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A Thank You Letter to My CPAP Machine

by Yolanda Clay 2 months ago in wellness
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CPAP Machines Aren't All Bad

The tried-and-true CPAP machine has been getting a bad rap as of late. There have been television commercials bemoaning what misery it is to use one of them. I thought it only fitting to counter that narrative with a different point of view. So, I decided to write a thank you letter of sorts to my CPAP machine. This little marvel pumps life’s breath into me each night and deserves many accolades.

As of this writing, CPAP machines are still the gold standard for treating symptoms of sleep apnea. People have more choices than ever to help manage their sleep apnea. Some of the other alternatives to treat obstructive sleep apnea are nerve stimulators; implants stimulate a nerve to keep the airway open. There are suspension lines that are used to reposition the hyoid bone or tongue to keep the airway open. Oral appliances are used to reposition the jaw and tongue, so the airway is not obstructed; Also, there are multiple alternatives to choose from when treating obstructive sleep apnea including even more invasive surgery. My sleep apnea symptoms are well managed with use of a CPAP.

There is nothing quite like waking up gasping for air. Sometimes, I would dream that I was underwater and drowning, but to feel that nightmare manifest into reality is something I never want to experience again. This beautiful existence we call life can be divided into two time periods for me, a period preceding my CPAP and the time period after being blessed with my CPAP. Undiagnosed patients who have sleep apnea may not even know they stop breathing in their sleep. The only signs of this illness may be unexplained fatigue, morning headaches, snoring, and other symptoms. Sleep apnea, if unchecked can lead to high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, metabolic syndrome and other diseases. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that requires medical intervention.

When my doctor suspected I had obstructive sleep apnea, I was scheduled for a sleep study. I would be hooked up to monitors and observed as I slept. I already knew that I was someone who woke up gasping for air. So, I had a good idea that sleep apnea was present. The room used for my sleep study was cozy and not at all sterile. I had a lot of anxiety about being watched as I slept. So, my doctor prescribed a sleeping pill for me. It was hard to get to sleep with all of the lead monitors attached to my chest, head, and legs. I felt like I tossed and turned the whole time in bed. When the technician woke me up, I had stopped breathing numerous times during the 4 hours. I don’t know how I ever got any semblance of sleep.

At this point in the sleep study, the technician started me on a CPAP machine. She placed a mask on me and let me get used to breathing against the air pressure. A CPAP is a continuous positive airway pressure machine. It works by holding open the airway during sleep to prevent you from not breathing. The machine is attached to a hose and a mask is worn over the nose and/or mouth. I had a full mask that fit over my mouth and nose. I am glad, because I had the suspicion that I might be a nighttime mouth breather. After she adjusted my mask to fit, I laid back down and drifted off to sleep. I slept 4 more hours of uninterrupted sleep. I would have slept more but the technician woke me up to get ready to leave. I wanted to take the CPAP machine with me, but it was not allowed. I had to wait for my appointment with durable medical equipment. I would receive a CPAP of my own after meeting with them.

Durable medical equipment is any medical equipment used in a home. I looked forward to the appointment, because I wanted to experience that same level of restful sleep that I had in the sleep lab. I was shown into the respiratory therapist’s office and sat at a round table with 5 CPAP machines on it. Each one functioned the same but had its own bells and whistles. I viewed some with humidifiers and some without. I chose one with a humidifier because I have an issue with dry eyes. The humidifier used distilled water; this would prove disquieting in the future.

Next, it was onto masks. I knew from the sleep study, that I wanted a full-face mask that covered my nose and mouth. The respiratory therapist talked to me about caring for my CPAP, mask, hose, and filters. I had to keep them clean. We spoke about how important cleaning was because a dirty equipment could cause infections. I was pleased with my choice of model and mask. Once I got it home, I had the best night of sleep. I woke up without my usual morning headache. I was refreshed and ready to start my day. I was so grateful that I could have cried. I treasure this little machine more than any luxury item.

The gratitude I have for my CPAP took on new meaning at the beginning of the pandemic. When we were faced with bare shelves in the grocery stores, along with worry about where my next roll of toilet paper was coming from, I had another search on my hands. Remember, when I mentioned that my CPAP had a humidifier. Well, that humidifier used distilled water and it was in short supply in my area. My CPAP machine’s only flaw is it does not function separately from the humidifier. The humidifier must be used to use the CPAP. I was up a creek without a paddle.

Even if I wanted to buy another CPAP, I would be out of luck. During this time, there was also a huge backorder on CPAP machines. So, patients who desperately needed them were having to wait until the machines were back in stock. I was down to my last half gallon of water, when I found a store that had 7 gallons left in stock. I was tempted to buy all 7 gallons., But I thought about the other CPAP users out there and I bought only 2 gallons. Well, I learned my lesson. Now, I have a good supply of distilled water on hand at all times. These little machines are medical marvels and even with a campaign to maligned them, they are true life savers. I will continue to give a million thanks for the better quality of life allotted to me by the mighty CPAP.


About the author

Yolanda Clay

I am a curious seeker of truth, and I also love Shoebill Storks.



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