Apologies to the OP for hijacking this thread but I think Blaifarm has raised a really serious question. I read somewhere that less than 50% of people who start on CPAP are still going a year later.
OK, first the sermon, then some hopefully helpful hints...
I was very much an apnea denier. I had a GP recommend a sleep test, "just in case" but I refused to do it. She Who Must be Obeyed was always complaining about my snoring - even moving out of our bedroom on occasions, but she didn't think I stopped breathing. I used to get really tired, falling asleep in front of the TV or computer. Even nodding off at the wheel - on one occasion I actually pulled off the road on the way to work and had a half hour sleep in my car. I used to miss at least one day of work a week because I couldn't get going in the morning. I put all this down to overwork, stress and other health issues.
I've had heart arrhythmia for a while but it started getting painful, so I saw a cardiologist who also recommended a sleep study and showed me statistics linking apnea and heart problems. I went to the sleep test and when they told me I had very severe apnea (AHI >60) I didn't believe it. I made them show me the charts and graphs, and only then did I believe I had a problem.
Quote: What is any benefit from using cpap? Have there been any studies of people getting better (hypertension, diabetes, fatigue, just to name a few)?
I can't point you to any studies, but I'm sure some of the other members can. With a data point of one (me) I can tell you:
1. I no longer nod off at the wheel or while working at my computer
2. I no longer wake up with a splitting headache and overall aches and pains
3. I no longer miss work because I'm so tired
4. My heart arrhythmia is very much improved and most of the pain has gone
5. My beloved has moved back into our bedroom
I don't know if apnea treatment will reverse things like diabetes, but I'm pretty sure it will help the control these conditions and stop them getting worse.
It's taken while to see these improvements. For the first few weeks I couldn't sleep with the machine on, kept taking the mask off in my sleep, woke up feeling worse than before. With help from the people on this forum and a really great therapist, things gradually got better. But it did take a change of machine (to an ASV type) and about four or five different masks before things really improved. I had my sleep test on 28 August, and it's only in the past few weeks that I feel I've turned the corner.
So, some practical things you can do to help get over the hump.
1. You need a support network. You mention your wife is unable to talk about the situation - that is sad, but also understandable. It's not really an easy condition to understand. She really has no idea of what you're going through. However, you have people of this forum, and you have your medical team. Ask as many questions as you want here, no matter how silly or trivial they might seem. The only stupid question is the one that wasn't asked. Talk to your doctors and therapists. If necessary, bully them into working with you to get this thing on track.
2. Get your mask right. If the mask leaks or is uncomfortable, everything else is wasted. Again, if necessary, bully your supplier into trying different types. Some people are best with a full face mask, other prefer the nasal type. Try them out and see what is best for you. Remember, if the mask ain't right, nothing else will work either.
3. Get hold of software that will let you monitor your own progress. Sleepyhead is a free download and is easy to use. Once you can see the flow rate and pressure graphs, and how these relate to your apneas and hypopneas, you'll be able to start controlling your own treatment. And you can always ask questions here to help interpret what the software is telling you. It also gives you a solid base to discuss things with your doctor or therapist.
4. If you experience dry mouth or stuffy nose, try adjusting the humidity on your machine. I like to have it way up high. I also put a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a tissue and place it near the machine, so I get some "aromatherapy" which helps keep my pipes open.
5. If the hose is a problem, you can get a device which will hold it up higher, so that it doesn't drag on you if you move around in your sleep. You can also try a slimline hose which is lighter and more flexible.
6. Pillow - if you sleep on your side or stomach, the mask is likely to get dislodged or pushed off your face. You can get specially shaped pillows that help reduce this problem. In my case I use a duck feather pillow and when I roll over I just sort of punch it into shape. It works for me.
OK, that's enough for now. I was a denier, and now I'm a believer. I really believe that CPAP has done me a power of good. I hope you'll get some benefit from it as well.