"Do you want to feel as if you slept OK (then don't wear the mask), or do you want to actually have slept OK (then wear the mask)? But pick only one."
That said, I'm not giving up. I accept I have to fix this. And I'm sure there's a way to get the "Pick only one" aspect of the above to be a thing of the past. So here are the relevant details.
I'm male, obese, light beard and moustache. Apnea is severe (AHI 80-90 or above). I have a slightly deviated septum, enough such that I often (but not always) mouth breathe. If not also congested in some other way, I can always create a clear nasal path in (usually) my left nostril by simply doing a very broad "smile" action action on the left side of my face. It is, of course, hard to maintain that while asleep!
I originally titrated with a nasal prong mask, but went for a nasal pillow for my first actual mask. However, the above septum problems were frequent enough that I found myself opening my mouth to breathe with the inevitable breaking of the air seal and me rediscovering my teenage ability to execute world class belches .
I then tried a full face mask, and in fact it's the one I use now. However, it has two problems. The first is that it effectively eliminates any chance of me *ever* being able to nose breathe. The reason is that the mask pinches the top of my nose in *exactly* the spot to make it almost impossible for me to open my left nostril by grinning. The second problem is that mouth breathing almost always wakes me up with my mouth and throat dried to the point of choking.
I then switched to a hybrid, giving me mouth and nose breathing options but without constricting the bridge of my nose. But it just never worked, and I ripped it off regularly.
Finally I returned to my full face. What I've found is that with strategic strap use, I can get the mask and straps to maintain a leftward tension on my face and nose so that I can sometimes get my left nostril open, and that offers the best chance of a good night. The problem here is, the mask is then well off centre, and leaks open up around my eyes and on the now-poorly-positioned right side. I've tried a jel insert around the eye area, but it was worse than useless. Overall, clearly the mask and I are fighting each other. There must be a better way!
So, things I'm considering trying:
- a total face mask -- eyes and everything
- a custom built mask -- I've seen youtube stuff about a guy in Australia, partnering with some people in Dallas
- shaving off my beard of 20+ years (if it would help, but I actually don't think it's the problem)
- maybe even something in the septoplasty arena