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Sleep Apnea
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Experiences with Sleep Apnea and Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) Devices

1 person has experienced Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) Devices. Have you?

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1 person has tried Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) Devices 0 people have prescribed Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) Devices
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Posted 10 years ago

I was first diagnosed with sleep apnea by the UCLA Medical Sleep Clinic 15 plus years ago. At the time, sleep apnea was relatively unpublicized and I was referred to UCLA only after my very able and esteemed personal doctor declared that, despite my complaints of exhaustion, extreme discomfort and unease, falling asleep in movies, meetings, during conversations, and, frighteningly, while driving, I had passed all the physical tests and - "good news" - I was fine. I asked him if that were so, why did I feel like I was dying? He then referred me to the sleep clinic where, after one night wired up, (sounds daunting, it's actually no big deal), the chief clinician reported that I had a severe case of sleep apnea; so extreme, that she did not want me to drive and asked whether I had experienced hallucinations, the likely next step in my ailment's course. She asked if I snored? "Yes". Did I snore as if I were choking - snore, rasp/catch, pause, snore again, to be repeated endlessly? My wife said, "Yes!" I was told in fact I WAS choking, and that I was failing to get restful regenerative deep rem sleep because of the apnea. I was ready to try anything (not necessarily a good state to be in), and when they suggested a CPAP machine would bring relief from my symptoms, if not from my condition, I agreed. (Surgery was discussed, but finally not seriously considered because I was told it was complicated, painful, and unreliable, and that it seemed wise to try out the CPAP first). I was however anxious about the prospect. I was also told I should use a good wedge pillow so that I could sleep with my head partially elevated while using the CPAP. Could I really sleep through the night like this? Every night? How complicated would this machine be to use and maintain? How loud was this thing? Mostly though - wait for it - mostly, how unseemly would I be to my wife and scary and cartoonish to my kids? Turns out, for me at least, the only good thing about being so desperate is that I was willing to try anything, is that I overcame my vanity and false pride, heeded the medical advice, talked openly and vulnerably with my wife, and went forward with the remedy and found a way to restore my health. The cpap machines now available have many options, are covered by most insurance, are quiet, portable, and after a brief adjustment period, comfortable. And they do not have to be inhibiting; that issue really speaks to you and to your partner. And consider the alternative. Separately, let me mention two not so positive things to consider: one minor, one major. First, be aware in selecting a CPAP machine and apparatus you're likely to encounter some slick salesmanship under the guise of professional medical advice, often encouraging you to go above what your insurance covers. Second, when I was first diagnosed with sleep apnea I was very defensive about it's likely relationship and association with obesity and overeating. For me it was real, and a shameful secret that I kept only from myself - no one else was fooled. I was in denial. When I got past being in denial, I was ashamed and scared because I seemed unable to control the problem. In my experience, in that condition, you're subject to quick, one time, overly simple, and sometimes drastic (and costly) remedies presented by even reputable institutions. Be cautious, be energetic, and seek help - and always get a second or third opinion.

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LionelBQ 10 years ago

Thank you for such a thorough shared experience! Reading about CPAP devices elsewhere made them sound a lot more uncomfortable and impractical than you've described them. I'm glad you were bold enough to try something different and that it works so well for you. I'm especially glad that you've shared the story here so that the community can learn from it! Thanks again, Bill!