My Sleep Apnea

My 15 year old BiPAP Machine left vs my new CPAP machine right.

I have severe sleep apnea. In the early 2000’s I was visiting my aunt in Simi Valley and another aunt in Lancaster, both in California and both aunts told me that not only is my snoring loud, but they could hear me gasp for air in my sleep. In 2003 I was waking up in the middle of the night literally gasping for air. I couldn’t inhale any air at all, yet I was able to exhale what air I had left in my lungs with no problem. I thought I was going to die, and this happened every night. I went to my doctor and they gave me an inhaler and they ordered a sleep study and a year later I got my first machine which is the BiPAP machine in the image above on the left.

My original sleep study was great because I was taking Ambien at the time, so I was able to go to sleep immediately. They only had me there for a few hours, and during that time they gave me both tests. They had me sleep without the mask, for I’m guessing an hour, then they woke me up to put the mask on me connected to a BiPAP machine and conducted the test for another hour, then I was released. It did take a year for me to finally receive my BiPAP machine, but it wasn’t an issue getting it to me. The only time the company that sold the BiPAP to me contacted me was when they were trying to set up an appointment to bring it to my house and to show me how it works.

Last year in February I had a new sleep study so that I could get a new machine since mine was 14 years old at the time, and I had the hardest time getting to sleep. First of all, the insurance company won’t let me take sleeping pills anymore because they think I’m addicted to them. I have sleeping disorders and insomnia. If I can’t sleep, I need something to help me to sleep, otherwise I’m up until 4am staring at the ceiling.

So last year I was at the new sleep study and the room was a nice room that resembled a bedroom in an office with a nice bed that looked and felt brand new, but it was a strange bed and the room was hot and I just couldn’t sleep. I was awake for about 80% of the study. It’s difficult to sleep when you don’t have anything to help you sleep and you have all these wires on your head and body and you are told to sleep on your back in a strange environment in a strange bed in a hot room.

They had me come back a few months later for the second part of the sleep study which was the same exact thing, but the only difference was I had to sleep with the mask on from the same exact BiPAP machine that I was currently using. The same thing happened, I was awake for 80% of the night, but this time I had a mask on blowing air into my nose and I was awake for it. It’s so frustrating.

So I figured I had failed the sleep study both times and there was no way I was ever going to get a new machine. I was surprised when this year I received a phone call to tell me that I had been approved for a new machine. This was the most difficult machine to get because they kept calling me to tell me they were missing documents from my doctor’s office and that I would have to wait for it to be approved. Then one day they called me to tell me that I’m not going to get my machine at all because they have cancelled me because they didn’t get the documents. I called the doctor’s office every time they called me, and every single time the doctor’s office told me that they did in fact send every document that was requested, multiple times. It took 3 months of getting these phone calls telling me they were missing documents. Don’t call ME to tell me you don’t have documents, call the doctor’s office. I think that is so unprofessional of a company to do that to a patient. Don’t involve me in this, just work to get me my machine.

So finally I did get the machine and it is a much smaller machine, but this one is a CPAP machine instead of a BiPAP machine. What’s the difference? Well, a CPAP machine is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and a BiPAP is Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure. I was told back in 2005 that the BiPAP stood for Bidirectional Positive Airway Pressure.

My first night with this new CPAP machine wasn’t good. I was awake half the night. I think I was just not used to this new mask and it was constantly leaking air. Well, that was my fault, I didn’t have it on tight enough. The second night I had it on much tighter, but I kept turning the machine off because I thought the mask was too small because I couldn’t breathe through my left nostril. It came with a guide that you place on your face to see which mask you need. It told me I need the small, but it was too small, I feel more comfortable with the large one.

This new machine is connected to an online company that tracks my sleep, and the purpose is so the insurance company can make sure I am using it. If I don’t use it, then they don’t want to pay for it. That’s literally what the company that sold the machine told me. They are also watching to make sure I’m using it. They said I need to use it at least 4 hours a night for 3 months or so, and if I follow this, then the insurance company will pay for the machine until it’s paid for, and then the machine is mine to keep. But if I don’t use it, they will know. Why wouldn’t I use it? I have sleep apnea lol.

I am so thankful to have this new machine, because I was so worried my old one was going to stop working and that I would eventually die from my sleep apnea. I would rather die in my sleep not knowing I’m dying rather than be in pain, but I’m not even 50 yet, I’m not ready to die. My mother died at age 42 of a heart attack in her sleep, and I know for a fact she snored really loud. I think she had sleep apnea, and just didn’t know. What a way to go though. Let me get wrinkles before I die though.

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Fitbit Sleep

fitbit sleepI was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea in 2005. I visited 2 different aunts from 2002 to 2004 and they both told me that I snored really loud and that I gasped for air. In the summer of 2005 I was waking up in the middle of the night really gasping for air, I mean like I was struggling to breathe like someone had their hands around my neck and was choking me to death. I went to a sleep study and they told me I had severe sleep apnea and prescribed a BiPap machine.

I wore the BiPap machine mask every night for a decade, until I lost 70lbs and the pressure was too much and I couldn’t use it anymore. I didn’t think I had any sleeping issues with it, but I was wrong. I think I just didn’t want to continue to use it because I was sick and tired of having to be tethered to a machine for the rest of my life. Can you imagine not being able to go to bed unless you have a ball and chain locked to your ankle? That’s what it feels like. But in all fairness, if I don’t have that ball and chain locked on my face (in this case) I could likely die.

My mother died in her sleep from a heart attack and she was obese and I remember how bad her snoring was when she was alive. The doctor at the sleep study told me that I could die from a stroke or a heart attack in my sleep if I don’t have a BiPap macine. I believe that if I never went to that sleep study, I wouldn’t be here right now blogging about this.

I just bought a Fitbit Charge HR from Amazon to help motivate me to exercise more often so I can lose weight, and I knew it tracked my sleep, but I wasn’t as motivated by that until this very moment. When I saw my sleep from yesterday, I wasn’t that shocked by my sleeping patterns. It says that it took me 8 minutes to fall asleep, I woke up 6 times, I was restless 7 times and I was awake/restless for 30 minutes and I was only asleep for 6 hours and 6 minutes. The reason is because I set the alarm to wake me up at 8am. I want to wake up earlier than I do because I am trying to change my sleeping habits. I really hate sleeping so late. But then I went back to sleep because my body really needed it. I only slept for 1 hour and 48 minutes, but I was awake 4 times, I was restless 4 times and I was awake/restless for 27 minutes, which is basically half the time I was asleep.

Last night I decided to do an experiment and use my BiPap machine. I have gained half of the weight back that I lost, so I’m getting back into that zone where I really should start using the machine again. The air pressure wasn’t too high, it was the way it was when I was first diagnosed with sleep apnea, so that right there tells me I really need to be wearing my mask again every night. So last night I slept for 9 hours and 13 minutes which tells me I am catching up on much needed sleep. I only woke up 1 time, I was only restless 4 times and I was awake/restless for 8 minutes the whole night. What a huge difference a BiPap machine makes.

This Fitbit watch has really made a difference in my life in just owning it for 2 days. Not only will it help me (hopefully) lose weight, but it helped me to realize that I need to get more sleep and I need to use my BiPap machine every night, which I am going to do.