Cuddling and the CPAP

June 3, 2009 at 11:11 pm 18 comments

In March, I posted about my sleep study at the Omega Sleep Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. They were able to confirm what I heard from a college roommate nearly 15 years ago. I stop breathing when I sleep. I have moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

To combat that, I now have my very own Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine! It uses air pressure to keep my breathing passages open. With open passages, I don’t stop breathing and if I don’t stop breathing, I sleep peacefully through the night.

But there is a downside. In order to take advantage of that pressurized air, I have to wear a mask at night. A mask that is attached to a hose which is turn attached to the machine. My mobility is hindered…and I’m not exactly good looking.

Hubba hubba. I’m Open for Business

There are a number of simple pleasures in my life right now, I am very blessed. But there was one pleasure that seemed in jeopardy and I was not ready to part with it. That would be cuddling. How could you cuddle when you are attached to tubing?!? Furthermore, who would want to cuddle with Darth Vader?

Untreated sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems. It can cause memory problems and mood swings and weight gain. Sleep apnea is definitely not good for one’s health.

BUT… this is cuddling! Comfort, connection, peacefulness, happiness and warmth. Was I just to give all that up?

I had to reflect. What was more important– cuddling… or my health? I found it to be a very tough call.

CPAP Decision Time
Tough Call

But guess what! Cuddling and the CPAP machine are not mutually exclusive! The tubing is quite long. The machine is quieter than expected. And it turns out there are so many wonderful ways to cuddle with your face exposed, as demonstrated by Creative Commons Cats and Dogs.

Photo by sskennel

Photo by tin_woodsman

Photo by Malingering

Photo by TCM Hitchhiker

As I finish this post, it becomes bedtime. I’m going to brush my teeth and wash my face and retire to the bedroom. I’ll use my cell phone’s light to navigate quietly and will cringe when I accidentally trigger the voice activated dialing. I’ll get growled at when I move the beagle out of the way. I’ll lay down, give my companion one kiss on the forehead and put on my mask. He’ll roll over and put his arm around me.

That’s how I’ll sleep– in the arms of a man I couldn’t love more. And I’ll breath the whole night.

Sometimes you can have it all.


Entry filed under: CPAP, Sleep Apnea, Sleep Study.

Relay for Life 2009 Weekly Winners – May 31 – June 6, 2009 – Mount Rogers

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ken Knott  |  June 4, 2009 at 12:20 am

    I’m with ya… Cuddling can be accomplished.. Just be glad you’re not a mouth breather like me and you don’t need that full mouth and nose mask. That sucker can be seriously annoying.

    I’m finally getting used to all of it myself after a few months… A good night sleep is a wonderful thing…


  • 2. Kristina Rosenbaum  |  June 4, 2009 at 12:50 am

    I think you’re hawt, in a vaguely Borg-meets-Cousteauish sort of way. 🙂 Would you believe me if I said the mask brings out the gorgeousness that is your eyes?

    I feel you, though. As of tomorrow, I have to start wearing a mouthguard when I sleep. I’ve slept with FSM only knows how many people, and apparently none of them could tell me that I grind my teeth in my sleep. Viciously. Bad enough that at 32, I’ve broken every molar in my jaw save two. Cuddling won’t be a problem for me, thankfully, but I do hope my husband remembers it’s in before he kisses me or I may end up with broken front teeth.

    Maybe we should pose for some sort of fetish calendar: Girlz of Awkward Headgear.

  • 3. chriggy  |  June 4, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Oh oh, I feel another flickr group starting. 🙂

  • 4. gasstationdave  |  June 4, 2009 at 5:15 am

    [another] wonderful post here Vicky.
    your disposition is what really makes you the most cuddle-able, entirely irrespective of your seemingly darth vader-esque nightly appearance! i often wore an aspirator while working on Katrina cleanup crews in New Orleans, LA and thought to myself, “I’m bound to get more chicks with this thing on because I look so very… well, VADER!” Cuddling is good, Health is good, Blessings abound, and you’re right, sometimes you can have it all! Fine job Vicky!

  • 5. CarolynCASL  |  June 4, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Those are some cute animal-cuddling pictures.

    Glad you got that sleep apnea thing diagnosed.

    • 6. Clint  |  June 4, 2009 at 8:39 am

      Yah. That stuff can kill you.

  • 7. Dave  |  June 5, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I first read it as “Cuddling and the CRAP machine are not mutually exclusive!”

  • 8. Pablo  |  June 5, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    After 10 years with a CPAP I can tell you that a good night’s sleep is worth plenty!!!

  • 9. geekhiker  |  June 7, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I’ve lived without it for thirty-five years. I think you’ll be okay.

    Is the mask a temporary thing, or will your body learn to change its behavior over time?

  • 10. Cathy  |  June 19, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    My hubby has a CPAP. I have a cat who used to sleep with us before we got the CPAP. We booted her out, but scratches our door (carpet underneath, actually) when she wants food at 6 a.m.

  • 11. jim  |  June 29, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Great insight to the realities of cpap! It is worth it in the end! Sounds like your doing well. My cat sleeps right next to me with the cpap machine on. Occasionally he will tear a hole in my tubing. I just got one of those tubing socks to prevent that. Good Luck

  • 12. Greg  |  June 24, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I am on CPAP and have been for 5-6 years! At 60 yo I still love backpacking the Appalachian Trail. As part of my job I travel some. I can not carry my CPAP, so I want to get an “oral-device” to use on an occasional & limited schedule

    • 13. portable cpap machines  |  April 11, 2011 at 8:48 pm

      Hi Greg, there is a portable CPAP.. You can use it when you are in travel…It gives you less hassles…:).Nice trip..

  • 14. Mason Miske  |  November 3, 2012 at 12:31 am

    if you have a serious problem getting some sleep, CPAP masks can really help…

    Most up-to-date posting on our personal homepage

  • 15. Laurie  |  June 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    I have the opposite problem. My husband is the one with the CPAP and no longer cuddles me. It has totally changed the dynamic of our marriage. It is very lonely. I can cuddle him but I miss him cuddling me. Any ideas? I’m desperate.

  • 16. Ben  |  April 16, 2021 at 12:52 am

    I have to wear that horrid mask and seeing I’m not in a relationship this will impact my dating life greatly. Also I feel that women find it more difficult to accept from their men, it is not very manly. Anyway you’re lucky to be in a meaningful relationship, I feel it is even harder on singles.

  • 17. Ben *Dutch made*  |  May 31, 2021 at 7:27 am

    I recently found out I have servers obstructive sleep apnea, when I was told I had to wear that mask the rest of my life I cried for 2 whole days and I’m a 6’4 ex cop and marine. It is just so horrible and not sexy. Like you said darth vader. I think men would accept it easier from a girl than vice versa. I’m also not in a lasting commuted relationship, I used to date a lot, so that will also change.kudos to how you approach our fate. I get my cpap in the coming weeks, can’t wait…

    • 18. tgaw  |  May 31, 2021 at 1:40 pm

      Hi Ben. I’m so sorry to hear you are struggling with the news.

      There are other unsavory moments associated with sleep– flatulence, gaping mouths, drool, snoring, rapid eye movements, mouth guards, etc. One can argue that none of us are at “peak sexiness” when we sleep. 🙂

      Luckily, there are plenty of waking hours to show potential mates what we have to offer. I hope you will find women are more accepting than you expect. I hope all works out for you.


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