Fighting the Battle to Sleep (The Results)

You know, you don’t REALLY appreciate how messed up our health care system is until you have to deal with it.

And though it’s messed up, and we have to jump through hoops in order to get things done, it’s STILL better than if we turned it over to the government to completely muck up. It’s flawed, but at least it works — sort of.

*holds up hands in surrender gesture* I’m just saying.

(If you need to catch up, you can read this post about his sleeping problems and this post about his sleep clinic experience [it’s worth a click over just to see him all hooked up with wires. It’s crazy, man]).

We finally got Kevin’s sleep study results back.

Actually, I need to be fair to the clinic. We got his results back after about a week.

His scores were off the chart.

Which, I knew they would be.

Only, his results weren’t all that typical. Yes, he has sleep apnea, but it only kicks in when he reaches REM sleep. He’s fine until he reaches that stage and then he simply stops breathing, wakes himself up, can’t make himself go right back to sleep and *BEEP BEEP BEEP* his alarm is going off and it’s time to start the day.

The sleep clinic people were supposed to wake him up and put him on a cpap machine whenever his apnea kicked in, but they never did. And we’re thinking they never had time, because by the time his apnea kicked in, he was in REM and he woke himself up too fast for them to jump in and help him.

Okay, so now what? His doctor prescribed a cpap machine to see if that would help him sleep through the night. So, we put in a request for a machine through the medical supply store and we waited to hear back from them.

And we waited.

And we waited.

Finally, Kevin had to start round one of about 100 to get the ball rolling on obtaining a cpap machine.

After playing musical phone calls, (ya’ll know what I’m talking about – the frustrating stage where they tell you they can’t help you, direct you to another person who also can’t help you and then it’s ultimately back to the doctor because did he actually PRESCRIBE the machine? And yes he did and then we’re being transferred back to the original person who now has a question on whether our insurance will cover it or not. So Kevin has to call and confirm with the insurance company TWICE that yes indeed-y they will cover it and can we have our damn machine now?), we finally get an appointment for him to come in and learn how to use the machine.

GRR. See? Utter chaos. Our health care system is messed up. It really DOES need a complete overhaul, (relax restrictions, allow interstate policies, encourage competition so we can get these insane prices down, etc.) without the government sticking it’s greedy, incompetent hands in the middle of it, thank you very much.

Sorry. Sore subject with me.

Anyway, Kevin gets an appointment and he shows up to learn how to use the machine they are going to assign him. He said there were about two or three other guys there getting their own machines, but he was the only one who had a different machine.

Naturally.

Since his apnea only kicks in when he’s in REM sleep, they needed a machine that would sense that and … do whatever it is that it needs to do to help him regulate his breathing.

He came home and tried it.

Again, he was such a good sport – he allowed me to take his picture when he got all hooked up.

Sleep Mask
(Love you sweetie!)

It looks terribly uncomfortable, but he insists that it’s actually not too bad.

In essence, it’s a mask-like contraption that goes into each nostril and pumps moisturized air (from distilled water) into his lungs. The machine is supposed to sense, and adjust, to his breathing whenever he goes into apnea.

The first night he tried it, it fell off and he woke up at 3:00, as usual. The next night, it stayed on, but he still woke up at 3:00 (WTH?), but he said he went right back to sleep (as opposed to just lying there for an hour or so). So, he’s thinking he woke up from habit and not from his apnea.

He says it’s really weird, there is so much air being pumped into his lungs that it’s hard for him to exhale, so we’re thinking the setting is too high (we can’t adjust the setting, it has to be done by the medical supply people).

In fact, he can open his mouth and feel the air coming out. Instead of snoring, he now makes this little baby-like raspberry sound. (It’s actually pretty funny!)

He hasn’t been too impressed with it at this point, but it’s still early and he’s still getting used to it, so we’ll see. He did try to loosen it a bit the other night and he said that seemed to help him to not feel quite so overwhelmed, but overall, it doesn’t seem to be helping him that much.

He’s still waking up. But he’s waking up with clear sinus passages and he says he can actually smell things again.

In fact, the thing that seems to help him the most is taking Tylenol PM. And I’m assuming that’s because it has pseudoephedrine in it and forces his sinuses to open up so he can breathe.

I don’t know. The machine is supposed to be keeping track of his progress, so when he goes back in a few weeks, they can either adjust the settings or suggest something else.

It’s disappointing, to say the least. We really had high hopes that this machine would be the answer to his sleep problems. And though it’s certainly helped and it’s nice to know, for sure, what the problem is, it’s still maddening that he’s still not getting a decent night’s sleep.

Poor guy. He’s so tired (pun intended) of being a walking zombie all the time.

The sleep battles aren’t quite over yet.

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3 Replies to “Fighting the Battle to Sleep (The Results)”

  1. Hello Karen, Nice article on the sleep apnea problem that plagues several million people in this world. I couldn’t believe the total number of people that suffer from sleep apnea, several million according to the statistics I read at the doctors office. I remember your last peace about sleep apnea and the fact that Kevin your husband suffers from it also. I, myself, just recently had the test also. When I first saw the picture of Kevin I couldn’t help but laugh because now I know what I looked like.

    But let me tell you, it takes a while to get used to the machine and when your hubby finally gets used to it he’ll love it and so will you. It will finally get him sleeping without waking up and he’ll feel like a new man. Really, you’ll even notice his attitude will be much better, not that it isn’t now, but the machine just makes you feel so much better. Good Luck and tell Kevin just hang in there, sleep problems will soon be over.

  2. Don’t give up yet on the machine. My husband has been thru this. He started off with the same contraption that you have pictured. It didn’t work. We went thru several masks and several heated rounds with the CPAP company (not the insurance for once), until he got the gel mask. He got a small one and a large one. Both work fine for him. The only problem he has is getting the mask too tight or strapping it on at times. Usually his sleeping pill is kicking in about that time and it’s a struggle for him. Which means I have to do it for him.

    He sleeps so much better and feels better. Rarely does he wake up now.

    My complaint with the masks is the cold air that blows out of the top. I might as well sleep with a ski mask on head to keep from freezing. Still the machine has been a godsend for him. I suggest you checking into the gel masks for your husband. They are a bit flexible and more comfortable than what you are using. I even tried it out ( plain curiousity on my part). Not bad at all.

    Good Luck!

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