Saturday, June 05, 2010

Zen And The Art Of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

First night with the Respironics (a Philips company) CPAP machine was not so successful. I thought it would be a good idea to put some ear-plugs in to mask the noise of the pump.


All I could hear all night, all I listened to, was my breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Thus saith Guru Bob: Listen to your breathing, my pupils. Concentrate on each breath. Let everything else fall from your mind...

Very Zen. Very Transcendental. Very fucking annoying.

You know how they say you don't notice your rhythmical and regular breathing pattern until you start thinking about out it? That's my story for the ENTIRE night. At least I think it was. It's also difficult to be sure you're not asleep, as you might only be dreaming that you are awake. Or a butterfly.

I do remember having an apnoeic episode that woke me up - see, I must have been asleep. I was dreaming that I was lying under the low branches of bush/tree in my mother's back-yard, in my cave, protected, hiding away, (a Freudian return to the uterus fantasy? [Shit must call my mum, haven't spoken to her for a few weeks!]) as someone yanked me out by the leg in order to get me to breath, to break me out of this drawn-out breath-stoppage, to wake me up. I woke up.

Another thing that bugged me was that this "soft cloth" mask, The SleepWeaver, has little perforations in it to blow off the excess pressure. These pinholes shot annoying javelins of chilly air all over my face, onto my arms and shoulders. I didn't realize there were part of the construction until I read the manual this morning (!) and I was completely distracted all through the night, wondering at first if the seal was not good, but it seemed fine when I put my hands to the edges, or that the mask was faulty. I kept pinching off these jets for a few seconds until I pulled the bed-sheets over my exposed limbs.

Once or twice I opened my mouth slightly and the compressed air in my naso-pharynx sharply charged out like the scorching fire from a dragon on the attack. That was a weird sensation, as my palate fell back with the release of the pressure. I closed my mouth straight away and it went back to "normal" quickly. This was all done in a semi-real state of semi-consciousness...

I was, I suppose, fortunate that I didn't yank the bloody SleepWeaver thing off my face in the middle of the night or do the auto-erotic asphyxiation thing with the 2m of hosing as I rolled from left to right and back again. It pulled on the soft mask when I did turn in this manner, but it when I just brought more of the hose with me it seemed OK.

Eventually, at about 6am I gave up on sleeping, turned off the pump, took off the mask and removed my ear-plugs. The whine of the air-con. The swish of the fan.

I couldn't hear myself breathe. THAT was Nirvana.


Half an hour later I decided to try sleeping once again and this time without the ear-plugs. Sure enough, with shoulders and arms protected from the air-jets, I dropped immediately into sleep (deep, shallow, REM, I don't know) for two hours.

I'm not sure that I feel rested today. Indeed, it almost feels like grandpa nap time now (4pm). It wasn't the spring out of bed, leap with fervor and enthusiasm into the tasks of a busy day (buy some socks, choose a birthday card or two) sort of instant recovery that I was given to expect by a friend in Australia.

He had had a bad run with apnoea, falling asleep at traffic lights (embarrassing if you're a pedestrian), during meetings, etc... After his first night with the CPAP, he didn't recognize the new energy that was charging through him. Completely worked for him.


Well I'm not *too* bad I guess, as I managed to stay awake on the MRT for a two stop jump down Scotts Rd. Fingers crossed for Night Two.


However I have a party to go tonight - Great Gatsby is the theme - and I might be a tad under the weather with bootleg gin when I get home. Hope I remember how to turn it on! For those interested I have a white linen suit, with waistcoat, white shoes, white hat, white socks, apricot tie. Oh and a white hat.

Something like this is the plan:

(Oh shit, he has a double-breasted vest; mine is single!)

Someting more like Sydney Greenstreet will no doubt be the result of my efforts:

Yes, mmm-mm,  well,  indeed, mmm-mm, yes, excellent... 


p.s what is the minimum angle for a hat to sit in order for it to be classified as 'rakish'?


Michael McClung said...

12 degrees.

Spike said...

That's my problem. My general routine is going to bed, putting on the mask and the machine, trying to sleep and after two hours taking off the mask, turning off the machine, falling asleep instantly - but crappy sleep. So machine + mask should = quality sleep IF I can fall asleep, which I rarely can do. And so my apnea remains an issue in my life.

expat@large said...

Spike, the only reason I've let this run forever is I am not in a relationship, so I can do what I want. It was 24 or something years ago when the wife moved to the next room on me.

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