I am 68 years old
I am about 30 pounds overweight
No major ongoing health problems (other than apnea)
I was a two-pack a day smoker until six years ago when I quit (which partially explains my weight).
My wife got a CPAP machine six years ago and was never really comfortable with it. Recently she was able to switch to an orthodonic appliance that seems to be working for her.
My wife has been telling me for years that I had apnea but I tried to ignore her as I toss and turn a lot in my sleep and didn’t believe I could get any sleep with a mask and hose attached to me. But when my wife got her oral appliance I figured that was something I could live with and went in for a sleep test.
The test was a nightmare. I think I slept about a hour all night. It was made worse by the upteen electrodes attached all over my body. About a week later I saw the doctor and he said the tests indicated I have severe obstructive apnea with an AHI as high as 37. He also said the chances were slim that an oral appliance would work for me as they are normally used for people with slight to moderate apnea.. I was tempted to forget the whole thing at that point but was so tired of being tired I agreed to go back to the sleep lab so they could get data to set me up with a CPAP machine.
After the second tests, I went on line to research CPAP and discovered the technology has changed a lot in the past few years. The new machines make my wife’s old one seem pretty primitive. While waiting for my Medicare Advantage provider to approve a machine I found myself getting anxious to get started—anything had to be better than the way I was feeling. Being tired all the time definitely affected my overall attitude toward everything. I was pretty much a grumpy old man.
I was excited when I got my machine (P&K ICON Auto+) and went into the first night optimistic. I think my attitude helped. Although there were some problems (the heated hose made the air too warm), I was pleased when I finished the night with a 3.01 AHI. I was fortunate because a new version of SleepyHead had just been released that handles ICON data.. On night 2, based on the SH graphs, I turned down the humidity from 4 to 3 and turned off the hose heat. That night my AHI actually rose a little to 3.94 (mainly because of mask leaks) but I still felt like I was making progress. I wasn’t nearly as tired and went all day without a nap.
Before Night 3, based in SH data, I turned off the ramp feature as the SH graphs suggested I was more comfortable going straight to my 8.0 pressure setting. That proved to be correct as I went to sleep much quicker and also went back to sleep quicker when I woke up. And in the morning my AHI was 1.22!!!
I’m sure there will still be problems.. On Monday I plan to switch to the Pilaro Nasal Pillow mask, (they didn’t have one the day I got my machine) I think I will like that better It’s the one I used in the second lab test.. But the great thing is I now actually look forward to going to bed.. There is a big difference in staying in bed 8 or 9 hours drifting in and out of consciousness, and getting 7 hours of SLEEP. It’s is now 10:30 in the morning and a week ago if I had tried to sit at the computer and write something this lengthy, I would have been dozing off.
I know that I am fortunate because I am no dealing with a lot of other health issues besides the apnea. But I thought maybe my experience so far might help other newbies who are struggling. I do think attitude plays a large role.
I was a serious smoker. I liked to smoke and didn’t really want to quit. But I did six years ago and haven’t had even one puff since. Although I don’t go around chastising people I know who still smoke, I always tell them that “If I can quit smoking, ANYONE can quit.” Based on my experience so far I guess I feel the same thing about CPAP.