RE: Your Personal CPAP Success Story - Post Here
As of today I have been six months on CPAP therapy. Seems like an appropriate milestone to provide this update along with my sincere appreciation to this community for teaching me what I need to know to take charge of my therapy and continuously improve its effectiveness.
CPAP therapy has been amazing for me. It is non-invasive, requires no drugs, and has had the single highest impact on my quality of life and daily effectiveness of any non-acute/emergency medical treatment I can remember.
So first off, thank you to SuperSleeper, the wiki editors, monitors, moderators, and other folks who operate this forum. Thank you to the medical professionals with sleep apnea who spend all day (or all night in sleep labs) working with patients and then come to this forum in your "spare time" to freely share your personal experience and knowledge. Thank you to the laymen who like me have entered this new place in our lives which were so impaired when we came here and who share our own tips, experiences, celebrate victories together and encourage others that they will feel better.
If I were to try and name all of the people who have helped me here I would risk leaving some out because so many of you give so generously of your time and expertise. Thanks to you all. One special mention I will make is trish6hundred who ensures that every newcomer gets an uplifting welcome message. And finally the good doctor DocWills, godspeed and safe travels on your mission to help treat refugees coming into Europe.
In other endeavors they would call a place like this a mastermind. People normally pay money to part of a mastermind, and here is a world-class resource with an active community of experts provided as a service at no cost to members. All they ask for is voluntary contributions of whatever is affordable based on the value this forum provides each individual so they can keep the lights on.
I had suffered for many months from what my doc called "general malaise", I just felt lousy and tired all the time. Went through a number of tests and diagnostics that basically cleared all the major systems. One day as I was leaving his office, he asked if I snored. I said my family thinks I do. And he suggested a sleep study.
The sleep study found severe sleep apnea and a couple nights later I came back for the titration study. I knew this was going to make a difference in my quality of life from the day after the titration study.
It was a terrible night with little sleep, and felt like a mad scientist was doing all kinds of weird and uncomfortable things to my poor tired body. Didn't get much sleep that night and felt miserable the next day.
But even with just a brief two hour period with AHI down from over 50 to 13, that next day was the first one in a long time that I didn't either take a nap or wished I could. I didn't feel all that rested, but I was alert the entire day. I knew this was the beginning of something life changing.
The weekend after my titration study I signed up here as a member. I had been lurking for a few weeks as I explored sleep apnea and found this forum to be a gold mine of info that was instrumental in me being able to take charge of my therapy, talk to the DME to choose the right kind of machine, and solve each problem as it came along.
Within about ten days, had my machine and the other gear to start my therapy on April 11.
They told me in the titration study that I was a mouth breather and so Full Face Mask was the recommended option for a mask. I struggled for weeks and months with leaks. Got lots of advice and tips here that eventually got me within the leak threshhold, but I still woke up a few times each night from leaks.
How to consistently reduce the AHI was a mystery. I was happy for the nights under 5, but I had no clue how to keep it there or why it went higher. With all the air leaks and what I now think were sleep disturbances from air leaks, I never was able to keep it consistently below 5.0. Even at that I was feeling so much better than before therapy that I could live with it if I had to.
One night I pulled out an old "stop snoring" chin strap and tried that with my FFM. It was like throwing a switch -- AHI dropped below five, and no major leaks. It was pretty amazing after all the gyrations I had been through with mixed success, that a simple chin strap nailed the leaks.
After about a week of good AHI and leaks under control, I began to wonder if I might be able to use the nasal pillows with the chin strap, and so I bought some with return insurance in case it didn't work out.
If the FFM/chin strap was as good as it gets, I would be happy and consider my therapy stable and successful. But I had no idea that the little bit of waking up (and perhaps arousals that didn't wake me up or I didn't remember in addition) was actually impacting my restful sleep.
Using the pillows, AHI is consistently below 2, no more major leaks, and the 95% air pressure has dropped from around 15 to around 10.
People joke about the cult of nasal pillows like it was the Borg... well I got assimilated. The nasal pillows took restful sleep for me to another level. They are so light weight and comfortable. And I don't wake up a few times a night anymore to wiggle my chin or move the FFM a touch to close a leak. It was a noticeable improvement and I found myself feeling better yet.
Sometimes I do wake up occasionally at night, and it's interesting when I do I realize that I was dreaming, which is another good thing I didn't remember doing in a long time.
I have read about reaching a plateau. I think I may be there right now. I feel so much better than I used to feel, and yet lately I find myself sometimes yawning during the day or noticing I didn't a good a night's rest as I have gotten used to. I think it's all relative. My worst night now is far better than my best night with untreated apnea.
Good sleep is so precious that now I pay attention to what impacts it. I am more aware of sleep disturbances. Alcohol before bed really does rob you of sleep. When I stay up too late or work an all niter I know what's going to happen the next morning.
And now if my AHI is higher than 2 I usually have a pretty good idea about why.
But that's all down in the noise compared to how I felt before vs after starting CPAP therapy.
If you are perusing this forum to help you decide whether to treat your apnea, I hope you get from all you read here that it is possible to treat it, and you can take charge and make a huge difference the success of your therapy. The CPAP machines we have today provide a wealth of useful data to help you understand what to do next, and there are people here who love reading that data and providing insights about it. Good luck to you, you have landed in a good place at apneaboard forum.