The following is a guest post...
Odds are if you are reading this you have dealt with, or are currently dealing with the reality of adapting to sleeping with a CPAP machine. Those of us who have been down this path know this is no easy task.
Everyone needs to sleep, and a CPAP machine offers those of us who suffer from sleep apnea a real chance at a restful night of sleep. In some cases it will be for the first time in our lives. That is, if we can overcome the hurdle that is learning to sleep with a CPAP machine.
Even if you’re not a picky sleeper, getting used to having something strapped to your face that blows air up your nose can be difficult. Then you may have to deal with humidifier issues, straps digging into your face, poorly fitting or poorly sized CPAP masks, movement restricted by breathing tubes, masks getting dislodged by pillows, and so on. For some, it may seem impossible to get used to, and you may feel like giving up. If that is the case I strongly suggest you keep trying. The payoff is well worth the journey there. The experience of finally finding that restful night of sleep is so rewarding that it makes all the trouble worthwhile.
In my own case I found that this trouble was pretty easily avoided by realizing that not all CPAP equipment works for all sleep apnea sufferers. Everyone’s situation is unique, and what works for one person might not work for another. I have allergies, so I often have a “stuffy” nose, making the nasal mask I was given a nightly fight against the feeling of not being able to breathe well. Some nights were tolerable, while other nights I couldn’t even stand to wear it. I was also given a chin strap to wear in order to keep my mouth closed, which, as you can imagine, is not a very comfortable item. I would wake up breathing from my mouth so much I would have to really tighten that chin strap in order to keep my mouth from falling open, so much so that I would wake up with a dent in the skin on the crown of my head. For the longest time I actually had no idea that they made full face masks or other types of equipment, because I was given very few options in the beginning by the company I was dealing with. I had no idea there were even other types of CPAP machines, such automatic machines. I didn’t know that nasal stuffiness from “allergies” is often a hallmark of a lack of humidification, or the important role that proper filtration can play in preventing symptoms like this.
This is why it is so important to find a reputable Durable Medical Equipment (DME) provider to supply your equipment, whether you turn to a local business or purchase your equipment on the Web. It is best to try to find a company that specializes in sleep therapy, because they are usually going to have a much wider selection of CPAP equipment than a generic DME company that sells things like walkers and wheelchairs. Companies that specialize in sleep therapy are also much more likely to have a certified respiratory therapist on hand to help you with your mask selection and to answer any questions you may have about your equipment. Once you realize you have options, you have a lot more freedom to customize your own CPAP experience. For those of us like me who have no choice but to pay for the equipment out-of-pocket ourselves, using web-based online CPAP retailers can save you an incredible amount of your hard-earned money, and provide you with knowledgeable advice and a wide selection of products. In many cases you can even be reimbursed by your insurance company. You will find that there are a lot of internet sites that sell CPAP equipment out there on the Web. Most are really good, but be careful about some of the equipment that is sold on auction sites. You may be buying outdated or even used equipment. My advice is to try to find a reputable internet CPAP retailer that not only has good prices, but is an authorized retailer of the equipment that they sell, and is also willing to answer your phone call with a real person. Also, that person should be someone who is knowledgeable about CPAP equipment, and is willing to take the time to help you with your selection. I found the staff at www.BestCPAPprice.com to be just that; they took the time to answer my questions, and they were very helpful and honest in giving me advice on a mask solution that was right for me.
I personally chose to use a hybrid mask that covers my mouth and has self adjusting nasal pillows. I can also quickly and easily order and replace filters and mask cushions that I never received on a timely basis from my brick and mortar store. Because of this and the right choice of pillow to accommodate my mask, I now sleep like a baby every night and feel much more rested than I ever have. Instead of trying to learn to live with the equipment that was simply handed over to me, I am finally in charge of the way I sleep. Shouldn’t we all be?