Posts filed under ‘Sleep Apnea’

Cuddling and the CPAP

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.

CPAP Mask
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.

June 3, 2009 at 11:11 pm 18 comments

Sleep Study

I’ve heard reports that I stop breathing in my sleep. Although, I don’t notice any side effects and seem to have plenty of energy when it’s time to hike (I can’t always claim the same enthusiasm for meetings), I decided it was best to have it checked out. Last Friday, I reported for a sleep study at the Omega Sleep Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. I wasn’t allowed to bring my laptop, but I was able to take my camera!

When I travel, one of the first questions I ask about accommodations is, “Do they have wireless [internet]?” It was even a question I asked about the boat for the Virgin Islands trip. I spend a solid portion of my life avoiding wires.

And suddenly, on Friday, a very different experience. I was covered in wires! I had two sensors for each eye to document eye movement. I had a number of electrodes on my scalp for EEG readings. Four sensors on my legs to see if I have restless leg syndrome. Two sensors on my jaw to see if I grind my teeth. Straps on my torso to record chest and stomach movement. A position monitor so they could be alerted if I turn over. A clip on one my fingers to keep track of my pulse. I had a snore mic taped to my neck and tubes up my noise to record airflow.

Sleep Study - Pending Wires
Wires Before

Sleep Study - Me Wired Up!
Wires After – Click on Picture to Read Flickr Notes

All of those wires were consolidated in one place. It was a Me Hub!

Sleep Study - Me Hub
Me Hub!

A few days earlier, as I sat on the back porch filling out paperwork, nine year old Tyrek asked me a question, “What happens if you can’t fall asleep?”

Huh. He had a good question. I grew slightly concerned the pressure to fall asleep would keep me awake. Those worries were for naught. I had a nice quiet evening in my fleece pajama bottoms and my toe socks reading Nalini Nadkarni’s Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees. Very, very relaxing. At eleven the sleep technician came by to turn off the lights in my room. She reported that within five minutes, I was asleep.

I did have another concern that Tyrek didn’t think about. What if I did this sleep study and this was not one of the nights I stopped breathing? What then? Do I have to pay for additional studies until it happens? That was also turned out to be an ungrounded worry. The sleep technician told me I went promptly into apnea.

When she woke me to tell me the news, I was relieved.

Sleep Technician: Victoria, I need to wake you because you have had multiple apnea episodes.

Vicky: Really?!? Oh, good!!!

In retrospect, perhaps I should not have sounded so delighted. : )

Sleep Study - Event
The Blue Indicates an Apnea Episode

At that point the technician armed me with more accessories. I got hooked up to a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine to keep my airway open. I went back to sleep and I’m told I breathed normally the rest of the night.

My doctors will be reviewing all the data and I’m sure I’ll hear more in the coming weeks. Till then, the sleep study was a pretty neat experience… and I appreciated the excuse to spend the evening laying around in toe socks reading about trees. 🙂

More pictures of my Sleep Study can be found on my Flickr site.

March 17, 2009 at 5:30 am 4 comments


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