Image by >>>WonderMike<<< via Flickr
It seems like there are so many conditions associated with fibromyalgia, but there is only one that turns me into an elephant with a 6 foot long trunk each night. I'm talking about sleep apnea and my nightly bedtime companion (besides my hubby of course): my CPAP machine. My CPAP mask, the ResMed Mirage Swift LT for Her, sort of looks like the mask WonderMike is wearing in the picture above, which connects via a 6 foot hose to my Respironics REMstar Auto M series CPAP machine. (However I, unlike WonderMike, will not be modeling it for you.)
I've been thinking about my whole sleep apnea situation more because of the pollen explosion that has gripped the nation this Spring, including right here in Los Angeles. I saw my family medicine doctor yesterday, who explained that the alternating cold-warm-cold-warm weather cycle seems to be making all the trees, plants, flowers and grasses release even more pollen than usual. This whole pollen thing got me asking for allergy medications, medications I don't usually use on a regular basis. But over the past few days my ears have been all stuffed up, which in turn makes me feel nauseous and dizzy, like I have vertigo. I can deal with the stuffy nose I often get from my CPAP, but the stuffed up ears is where I draw the line.
Yeah, using a CPAP has a whole bundle of nose, congestion and other problems. All that air getting blown up my nose all night can dry me out or get me all stuffed up, depending on the weather and the season. Using a prescription nasal spray can help with this, but I just don't like adding another medication to the mix on a regular basis. Fortunately for me, I discovered this gem of a website that provides a comprehensive list of tricks that helped me learn to adapt and make CPAP therapy work for me without additional medications: The alt.support.sleep-disorder Website CPAP Hints & Tips. Rather than repeat all that good information here, I'll let you head over to their website to take it all in.
The real bummer with all of this is that, with near 100% compliance, I still can't seem to get a good night's sleep, probably because sleep apnea isn't the only sleep disorder fibromyalgia has given me. I've talked a bit about my delayed phase sleep disorder here and even mentioned my inability to get deep, stage 4 sleep. I continue to have an overall inability to get good, restorative sleep every night. That said, it is also to the point where I can not sleep without my CPAP, despite it's awkward, elephant-like appearance and constant maintenance. I know this because my sleep is made worse on the night's I am unable to use it due to the occasional cold or sinus infection.
That said, I'm off to bed, elephant trunk and all. I feel like I should be trying to learn how to trumpet like an elephant to say goodnight to you too. Oh well, here's to sweet dreams of grasslands, blue sky, strong breezes and the warmth and safety of the herd.