Things I Have Learned After Six Weeks of Using a CPAP Machine

Left: The ResMed Mirage Quattro CPAP mask: my connection to restful sleep

After completing my recent sleep studies and learning the significant extent of my sleep apnea, I received a CPAP machine in late November to help control this potentially deadly condition. This morning I had my first post-CPAP visit with my excellent sleep disorder physician, Dr. Louis Tartaglia, and we went over the data collected on the machine's digital memory card. We met at the offices of the group that specializes in sleep disorders, Pulmonary & Critical Care Specialists, which by the way has an excellent setup. All facets of the treatments are available at the same site: physicians' offices, sleep study center, and the medical supplies company.

One-stop shopping, this place.

Dr. Tartaglia, by the way, has quite a dry sense of humor, and he reminds me of Al Pacino in his mannerisms. Today he discussed my pre-CPAP apnea and its severity, noting that my Apnea-Hypopnea Index scores were "enough to kill two healthy adult men. But did you share? No sir. You kept all those apnea episodes to yourself."

Hey: you have to laugh at this stuff, or you will drive yourself nuts with the worrying. A score of 30 is considered "severe," and my averages have been over 50 episodes per hour. This rose to as high as 60 per hour during REM sleep.

Anyways, since starting the machine my apnea episodes have dropped to 3.4 per hour over the last six weeks, and I have noticed a significant improvement in feeling rested when I wake up. Gradually my energy levels have started to rise, and I usually make it until the late afternoon before feeling tired. By comparison, I used to wake up tired, and by 1:00 in the afternoon it was a real fight to keep from dozing off. My wife says that I am less cranky, that my snoring is all but gone, and that I am more pleasant these days, although the face mask sometimes shifts when I turn over and causes squeaky noises from escaping air.

Dr. Tartaglia also adjusted the initial titrated pressure on my machine from 10.00 cm H2O to 15 cm H2O. I experienced a bit of difficulty getting enough air when I first put on the mask, and it always felt like I was working hard to draw enough air until the machine gradually raised the pressure. Other than this minor adjustment, my transition to a CPAP machine has been fairly smooth, and I have been averaging 6-7 hours each night with the device, not missing a single evening so far.

Now, if I could just get my adult children to quit making so much late-night noise, I might regain even more energy.