So the CPAP machine has been helping; it helped a huge amount when I first started using it, but has seemed to be getting less effective. Over the last couple weeks the effectiveness has gone down enough that I’m starting to feel like I’m dragging the way I did before I started using it.
One thing I discovered is that now that I’ve gotten more comfortable with the masks, they don’t work as well. The nose-only mask used to work really well; I’d wake up several times a night because I’d open my mouth and the rush of air out my mouth would wake me up, but I woke up in the morning feeling fantastic. But over time I stopped waking up in the night when I wore it. Well, a date with Mare made it clear that I’ve just learned to sleep with my mouth open and all the air escaping for extended periods of time. So that’s why the mask wasn’t working as well any more. (I tried propping my chin on a pillow to keep my mouth closed, and discovered that I can open my lips while keeping my jaw closed, so the chinstrap some people use wouldn’t be a perfect solution, although it would help some. My sleep specialist tells me some people actually use tape, but, um, not my first choice.)
The full-face mask solves the mouth-breathing problem, but (1) it just doesn’t fit (it chews the bridge of my nose up and pokes into my eyes), (2) it has some stupid design features that make it uncomfortable at the pressure I use, and (3) it doesn’t seem to maintain as much pressure as the nasal mask. I think the valves and connections on it just aren’t as high-quality as on the other mask.
Anyway, I had my followup appointment with my sleep specialist on Friday, and it was very productive:
- I’m going to try a pressure of 17 (inches of water, I believe the units are) instead of the 15 she originally prescribed me. During my initial sleep study, 15 seemed to work, but I only got that high at the very end of my study and woke up shortly afterwards, so it didn’t get tested very thoroughly.
- I’m going to get somebody who’s better at it fit me for a mask. This isn’t covered by insurance, but it’s only $50, and it’s better than being turned into a mental zombie by not having the CPAP work, or having chunks torn out of my face so I look like a physical zombie. :-)
- I’m getting a referral to an ENT specialist. (I think this is a Very Good Idea.)
- I’m having another sleep study in a few months.
She also gave me some recommendations about how to get more sleep independently of the quality of my sleep, which will be useful, I think.
I should say that I’m still doing much, much better than I was before I started using the CPAP machine, but I’d like to get back to feeling as fantastic as I did for the first few weeks. And I’ve got a bunch of things to try.