing problems at all. However, twice up and down the basement stairs gets me puffing and distressed for a while.
End of saga.
Thanks for reading. If you made it this far you're tough.
ps. I saved a whole bunch for later so be careful what you ask for.