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We picked up the permanent CPAP machine on Monday, and it’s taken me a couple of days to get adjusted to it. It’s the exact same unit that my friend Lord B uses, and we grabbed it for the very same reasons he did (durability and low power draw, both considerations for camping), plus of course his endorsement that it was a good machine. I also got a new face-mask with the new unit: the temporary one had a medium-sized full face-mask; I upgraded to a large because the medium was just too small to wear comfortably. It kept waking me up every time the seal around my mouth and nose was compromised (by touching the pillow or wrinkling my nose or whatever) by blasting me with a narrow jet of air at 13cm/H²O pressure. The new mask is considerably more robust, and my sleep patterns reflect that.

Using a full face-mask has resulted in some strange problems. First, it’s set 13cm/H²O, which is a considerable amount of air pressure (although that’s what’s prescribed for sleep apnea as severe as mine.) For the first little while I would wake up with a sore chest owing to several solid hours of trying to breathe against that pressure. My chest and diaphragm have adjusted to that so it’s not an issue anymore, but I’m still running into the “inflation” problem. Simply put, some of that pressure down my trachea gets re-routed down my esophagus, and by the time I wake up I have to burp. Hugely.

And then, even with a built-in humidifier, I get dry mouth. I wake up every morning with a mouth that feels like a glue trap. I’ve tried upping the humidity settings, but there seems to be very specific threshold between waking up with dry mouth and waking up because there’s so much condensation inside the face mask that it pools up and soaks my beard, and I’m still trying to find the balance point.

Also — and this one surprised me — I must have gotten so used to tossing and turning over the years that my back has no idea what to do with eight hours of deep, almost-motionless sleep. If I’m not really careful about arranging myself as I go to sleep I wake up in the mornings feeling stiff as hell. Does that happen to normal people?

As for the noise level, the Fiancée™ says she’s gotten used to the rhythmic wheezing from the machine — I think it bothers me more than it does her by now. I think it makes me sound like Darth Vader. She teases me that I’m “Jedi in the streets, Sith in the sheets” but she also claims its a hell of a lot better than listening to me snore and stop breathing all night. Also on the plus side, I’m getting to sleep relatively quickly (thank the gods for the “ramp pressure” option), I’m sleeping through the entire night and best of all, my “wake up three minutes before the alarm” instinct hasn’t been compromised.

All in all, having a CPAP machine turns out not to be the massive annoyance that I thought it would be and the advantages are certainly outweighing the disadvantages… even without factoring the whole “no more heart damage” issue into the equation.

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