May 12, 2009

More information than you probably want

Lynn asked me about the type of CPAP machine I have. I have a Respironics Auto APAP with Aflex. It is fully data-capable, which means it records useful and important data while I sleep, and I can access this data myself and use it to make sure my therapy is going in the right direction. Or I'll be able to access the data again once I get my used laptop with Windows XP in the mail; the software is not Vista 64-bit compatible. Phooey.
Auto-adjusting or APAP machines are truly the jack of all trades and can change as the patient's needs change. They can be set to straight CPAP - one constant pressure. Or they can be set to CPAP with C-Flex - one constant pressure with exhalation relief. They can be set to APAP - varying pressure that responds to the needs of the patient at any given moment, with or without exhalation relief. You can get them with only compliance data (hours of use), or you can get them fully data capable.
APAPs can also be used to correct or determine the right pressure for a person, but having the data available is essential for this to work.
After getting absolutely no help with questions or information from my regular doctor and the ENT "sleep doctor" I saw for a consultation, I hit the internet and found CPAP Talk, a forum for CPAP users. It was there that I learned why a data capable machine is a beautiful and essential thing.
Ultimately, my therapy is my responsibility. I did not want to be one of those people who fails to adapt to CPAP therapy (failure rate is over 50%!). By being able to see my data, I know if my therapy is effective. It tells me if I am having apneas, or if my mask is leaking too much, or if I'm having mouth leaks where all the air is going out my mouth instead keeping my airway open, or if I'm having hypopneas (apnea wannabees). Without the data, I might think I was doing fine when in fact I'm really not. At this stage of the treatment, I'm not yet "feeling fine" as I have too many years of sleep deprivation to catch up on. If I didn't have the data to tell me I'm doing good, I might get discouraged and not keep on keeping on.
Of course, experienced hoseheads get to the point where they know if things are going okay without checking their data based on how they are feeling and functioning. But still it's nice to be able to get concrete empirical data.
A lot of the hoseheads I know over at CPAP Talk also use oximeters to check that their blood oxygen level is staying at the proper saturation. Sleep apnea tends to cause low blood oxygen levels which can cause tons of health issues (besides killing brain cells). An oximeter is a little gadget that clips on your finger and reads your blood oxygen levels - no needle is involved.
So if you've made it reading this far without your eyes glazing over, I commend you. Just remember, if you have sleep apnea, and you are not getting treatment, it WILL eventually kill you one way or another. Now on to other topics...
No, I haven't been stitching much lately. I've been on a reading jag. After I finished reading the newest Star Wars saga, I decided to go back and read all of our Star Wars books. Sometimes another galaxy is better than our own. But I'm sure I'll find my stitching mojo soon.

1 comment:

Lynn D said...

I read every word! Promise! :)

One thing that totally amazes me is how the medical folks tend to not want to explain things to us. Getting sleep apnea information has been, at least for me, more painful than giving pills to feral cats. The people at the sleep clinic act like everything is a secret.

I didn't push the apap issue since I do great on the cpap. They wouldn't, or perhaps couldn't, tell me exactly why I shouldn't have an apap.

Thanks for the post and it wasn't more than I wanted. :)