It’s been a few weeks of adjusting to sleeping with the CPAP mask for my sleep apnea. I’m not gonna lie. It has not been easy. I was really hoping that after a few nights of using it, I was going to feel super energetic, chipper (“genki” in Japanese) and awesome. But no. The issue is that even though I am breathing better, with fewer episodes of non-breathing, I am sleeping much more fitfully than before.
Before this diagnosis, I was sleeping straight through, long nights, but breathing terribly (which I was never really aware of). NOW, I wake up many times during the night. And I’ve got this THING on my face. Which I do not enjoy. Well, to be honest, sometimes the thing ends up on the floor. The second night I wore it, I apparently fought with it in my sleep and I woke up to find it in multiple pieces on the floor next to my bed. (not broken, just completely disassembled!)
I took it with me on vacation. One night, I woke up and I was just so dang uncomfortable. I hated the feeling of this rubber triangle covering my nose, and straps around my head. But I thought, just hang in there. I lay there being hyper-aware of every breath and every little indentation into my skin. I was awake for hours.
But the frustrating thing was, I didn’t NEED to wear it for hours while I was awake. The thing with sleep apnea is, it only happens when you’re ASLEEP. So basically I was lying there feeling tortured, for nothing. After several hours of this I was beside myself, so I ripped it off. Then I promptly rolled over and fell dead asleep. Of course.
When I woke up, hours later, I realized that I had spent half the night awake, (with the mask on my face) and then the early morning hours asleep, without the mask. I broke into hysterical sobs. I had been trying SO hard to be compliant, to do the right thing, and ended up doing exactly the wrong thing.
I’ve had better nights since then. I’ve made it sometimes six or seven hours. When I wear the mask, I’ve had fewer than one “breath interruption” per hour, in contrast to the 37+ I was having PER HOUR before. (!!) So that’s good.
But I’m sort of heartbroken. I feel like this beautiful relationship I used to have with sleep, and my bed, has been shattered. I used to love going to bed, and love sleeping. I was in love with sleep, and I felt so lucky to not have it be a fraught kind of thing. But now it is fraught. It is super-fraught. I dread going to bed. I dread that moment of putting the mask on my head, and trying to find a comfortable position that will allow me to sleep without letting air hiss and leak all over. I’ve found that it’s much easier to deal with if I go to bed when I’m really, really, really tired. (so I don’t have much consciousness or energy to fight it) Which means I’m going to bed super late. And waking up much later than before.
Overall, I admit I’m getting more used to it. I signed up with the website that manufactures my particular CPAP machine and it has all kinds of helpful tips and videos. One woman who appears in several videos said that it took her 3 months to adjust to her machine. Three months!! That was a bit of shock, but it also encouraged me to not expect it to be all good right away.
One of the most moving parts of the website was a video about “Getting Used to Treatment.” It featured a Woman of a Certain Age who was worried about her relationship with her husband. She was bummed about wearing a mask every night. She was wearing flannel PJs (like me) and kind of looked like a sad elephant. But her extremely kind looking husband leaned over and tweaked her trunk-tube a little, and just looked at her in this extremely loving way (as opposed to, You look like a TOTAL FREAK) and then she felt better and was able to deal with it. My eyes actually filled up when I saw this because this is just how Mr. McBody has been dealing. He’s been very reassuring and supportive and kind. And that is why we are now going on our 28th year together. He’s just like that.
I hope that by the time I get to my 3-month mark, this will just be an automatic thing, no big deal. And that I’ll fall in love with falling asleep again.