Remember this day? So Fucked Up
I ended up with my friends Richard and Michele. At the end of the night (or early morning) around two-ish on the fifth, Richard and I were sitting up talking photography, after Michele had enough sense to go on to bed and I was falling asleep in the chair I was sitting in. Next thing I know Rich is telling me to go on into the spare room and try and get some sleep. So I stumbled on in there. I tried. Really I did. When ever I would start to drift off I would awaken with a start. Sometime after three (I think) I gave up and got dressed and let myself out the front door and made the drive home.
Got home and into bed and slept for 7-8 hours straight. With my faithful Darth Vader Machine somewhere at my side. Unusual to sleep that long for me. Reckon I was tired...
I generally sleep 5-6 hours a night. Even with a sleep aid. It seems to be enough. Any less than that though, and I’m screwed.
Am I addicted? To a machine? Dunno about that. Still not crazy about sleeping with a mask, but without it, I would surely die. Or at least collapse in an incomprehensible, exhausted heap. Eventually to die. I was so close before I got The Darth Vader Machine. I was past exhausted. I have no doubt I was a danger to myself and others. At the end of that time I was terrified of driving any distance because as little rest as I was getting, I would fall asleep almost anywhere. Even across town.
Think about that ~ ANYWHERE. At any time.
On the bus. Sitting at my desk at home, at work. Behind the wheel. Literally anywhere.
I was sooooo exhausted. I really didn’t know what was wrong with me. My doctor suggested a sleep study because it sounded like I had OSA. Obstructive Sleep Apnea. I said I’d think about it. The thing that really pushed me over to the dark side was when they were gonna try to put me on medical leave at work. Whether I wanted it or not. I didn’t want it.
But it was rapidly becoming apparent (even inside my thick, sleep deprived, skull) that something was terribly, terribly wrong. And something had to be done. Look at the signs and symptoms:
"Common signs of obstructive sleep apnea include unexplained daytime sleepiness, restless sleep, and loud snoring (with periods of silence followed by gasps). Less common symptoms are morning headaches; insomnia; trouble concentrating; mood changes such as irritability, anxiety and depression; forgetfulness; increased heart rate and/or blood pressure; decreased sex drive; unexplained weight gain; increased urination and/or nocturia; frequent heartburn or Gastroesophageal reflux disease; and heavy night sweats."
Let me tell you, I had them ALL at the time before I sought treatment.
The Study Part 1
Probably one of the most uncomfortable nights in my life. Being hooked up to all those electronics and trying to sleep. No matter how homey they try to make it, let’s face it, IT SUCKS. Of course when you go back for the titration study, then IT BLOWS! *grins*
It was not a good night. I found it hard to believe that they could have gotten any good data from that. I was outta there by 5:30 AM.
Couple of weeks later I went to the doctor and it was for definite I had some form of OSA. We set up the titration study THAT DAY. I could not take much more of this crap.
The Study Part 2
For the uninitiated the titration study is where you try out the CPAP (at the sleep lab) and by varying the settings on the machine they figure out what settings are optimal for you while you are trying to be asleep.
CPAP defined ~ continuous positive airway pressure, in which a controlled air compressor generates an airstream at a constant pressure. This pressure is prescribed by the patient's physician, based on an overnight test or titration. Newer CPAP models are available which slightly reduce pressure upon exhalation to increase patient comfort and compliance. CPAP is the most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.
That night was a disaster. They got me hooked up to all the electronics and put the mask on me and I lay down. And had a fucking panic attack. I never have these. But I still knew what it was!
Blood pressure was up, breathing was shallow, I was sweating like mad. In a matter of 30 minutes or so I had soaked the bedclothes in sweat. I was in a fearful state. I sat up and pulled tore that mask off and started on all the electrical connections. I felt like a fucking cyborg...And I was going to get out of there.
The tech came in and tried to talk me out of leaving, but I was having none of it. He got the electricals off me with minimal damage to them or me, and I bolted. Both the sleep clinic and my doctor (The Doctor herself called, I was impressed.) called and tried to get me to set another appointment. I was inconsolable.
Reconciled or Did I Just Give Up Surrender?
Of course once I realized this was my only course of action to get treatment (Well it was!) I called the clinic myself and set the appointment. The second time went better. I guess I had reconciled myself to it. On my next visit to the doctor she had already written the prescription up and promptly sent me off to collect the machine. Her office had already made the appointment for me. I WAS IN THAT BAD OF SHAPE.
I went over to the facility (A division for home care) and acquainted with the Remstar and fitted for a mask. It was just one of those over the nose jobs. I was skeptical about that because I knew I SNORED LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN. I could wake the dead. The tech was a beautiful girl, who said if I had any trouble I could call the 800 number day or night. And she or her partner would answer the call depending who had the duty. I never got that far. But it didn’t take me long (about a week, I think) to figure out that this mask wasn’t going to work. So I called them (during daylight hours) and asked for a solution.
She wanted me to try a chin strap. I said I would, but could she loan me one of the full coverage (over the nose and mouth) masks as well? Just in case? And she did. Fitted it for me and showed me how to adjust it. I tried the damned chinstrap for about a week. No dice. It was uncomfortable. And I don’t think it really worked.
So I tried the full coverage. Better. But I still wasn’t sleeping as well as I could. I thought. Another call to the doctor and the Technician (she was cute!) They said to give it some time as I was still getting acclimated to the machine.
RUFKM!! Or CPAP ~ Don't Leave Home Without IT!
It was around this time I had to visit my sister in Florida. A nice thousand mile drive. One way. But it would get me out of the house and out of town for a week and a half or so.-And I was sleeping better. If I got tired I stopped. And I took my time too. Met some interesting folk in that trip.
Saw one or two old friends. Realized from talking to one of my buds there were not too many of the old gang left. Seems if you stayed in town your mortality rate fell dramatically. Or you ended up in jail. Or a host of other things. None of them good. And let’s face it I didn’t run with the preppie or jock crowd. I was in the other group. We believed in sex, drugs, and Rock-n-Roll. A lot of us died young and left (a fairly) good looking corpse.
But I digress...
A day or two after arriving I must have become acclimated to the machine because one morning I fairly bounced out of bed. (!) I remember I was up before any one in the house. And I was sitting there drinking coffee and I realized, I FELT GREAT! It was actually good to be alive.
I hadn’t felt this good in literally YEARS! I was frickin’ energized. I felt that way until recently.
Make no mistake about this... The machine has literally save my life. Literally.
So if I am addicted ~ I really don’t give a shit. The machine is my friend.
I think the current home and work conditions have robbed me. I think once I get the home thing settled and things level out for a while, I’ll start sleeping better again.
Let’s face it, I’m completely stressed out. At least I know it.
But I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope it isn’t an oncoming train!
And one more thing - The machine is usually with me wherever I go. When traveling it is one of my carry ons. I'd be screwed with out it.