A while ago now, Sarah commented that one night when she's woken up in the
middle of the night, that she'd observed me stop breathing for a while in my
sleep. She wanted me to go see the sleep doctors that she'd seen (she was
diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea a couple of years ago).
So I eventually packed myself off to the Stanford
Sleep Disorders Clinic, which is at Stanford's shiny new outpatient
centre in Redwood City.
They took a look at me, and declared I had a crowded mouth, and a narrow
airway, and asked me to do a sleep study.
I did the sleep study in the middle of January. That was "interesting". I
had a ton of wires glued to me, and needless to say, I didn't sleep
particularly well, but apparently I slept enough for them to be able to
A couple of weeks later, I got a letter with the results. I had a Respiratory
Disturbance Index of 16.6. The letter from the clinic defined RDI as
including "events of 10 seconds or more with cessation of airflow or
discernable reduction in airflow associated with arousal or oxygen
desaturation of 3% or more".
I had one obstructive sleep apnea event, and 119 obstructive hypopnea events
during the sleep study. At one point my O2 saturation dropped to
89%, but it was very briefly. The overall average was 96%.
A month ago I did another sleep study, this time while I was hooked up to a
CPAP machine, and they fiddled with the pressure. I was fairly exhausted
that night, and slept like a log.
Based on the results of the second sleep study, I've been prescribed an auto
PAP machine with a pressure ranging between 13 to 15 cm of water pressure
(whatever that means).
I got the machine, a ResMed
S8 AutoSet II a week ago last Friday. It's slightly more advanced than
machine that Sarah uses, in that it'll adjust its pressure within the
range it is set to, as it deems necessary throughout the night. It also
backs off the pressure when you exhale, like Sarah's does.
I'm not particularly thrilled to be sleeping with this thing on my face. The
first night I used it, I slept fine. Something like from 10:30pm until 6am.
Subsequently, I keep waking up at precisely 3:30am for some reason, and
it's hard to get back to sleep with it on, so I take it off. A few nights,
some sort of mask leakage alarm has gone off at some random point in the
night. I haven't been in any state to try and diagnose what's going on when
that happens, so I just take off the mask and turn the whole thing off.
I was curious as to whether I'd notice some sort of life-changing difference
between using it and not using it, like Sarah does, but so far, I can't say
I've noticed any discernable difference. I also haven't gone a night without
using it yet.
Getting a properly fitting mask was a bit of a challenge. I spent ages at
the durable medical equipment supplier trying on different sorts of masks.
The one I've currently got still leaves a bit of a red mark across the
bridge of my nose. I can take it back in the first 30 days, and get
refitted, so I might still be doing that.