December 11th, 2006

Misc: brain side view on black

Medical update

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.

Me: freshly shaved at butterfly exhibit

Super-quick summary of recent events

I haven’t been very good about journalling lately. I’m still here; I’ve just been busy. Recent events:
  • Went with cathijosephine to bearsir’s excellent and well-attended reading at desiringsubject’s house from Bear’s recent book Butch is a Noun.
  • Went to DC for a con. Had transportation hell on the way there. Had a good time, although being so late started me off a bit on the wrong foot.
  • Had a fab dinner with cathijosephine at our favourite Irish pub. (Light on the Guinness — we shared one — and heavy on the Meat. Oh, addendum to my previous medical post: It turns out I have mild anemia. Meeting with my PCP tomorrow to talk about that. Nice to have confirmation for my intuitive sense that I’m an obligate carnivore.) Then stopped in at darxus’ place and hung out for a while, so I got to see both of them before their OMFG! TRIP TO INDIA!
  • Had a lovely date with plumtreeblossom, in which she introduced me to Gargoyle’s, an upscale restaurant in Davis Square, and we pronounced it good.
  • Had the followup with my sleep specialist, described elsewhere
  • I’d been feeding and looking in on cathijosephine’s cat Chickenfinger (who formerly lived with the most awesome xmelancholia and treasonx). Well, a day or so after cathijosephine and darxus left for India, signs went up in her building saying that plumbers were going to be traipsing through everybody’s apartments looking for plumbing problems, because evidently the building’s water usage recently tripled. Chickenfinger is both skittish and fascinated by the World Outside under the best of circumstances; I did not trust the management company or the plumbers to be sufficiently cautious with her, so I brought her over to my place. It’s great having her here, although my nose and eyes definitely notice that there’s cat dander in the house. Well, they notice when I spend long enough petting her on my lap, anyway. :-)
  • Had another fab date with plumtreeblossom, during which we had dinner with a couple nice people I know (one of whom I know from college and hadn’t seen in about a decade), went to a delightful party with a bunch of awesome people (and yummy munchies), snuggled up in bed with Chickenfinger, and went to the local hole-in-the-wall diner (Sam’s Restaurant, on School Street) for perfect comfort-food brunch.
  • Did a bit more unpacking. Yes, I’ve been living in this house for a year and I’m nowhere near unpacked. At this rate I have to live to 100, beacause I won’t be done unpacking before then.
That’s about what I can remember. Wow, even in bullet points it’s long. That’ll teach me to update more often. :-)

Oh, one PS I don’t think I’ve mentioned: I shaved off my beard in hopes of a better fit for the full-face CPAP mask. Doesn’t seem to have made any difference, but it’s a little less work to maintain than the goatee, so I’m probably going to keep it that way for a while. I am, however, growing my hair out, so this userpic doesn’t look much like me.