What They Didn’t Tell Me About Using a CPAP Machine

Today marks two months of using my CPAP machine to treat obstructive sleep apnea.

When I got my machine, I read some of the info and tutorials on the website. They listed some of the benefits people might experience:

If you have a good mask seal and have been using your therapy equipment consistently, you should be feeling the benefits. By starting and sticking with therapy for your sleep apnea, you could be on the way to better sleep and better relationships. You may also find you feel more energized, which can help with motivation to start exercising……….

Other benefits of sleep apnea therapy can include reducing morning headaches, forgetfulness, poor concentration and tiredness.

I noticed some differences right away, and continued to see improvements over the next couple months. Here is what they didn’t tell me – how all these improvements would impact my life.

They didn’t tell me how treating my sleep apnea would help my family, too.

You know that feeling you get when you have chores to do, and it is late at night and you are tired, so you tell yourself “fuck it; I’ll leave it for tomorrow / leave it for my spouse?”

Well, I used to feel like that all the time, it turns out. Now that I no longer feel like that all the time, I am noticing just how much I used to feel like that, and didn’t realize it wasn’t normal. I always noticed that other people seemed to be more productive than I was, and I thought I was just inherently lazy or unmotivated.

Now, it turns out that I am feeling like that less than I used to. I’m getting more done, which takes some of the pressure off my husband and makes our house feel more calm.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect. If I stay up binge watching shows on Netflix, I do feel it the next day. But I feel it FAR less severely than I used to.

They didn’t tell me that treating my sleep apnea would improve my focus, stamina and productivity at work.

I’m now able to focus for longer periods of time again. Before I started treatment, I did have poor concentration at work, but I thought it was only because I had a small child at home. Now, I notice more focus, even at the end of the day, and more motivation to cross more items off my to-do list instead of leaving them for the next day. Just like at home, there is less of a sense of “fuck it, I’ll just leave it for tomorrow.”

They didn’t tell me that treating my sleep apnea would make me a better parent.

I have more stamina and mental energy to engage with my kid. I can get through the day without feeling like I need a nap, which is great, because my kid has pretty much dropped his.

I used to need to sit on the couch and rest more often during the day. Now, it is less often. Recently my mom came to visit, and commented on how I did a LOT more in a day than when she used to come visit before.

They didn’t tell me that it would improve my recovery from exercise.

Isn’t it interesting how they say, “you may also find you feel more energized, which can help with motivation to START exercising?” I find it to be an interesting assumption that the typical sleep apnea patient is not yet exercising. It may be true; I’m not sure. In my own case though, I had already been doing movement that I really enjoy….I just didn’t seem to be able to tolerate much intensity or load. It took my muscles a LONG time to recover.

Now, I am still exercising, and my muscles recover a lot more quickly, which leaves me with energy to do other things, too. Now, exercise doesn’t have to push other things out of my life.  I don’t have to choose between exercising and getting everything else done.

They didn’t tell me how different I would look.

I know that looks don’t affect function, but I sure am enjoying when people tell me how rested and refreshed I look.

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Here I am after doing two loads of dishes and some laundry this morning!

Happy two month-iversary to me and Sam, my CPAP machine!

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New Habits, and Several Updates!

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted. (I’ve been more active on my Facebook page, so if you missed me, you can follow me there as well.)

New Habits (Movement and Productivity)

I’ve added some new habits to my routine that I haven’t actually added to my spreadsheet:

  • When I drive somewhere, parking at the far end of the parking lot, as long as the weather is good. This helps me get more movement into my day without having to think about it.
  • On work days, eating my lunch somewhere other than at my desk, whether it is outside, in my car, or even at the conference table – what matters is that I am walking away from my laptop screen. I have been having trouble focusing at work, and that is getting much better with my sleep apnea being treated. However, I also find that if I don’t take an actual break, I have more trouble focusing later in the day. So, I am consciously taking a break at lunch time, so my mind doesn’t force me to take breaks later in the day.
  • I have begun leaving my lunchbox in my car on workdays, instead of bringing it to my desk in the morning. That helps with a few things: 1. It forces me to get up and walk to the car when it is time for lunch, which helps me remember to take the aforementioned break. 2. It prevents mindless eating in the afternoon. When I didn’t take my break away from my desk, my mind would wander, and sometimes I would grab a snack to procrastinate. Now, if I want my food, I actually have to get up and go get it. and 3. It puts a little more movement into my day, even if I don’t have time for formal “exercise” on a workday.
  • Putting my phone away in a drawer while I’m at work. I didn’t realize how easy it was to check the phone to procrastinate when I needed a break. I don’t feel comfortable leaving the phone in the car, in case my son’s babysitter or my coworkers need to reach me. But I turn the volume up so I can hear it if it rings, and tuck it away so I have to consciously take it out if I need it (instead of mindlessly picking it up off my desk).

