In Sleep Apnoea, Part One we learned that if you’re falling asleep while driving, abruptly waking during the night gasping for breath and falling asleep in front of the TV in the evening, it might be time for your wife to insist you to an ENT specialist. From there, a Sleep Unit, where you stay overnight on camera and with a blood oxygen monitor your finger, might discover you waking and going back to sleep again over one hundred times a night without releasing it. If so, you may well be suffering from sleep apnoea, a dangerous condition that can be fatal in extreme cases as the brain suffers from a lack of oxygen.
The various causes of sleep apnoea were detailed in the previous article, as was an outline of the solution: a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. The machine connects to an app such as MyAir which logs your sleep performance for your own information and also allows for monitoring by medical professionals. Obviously, CPAP, as well as connecting to hospital via an app, also has to connect to the patient via a mask!
As I live and breathe! This is my mask. It’s a nasal mask which fits over the nose held tight by those Velcro straps. The seal is made a bit like a tubeless tyre. The pressure puffs out a rubber membrane that expands and that makes the seal. If the seal is bad you will know it with hissing and a draught around your eyes.
No matter what you have driving the air pressure it’s the mask that determines success or failure. About 18 months ago I went to the sleep unit to get advice about my existing mask and they wheeled some alternative masks for me to try. It was a failure! I don’t like the new masks and almost had a fight with the nurse who was manhandling me. They didn’t understand that the mask I have used for years allows me to adjust the strap tensions in such a way that it straightens my deviated septum and allows me to breathe more easily.
The latest design are just two holes that fit under your two nostrils. They think that less is better.
So what is So Clean that Shatner advertises? It’s a box that sanitises a humidity attachment to his CPAP machine. I used to use one but it’s a pain. Here is the humidity chamber that optionally attaches to my machine
The cold air passes over water that is heated by the device. This is supposed to make the air denser and moist as some people don’t like the dry air effect. However, it encourages bacteria which you then breathe in. Hence the So Clean machine that passes ozone through the chamber, tube and mask.
I did try it once and the smell of ozone isn’t pleasant.
Up in the air
I’ve been to the States a few times over the years with the machine. “One bag only allowed on board, sir!”. “Medical equipment”. “Oh, sorry sir”.
So, I have been able to get on the plane with loads of stuff in my backpack and all sorts of extras in the CPAP bag. I noticed more and more that the airport staff recognise the CPAP bag. In the USA they do a curious thing when you pass through security to go home. They will open the CPAP machine and swab it to see if it breathed-in anything they want to question you about.
A CPAP machine is definitely life-enhancing and life-saving. No more dozing off and missing Coronation Street – which meant that I completely weaned myself off it as I had lost track of the plot.
If you suffer from snoring see if they will give you a sleep unit evaluation. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of them and the best is in Oxford. I promise you it will change your life for the better.
Who knows, it might just be a turn-on for the missus (or mister)
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file