Trying Out New CPAP Masks (For My Sleep Apnea)

Last week, I trekked out to the suburbs to visit the place that supplied me with my CPAP machine – a device that provides continuous pressure/air while I sleep, via a mask. This is something I use for my sleep apnea, a condition where my body “wakes up” due to low oxygen levels.

When this happens, I’m not necessarily conscious. As I’m asleep, the muscles in my throat relax and contract, and slowly block off airflow. As a result, the oxygen levels in my body lower. When they reach a critical enough point, my body “wakes up” to breathe. For some people, it can be as dramatic as a gasp for air. For me, my body simply struggles a little more to breathe before going back to its earlier state.

With this perpetual waking up, my body never is really able to stay in REM sleep for prolonged periods of time. When I got tested for Sleep Apnea and went through a sleep study… it was determined that I wake up about 179 times each evening (an average of 40 times per hour).


So I got the CPAP machine to help with this. Lately, there’s been some concern with the mask, as I’ve been taking off the mask in the middle of the night. I’m not really aware that I do this, it just seems to happen. So I went to go talk with the folks who provide me my CPAP device, in hopes of getting a different mask.

As it turns out, while I’ve been good about wearing my mask each night… the amount of time each night is pretty low. On average, I spend about 2 hours, 49 minutes with it on. On top of that, I’m also losing a bit as the machine also measures leakage (48 minutes). So technically, I’m only using the mask about 2 hours each evening.

I got fitted with a different mask in the hopes that this would help. It’s been a few days now, and I’m actually seeing worse results with this guy. I’m hoping to wait it out a few more days to see if things improve, but not sure if it’ll get better or not. We’ll see how this goes.

In the meanwhile, here are some other links from when I first got diagnosed with sleep apnea. The sleep study was a pretty interesting process in and of itself:

Here’s me, trying on the mask for the first time.

This is Dr. Chang. I met with him to discuss the findings of my sleep study, and to talk about possible treatment options for the apnea.

See that thing he’s holding in his right hand? I took this photo about a minute before he shoved it up my nose and down my throat. I’m serious. I’ve got video to prove it.

This is from my original sleep study at Northwestern. It was a weird experience, going to a hotel room and having someone hook me up with a crapton of wires, then falling asleep knowing that someone in another room was observing me.

// Edit: On an unrelated note, my snoring is pretty bad as well… though it’s not necessarily causing my apea (more of a side effect). You can talk to Liz, and she can tell you how bad it gets.

I’m like my dad in that way – we both are pretty quiet guys during the day, but when we’re asleep… sawing logs is a gentle descriptor. We get pretty loud.

Wherein I Am Videotaped, Unawares
Overnight Sleep Study, Northwestern
Seeing a Side of Me I’ve Never Seen Before: Visiting the Ear/Nose/Throat Doc
CPAP Machine and Mask (aka “The Vader Trainer”)

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