I wanted to formally introduce myself as I have been lurking on this forum for several days now. I'm sorry if this, my first post here, gets a bit long winded. I'M not always like that ;)
I got my CPAP machine and started my treatment 2 days ago on Thursday Feb 4th. My journey through the health care system to the realization that I may have sleep apnea to starting my treatment started about 13 months ago when my family doctor recommended I get tested. I've read a lot of threads here in the last few days and went through a lot of the same experiences many of you went through.
But first thing's first. My name is Stéphane, I'm a 45 years old French Canadian man and I live about 20 miles due east of Montreal in a gorgeous small town. I live with my life partner of 18 years Isabelle and I'm a freelance Web designer and developer working from home in my small business.
Regarding sleep apnea, I'd been struggling with sleep apnea related problems for years without realizing where they came from. They included struggling with my weight and having a hard time getting it under control, no matter what I tried to memory issues and, in the last year, an increasing difficulty to concentrate on my work for long periods of time. That's in addition to traditional symptoms like sleepiness, general lack of energy, waking up with headaches, etc, etc.
It was after talking to one of Isabelle's cousins who is younger than I am and had been dealing with even more severe symptoms that we started suspecting I may have sleep apnea. I booked an appointment with my family doctor and he ordered some tests for me. Now, in Canada, healthcare may be free but there are other drawbacks. He asked for the tests in January 2009 but the hospital didn't call me until October, 10 months later. Up here we go through the pulmonology department of large enough hospitals to get tested. The upside though is that we can usually take the test at home which I did.
The test determined that I had severe sleep apnea with 42+ events an hour and oxygen often going down in the low 70s and sometimes lower. My average heart rate at night was higher than when I'm sitting down being a couch potato and watching TV. Above all else, that fact really scared me...
A month later, the hospital lent me a CPAP machine (a Respironics M series Auto-CPAP) to determine the pressure level for my treatments. I brought it home with a full face mask to keep for an entire weekend (3 nights). I didn't notice the mask model I had but it was very uncomfortable and I had to keep it very tight to avoid leaks. I also fully woke up 3 or 4 times a night for the 3 nights I had it. When I woke up, it was usually because the mask had moved and was leaking like crazy with 15 to 18 pressure blowing in my face. Felt like a leaf blower directed right at my face. Very uncomfortable to say the least. Despite that, even after the first night, I woke up more rested and refreshed than I had in years...
When I brought the CPAP back, the test data determined I needed a pressure of 15 with a range of 4 to 18. As I said I really hated my test mask but liked how the Auto-CPAP reacted and adapted to my breathing although, when it reached the full 15 pressure, it wouldn't really go down unless I closed it and started it again. One thing is for sure though, I don't think I could handle a fixed CPAP machine, especially set at 15...
So when I saw my doc again about 3 weeks ago, he prescribed an auto-CPAP machine with humidifier because dry mouth and nose was another thing I experienced during my 3 nights of test. After that I started researching my options and discovered that Respironics had recently released a successor to the M Series I'd used during my test so that is what I asked my DME for when I realized it is one of the 3 choices they had. As I hoped, I am very happy with how the System One works. It "feels" much smarter than the M Series and reacts even faster to my breathing. Looking at my data after 2 nights, it seems the 90% pressure is 8 so almost half of my presciption. I woke up only once Thursday night and not at all last night and I slept about 7 hours both nights.
I think the magic ingredient here apart from the System One is the mask I chose which is the ResMed Mirage Activa LT (nasal). It is extremely comfortable and *never* leaks which probably explains my 90% pressure of 8. Makes me even happier I didn't choose a fixed CPAP machine. I modified a coat hanger to have the hose coming from above and behind me which means I can turn on either side without the hose tugging on my mask as it had with the test mask and machine. I sleep mostly on my back but sometimes turn on either side. The Activa is also a LOT quieter than the one I had for testing.
So now I've just had my 2 most restful nights in years and, although I feel great today, I can feel my "sleep debt" underneath and it feels like it will take me a while to get back to normal... But I feel very lucky, one that I have a great doctor, and secondly, that I could get the machine and mask *I* wanted eventhough I have to pay for them myself in full.
Finally, it is very nice to "meet" you all! I'll certainly have questions to ask and will try to help with my experience when I can. Have a great weekend and, sleep well!