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EducationOpinion

Iron Maidens and Other Reasons for CPAP

By October 20, 2017 No Comments

Nobody grows up masterminding ways to look like Darth Vader when they go to bed. Except for maybe kids. My seven-year-old crashes in the Sith Lord’s helmet every other night. It’s a substitute pillow to him. But kids are different. They’re still impressionable. Trying to figure out who they are. What they like. Why all this hair’s growing all over me? But adults are more stringent. We want comfortable things to help us sleep. And CPAP patients are no different. We crave the same kind of rest too. We’re freaking mammals after all. It’s innate from birth. Why else did we sleep so much as babies? Our brains process the day’s events there and keep us sane. So who in the world wants to have an Iron Maiden strapped to their head to sleep? About half the sleep apnea patients in the world. That’s who. CPAPpers don’t show up to a doctor’s office and suggest: “You know what? I think I want to sleep with a bucket on my head. The old ball and chain wants me to look like I’m bobbing for apples all night long. Got anything close to that?”

CPAP patients desire comfortable sleep. For decades now, CPAP masks have been notorious for anything except that. Before, when we didn’t know what awe-inspiring rest was like until CPAP, we didn’t care. But now that we do, we keep our eyes peeled for something better. That’s why I created Bleep – DreamPort. I wanted more comfort, but with zero leaks. Something that had no headgear and didn’t rip up my face. The alternative wasn’t possible; I couldn’t go back to not using CPAP. That wasn’t an option. It’s not an option for anyone else either. It goes against why we started CPAP in the first place. And we all have our stories.

I’ve told hundreds of people what led me to CPAP. You see, I wasn’t a patient to start. No doctor figured out I had it. For that matter, I didn’t even need therapy. Let me explain. I had been working in the hospital at the time for three years, and an older gentleman came in for a sleep study one night. Slender guy, mid 60’s, a buck-fifty soaking wet. Looked nothing like a sleep apnea patient. Chart said high blood pressure. That’s it. His side profile suggested a little retrognathia, meaning his jaw recessed too far back into his face. Your typical weak chin. He looked pretty sprite, except for the massive bags under his eyes. Those were death warmed over. I got him checked in, hooked up and to bed pretty early. Ten minutes after sleep, he hit his first REM period and did a swan dive on O2 sats. Oxygen levels tanked to the mid-40% range. One of the worst patients I’ve ever seen. And remember, he was a small guy. Twenty pounds lighter than me at the time. Anyway, I put CPAP on him because he met emergency SPLIT protocol and it took about 2 hours for him to get back to sleep. On CPAP, his sleep was downright excellent for approximately 1.5 hours. Then he woke up and had to pee. Once back in bed, another hour to get back to sleep, again on CPAP. This followed with another hour of great sleep and stable oxygen levels. Guy’s fixed for sure, no doubt about it. He woke up again and had one more pee break and groaned getting back in bed when I put the CPAP back on. “This thing’s not comfortable, and I’m not sleeping.” Nothing new there. That’s the typical response a patient gives us, right? He finally got back to sleep again for thirty to forty minutes and woke up with a headache. The first thing he said when I came in to unhook him was, “No way in hell I’m wearing that thing.” I shared with him it’ll get better, give it a chance. You slept great when you were asleep! And he did. He walked out, and I thought that was the end of that.

Turned out a month later in peer review the doctor shared with me he had a stroke. Pretty bad one, too. Couple weeks after that, he was back again. Only this time, his wife was pushing him in a wheelchair. She looked long and hard at me, then him and declared, “He’s going to wear CPAP now. Aren’t you?” With drool on his chin from the sagging side of his face, he mumbled a deflated, “I don’t have a choice. She tells me I can’t die.” Finally, he had his reason for wearing CPAP. That day spewed up some facts for me. We are fragile beings. Illness is apart of life. We either get ready to do some CPAPing or get prepared to do some dying because sleep apnea kills. It got me thinking about my family too. My grandfather barreled down the train tracks every night. Overweight, he snored like a bear. My dad turned out having sleep apnea the year before. Mom suffered a stroke when I was in high school. Shortly after that, my girlfriend’s mother died of a heart attack. That case scared me into starting CPAP. My family showed a history. And, if we learn anything from history, it’s that it repeats itself. But we all have our reasons. I’d tell you though; it has kept me healthy and helped me sleep like a rock. Matter of fact, I sleep terribly without it. I feel myself waking up with snore arousals. Now, I wear it for comfort…the comfort it brings my life. And having been wearing the DreamPort, it’s even better. As I said, you can have your cake and eat it too.

If you love your CPAP unit, but think the mask is uncomfortable, contact us at Bleep. We may be able to help put the comfort back in your therapy and give you a reason to resume it. We are the creators of Bleep – DreamPort Sleep Solution, an alternative to traditional CPAP masks. Visit us at bleepsleep.com and check out our Crowdfund initiative. We Give a Bleep About Sleep.