Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resolution No. 1 - Use my CPAP more often

My first and foremost goal, the primordial New Year's Resolution for me, is to wear my CPAP more often. At least six days a week. Seven if possible. That's my goal, a full seven days a week.

What the heck is a CPAP? And why would you wear one?

Well... a little background. Throughout most of my life, I've snored. Loudly. My younger brother and I shared a room for most of our childhood and he is the heaviest sleeper I know. I credit myself for that, for it was because of my loud snores that he forced himself to sleep through anything and everything. The man can sleep through earthquakes...

Anyway, I was a snorer in my teens and early 20s, but it got worse and worse as I got older. My wife was not a fan of my snoring when we first got married and as it worsened, she became a critic and then didn't want to have anything to do with my snores as they kept her up at night. I'd snore her out of sleep and she couldn't get back to bed. We found a solution - we didn't share a bed. We went through a period of about five years where we didn't sleep in the same bed. At all. For anything. During this whole time, of course, my weight was spiraling out of control.

She urged me to see a doctor about the snoring as she feared that it was not just your average run-of-the-mill snoring. Worse, I was getting tired early. And by early, I don't mean at 7 p.m. I'd be so sleepy at 9 a.m. and resorted to taking Vivarin to help me get through the morning. That was the last straw, and after months and months of pleads from my wife I sought out medical help. I saw a pulmonologist and he told me he felt I had sleep apnea. He sent me to a sleep study and I stayed the night at a clinic with wires hooked up on my face and chest and under constant supervision. The results confirmed the doctor's initial diagnosis: I had sleep apnea, but not just your regular sleep apnea, I had it bad. I had severe obstructive sleep apnea.

When you have sleep apnea, the throat closes in on itself during sleep. It blocks air flow down into the lungs and causes you to stop breathing. As I said, I had it bad. I'd stop breathing once every minute or so. When you stop breathing, you sort of wake up but you may not actually come to all your senses. Basically, sleep apnea prevents you from reaching deep sleep.

Because of my sleep apnea, I was tired and sluggish throughout the day. I had a hard time feeling rested because I never got real rest. I never got into deep sleep.

I got a CPAP machine, which is short for Continues Positive Airway Pressure. It's a bulky machine and people can poke fun at it. But I don't care what people say about it. It's helped me massively. The CPAP continuously pumps air in through the mask into your windpipe. It's not enough to make you gag or anything, not like a vacuum or anything either, but it's enough pressure to keep the airway open and allows you to A) reach deep sleep and B) stop snoring.

Now, it wasn't easy to adapt to the CPAP. The first night I was scared of it. But I got used to it, little by little. It looks uncomfortable and it can be but I learned how to sleep with it. The results were night and day. I was no longer tired. I could sleep through the night without waking up, something that hardly ever happened. I felt refreshed, renergized, renewed. I don't think without my CPAP I could have ever lost my weight; I just wouldn't have had the energy to do all the workouts.

But after losing my weight, I learned that I didn't snore any more. At all. I could leave my CPAP off and go through an entire night without snoring. No more middle-of-the-night elbows from my wife to get me to stop snoring, no more raspy snores that would wake myself up, no more restless nights.

So I strayed. I have not worn my CPAP in more than one month and probably wore it for less than 25 percent of the year, maybe on average one or two nights a week.

Not good. Not good at all.

Well, I can change all that. I can start wearing it again. I need to start wearing it again. It's a must. Sleep apnea does not go away. I've noticed too sometimes (like right now) that I get a little tired early in the day. I nap sometimes when I'm home, when I can and if I don't, the phrase "I sure could use a nap" pops into my head often.

So I will start by wearing it tonight. My wife might complain (it makes more noise now than it did when I first got it) but she needs to understand what I also need to understand - the CPAP is important. I must wear it. Every night, without fail.

Am I scared I'll fail with this resolution? Yes, I am. Very scared actually. I've gotten into a routine with it. But I must change for the better, for my sake.

1 comment:

5thsister said...

As a Respiratory Therapist who works with non compliant patients all the time, I'd like to congratulate you on this goal. Knowing you, you will master this resolution!