RE: singing exercises worked for me
There is a disconnect between SA and what might be considered (even incorrectly) "apnea symptoms". I think the importance of recognizing that can not be stressed vigorously enough, because not understanding that can lead to bad therapy decisions, including abandonment.
There is an entire surfeit of SA symptoms, and another cornucopia of positive results of therapy, and not everyone has the same set of symptoms, and certainly not all benefit from the same sets of results from XPAP therapy. And not all of the benefits are obvious; in fact, most of them are invisible while still exceptionally important.
XPAP therapy has to be customized for each patient to work well, and this takes time and dedication. Sadly, if you leave that to the sleep doc, he may not have the necessary motivation, and the results can be less than optimal. Often you have to take the bull by the horns and make that happen on your own.
It seems like to me, singing exercises might be the hard way. I admire your dedication and discipline, and it makes sense that toned airway muscles can make for an airway less prone to collapse, so good for you; it makes sense that your apneas might have lessened.
But XPAP therapy should not be discounted. Typically that is actually the easy way, and when done correctly it is virtually 100% effective. Compliance is usually only an issue if therapy is not being fitted properly to the needs of the individual patient. If it is, compliance is nearly guaranteed; if it isn't, compliance becomes difficult.
Surprising as this may sound, how you feel is really not important, and probably should be ignored, as it is not a reliable indicator of efficacy, and efficacy is what is important about XPAP therapy.
So my eyes narrow just a bit when someone refers to XPAP relieving certain symptoms (or not) and how that can considered what is important. Not that it doesn't relieve certain symptoms, but often the efficacy of therapy has no discernible connection to how you feel, whatsoever. In reality, the therapy can be working amazingly behind the background improving lots of things for you physically, and you may not notice any change to speak of.
We are all conditioned to assume that getting medical help and it being effective is measured by whether we feel better or not, but in certain cases that is actually not a valid assumption, and XPAP therapy often is one of them. I think it might be a fool's errand to assume blindly that what symptoms one has or seem to change once in therapy are all that directly connected to efficacy. It seems more important to verify this through the numbers rather than how you might feel that this is helping you, or not. If I feel better, does this mean my cholesterol has gone down? Of course not. Again, you need hard numbers to really know, and I think the same thing goes for XPAP therapy.
So the point here is to continue therapy and verify using the numbers as a guide to efficacy, and ignore how you might feel, which isn't actually really all that reliable of an indicator. Otherwise, you can get steered in what appears to be the right direction but is actually just a diversion into the wrong direction. Basing therapy tweaks on an unreliable indicator is not a prescription for success, and can cause folks to abandon needed therapy that is actually helping them, whether they realize it or not.
Bottom line, being possibly a little too concerned about how you feel and trying to relate that to the therapy or using that to tweak the therapy is a mistake, and takes your eye off the ball keeping you from concentrating on ways to make the therapy work for you. XPAP therapy may actually make one feel worse in some ways for the first few months, but there is an adjustment period; you have to get over that hump. Sometimes that is a difficult thing, but it will really be difficult if you are enduring something difficult that you also have convinced yourself is not working simply because you don't "feel better". That is a classic "head fake"; don't fall for it.
How you feel is always something that is important, but getting the therapy tweaked to lower your numbers is what works, and often the patient taking charge is what makes it work. You just have to have faith that whether you feel better or not, lower numbers are directly related to therapy efficacy, and are the important thing to chase, and that will eventually change how you feel for the better, to the extent that XPAP therapy has the ability to change it. And whether you feel better or not, lower numbers are an iron-clad indicator that your sleep is probably orders of magnitude healthier than it was before therapy. And that is what is important.
I had a different experience than you. While there was an adjustment period, in a couple of months I was getting acceptable numbers, and little tweaks here and there have made them go steadily down ever since. I also adjusted to the change (mask, hose, etc) without much problem. But the results I see have little to do with how I feel, and more to do with the positive benefits that I know these low numbers are giving me.
I also am not falling asleep in front of the TV or in meetings or nearly driving into bridge abutments at 8 AM on the way to work. But I really don't feel any "better", because I never really felt "bad" in the first place. I had severe apnea, but ignored it because I felt asymptomatic, and didn't realize just how sinister it was and how it was probably taking years off my life. If someone pokes you in the throat with a pencil once every minute all night long while you are asleep and it rouses you but you never really wake up enough to realize it, you don't ever even realize it is happening.
Of course everyone has a different story, but what made my story successful was that I researched the issue, took control of my own therapy, was given a S9 AutoSet (APAP) that titrates the correct pressure when approached correctly by the user, found a mask that is so comfortable that I almost don't know I am wearing it, and made it all work for me through hard work and dedication.
I would like to think that this approach would help nearly anyone, and that even if one has bad XPAP experiences one might be able to find the correct combination that will provide therapy one can comply with and that will be effective, as long as they are motivated to keep trying. Knowing that lower numbers are the goal is good motivation. Not being sure if the therapy is making you feel better is not good motivation, especially if you do not feel better, although behind the scenes the therapy is working invisibly to improve everything else.
It's difficult to hit a target if you are looking at the wrong target. If you are dealt a bad hand in poker, you can draw new cards, or throw your cards in the pot and get out of the game. But in this situation, staying in the game might be exceptionally important, so I urge everyone having difficulty to continue trying. Those who have the discipline for singing lessons should find that sort of behavior pretty easy to emulate.
"This might make the difference between making it to 70 and making it to 90" was all I had to hear.