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Adventures In Dreamland

POSTED May 26, 2009 4:39 p.m.
Weeks ago I talked about my sleep apnea and the resultant recommendation for a CPAP machine. Well, the machine has arrived.
Oh, where to start…
It took several weeks from the point that the machine was ordered to the point it was ready for pick up and in that time I worried about how I was going to be able to make it work for me.
You see, I’m not sure if I was clear in my last column about the CPAP experience during the sleep study but just in case I wasn’t — it sucked.
I was so disappointed that I was near tears because I’d been hoping I’d finally found an answer to the debilitating fatigue (and hallucinations) that I’d been suffering for almost a year but my hopes were effectively crushed as I drove home that early morning. My head ached from the continuous dry air that went whooshing up my sinuses all night, my eyes were gritty with fatigue and I felt a head cold coming. Truly, this did not seem like the answer to my problem but rather an additional set of issues that I didn’t want to take on.
But I was out of options so I went ahead and made the order for my own machine.
The call came and I had to go to Modesto to pick it up. There was an hour-long class I had to complete (who knew it was so complicated?) and soon I was heading back to Oakdale with my very expensive (thank goodness for insurance) machine that I was fairly certain I was going to hate.
It came with hoses and masks, a humidifier and instructions — all tucked neatly inside a sharp, black carry case.
I went home, took the hoses and masks out and then stared at the equipment, wondering when my life had come to this.
Okay, I’ll admit, I was having a pity-party and I was doing it in grand style.
Fast forward to the first night of wearing the apparatus. I made my husband promise he wouldn’t laugh. But since I looked like a character straight out of a low-budget sci-fi flick, it was hard for him to hold back the snickers. My husband wasn’t the only one getting the giggles — my sister couldn’t even look at me without bursting into peals of laughter. I scowled at them both and then made them put the hoses and masks on just so they would know what kind of hell I was going through. My sister couldn’t even wear it for a full minute. It made her drool. My husband, on the other hand, looked quite comfortable and didn’t seem to mind one bit that he looked ridiculous. In fact, I half expected him to inquire if he could get a machine of his own. Ugh.
So back to the first night … I settled in, tried to forget that I was wearing this contraption and continually reminded myself that I would adapt and when I did I would feel better. No more fatigue. No more seeing strange things roaming my bedroom. No more wandering around in a mental fog.
I managed to fall asleep until about 3 a.m. That’s about all I could take. I ripped the thing off my face and promptly went back to sleep. My husband said I started snoring immediately after the mask came off.
Each night after that has been progressively better, though I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy to get used to. Here’s the upside to all this: it works. When I wear the mask I don’t snore (something my husband is deliriously happy about) and I’m not as fatigued. I can certainly feel the difference when I haven’t worn the mask, which has encouraged me to continue even though I still hate it. The bottom line is this: my health demands that I make this work because I have too much drive and ambition to let something like this take me down.
If I’m going to check out of this world, it won’t be in my sleep: it’ll be kicking and screaming, holding on with both hands until the fabric rips down the middle — because that’s just who I am.
So bring it on, CPAP machine. Bring it!

Kim Van Meter is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at kvanmeter@oakdaleleader.com or by calling 847-3021.

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