As you all remember, I have had some not-so-fun nights at the Sleep Clinic trying to fix my perpetual exhaustion in time for the arrival of a certain little someone into our lives. The same sleep clinic where I was glued and taped and masked within an inch of my life and then asked (HA!) to go to sleep.
My doctor at the sleep clinic decided to prescribe me a CPaP machine to help alleviate my sleep apnea and help me get a decent night’s sleep for the first time in, what, 40 years. So last Friday, I went in to a medical supplier specializing in sleep and oxygen products, to be fitted with a CPaP machine.
The deal is, after they fit you and explain how it all works and how to clean it and stuff, you take it home for a free trial for a month. If you like it and if it works for you, after that month you can keep it, to the tune of about $1800 (most of that covered by provincial health coverage and our medical insurance, thankfully).
I got fitted and kitted out by a lovely young person named Ashli, who explained that it might be tough for the first little while, but that the trick was to Just. Keep. Trying. She said just try and go a little bit more each night, and eventually I’d know the difference between a good night’s sleep and a bad one.
I nodded and took it all in, but I really had no idea.
So armed with my shiny new machine, I came home. I dutifully followed the instructions, hooked everything up, and put my mask on the first night to get ready to bed.
I admit, I was nervous.
It’s a lot different, sleeping in your own bed, as compared to sleeping in the clinic. No wires, for one thing. No extra-hot room, nobody watching you on camera, no microphone recording every snort and snuff. Your own bed. So that was nice.
But still — the frigging MASK.
How does one get used to this THING on one’s FACE?
You can’t yawn, or the air pressure forces your mouth open like some wind tunnel, and your ears pop. You can’t scratch your nose or sneeze or have a drink. It’s not the most comfortable thing in the world to sleep in. And if you move even slightly, and your mask is not fit JUST SO, you get geysers of air blowing into your eyeballs or in your ear or whatever.
It takes some getting used to.
That first night, I went to bed around midnight, and woke up every hour until about 4. I’d wake up, find something had shifted or was wrong, and sit up and take the mask off and put it back on again properly. So at 4 am, I finally got frustrated and took the damn thing off.
The next night it was the same thing.
Plus, there was the added bonus of waking up with a headache and dry mouth and a nosebleed from all the air blowing on them all night. And let’s not forget, the pool of condensation that dribbles out and all over you or your sheets each time you take the mask off.
So the third night, I got wise.
Before bed, I made sure my room was warm enough to keep too much condensation from forming. I turned up the humidifier on the machine (thankfully there is one built in) and put on lip balm and had a big drink before bed.
That night was still not a restful sleep, but I managed to go a half an hour longer.
The next night, I tightened all the straps up on the mask so there was NO WAY that bastard was going to move. No air geysers to to wake ME up each time I moved. HA. I’ll show YOU, bastard mask.
That worked too. I made it from 11 to 5. Still not a restful sleep, and still waking up way too much, but I was going longer. And this morning, I made it until 6 am.
The problem is, the waking up every hour is keeping me from getting an deep, restful sleep. So it’s like having about 10 little tiny naps all night long.
My head is throbbing and I am so very tired. I am seriously sleep deprived now, to the point that I am nervous about driving to appointments this week.
I know that one of these nights, the mask won’t bother me anymore. And one of these nights, I’ll be so damn exhausted I’ll just sleep through it all. It’s just tough going until that point.
So now I understand what Ashli meant when she said “Just keep going. Keep trying.” And I understand why they offer you a month free trial.
It had better be worth it.