I didn’t add those habits to my spreadsheet as something to track; I just changed my routine up. Since it feels pretty painless, I don’t feel the need to track them at this time.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Update

Everything has been going really well. The CPAP machine has added at least a decade back onto my life. It has reduced my breathing events by over 99 percent. Some things I have noticed: I am able to focus more clearly at work. I feel more ready to engage with people. I sometimes sleep all the way through the night now. My husband says I no longer snore. Plus all the stuff I listed before.

I am also noticing a huge difference in what I can do at home now. I am doing things that my husband always had to do in the past. I cleaned out our car (voluntarily), and cleaned up after the weekly cooking (voluntarily).  I won’t say I am able to clean up every day, but even being able to do it some days is a huge improvement for me. I feel very pleased that I am able to do more to contribute to our household now.

I finally had my first appointment with a sleep specialist and I am happy to report that I had a positive experience, as a fat person. The only time she mentioned my weight was to ask “how has your weight been,” while she was asking the typical medical history and symptom questions. She did not lecture me. She seemed pleased about my habits. When I asked her if sleep apnea could cause weight gain, she said yes, and explained about leptin, and said that untreated sleep apnea could make weight loss difficult.

And then she looked in my mouth and told me that the size of my tongue was almost certainly the reason for my sleep apnea. So, that was positive! And it means that my suspicion that I have had this for many years and at many different weights is likely correct.

Movement Update

Lifting has been going well. The simplified program I started in January is still working well for me. It fits well into my life and I am making progress, feeling good, and recovering well.

Meal Prep Update

We are still in what feels like a pretty sustainable groove with meal preparation. I did spend more money eating out than I would have liked, last month. But I also had days where I felt tempted to eat take out, and I packed a meal or cooked a meal at home instead. So there is definitely improvement. Patience is my friend.

That’s all I have to report today! More posts in the queue soon….

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Still Getting Better!

I had a great week. Everything keeps getting better. Last week I wrote some posts about how CPAP therapy is going for me. You can read them here, and here.

My kid had an ear infection this week, so he woke us up a lot at night for a few days, and I felt tired. But the amazing thing is, my mood was still good.  Even after 4 nights of interrupted sleep. In the months before I got my CPAP, if my kid had a bad night, my mood was terrible the next day. I found dealing with people to be too overwhelming. I felt irritable. I don’t drink coffee regularly, but I would go get coffee on those days. It didn’t help much. So, it was a big deal that this week we had four nights of interrupted sleep, and my mood was good even though I was tired.

In fact, I even did some housework after that fourth day! My kid was taking a nap, and a friend called. While I was chatting with her, I noticed that I had energy and didn’t want to sit still. So I got down on the floor and began stretching. Then I was done, and looking for something else to do. So I started cleaning off my bathroom countertop. Then the floor around the toilet. Then the baseboard. Then the sink. Then a couple spots on the walls, and the mirror. Then  dusted the bookshelf in my room, and in kiddo’s room. Then I took the trash cans out to the curb. Then I changed the cat litter. And all this was on a day I had already lifted in the morning, and after 4 days of sick-kiddo-interrupted sleep.

This was more housework than I would get done in a month or two, before. Before, I never had any motivation to do housework. The thought of it always seemed overwhelming.  I felt self conscious, thinking that everyone thought I was lazy, but I still couldn’t get myself to do it.  And I never would have done it on the same day I lifted weights. I always needed a lot of rest and recovery time afterwards. Essentially, I had to choose between lifting and housework. I always chose lifting, because it was more fun and it gave me lots of benefits, such as normalizing my blood sugar and just feeling better. It is amazing to me that now I can do BOTH sometimes.

My complexion is also improving. The photo on the left was taken a couple weeks before I started CPAP. The photo on the right was taken 12 days after I started CPAP. Look how my skin and eyes have brightened up!
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I still haven’t been able to take a nap with the machine on. I tried for the second time this week and couldn’t fall asleep. However, laying in a dark room breathing deeply for 30 minutes was refreshing enough in and of itself.

On the training front, I finished my second Wendler 5 3 1 cycle of the year. The new minimalist lifting schedule is working out great. I still feel strong, and I still have enough energy to handle my other shit. So I will be keeping that up.  Unfortunately I caught my kid’s bug, so I will be waiting a few days to start the third cycle.

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Two Amazing Things – Improvements on CPAP Therapy

I’ve been on CPAP therapy a little over a week now.  I’ve noticed two really great things happening.

Thing One

Yesterday I was ecstatic that  I was able to jump and run during kiddos’s gymnastics warm ups. The kids were playing tag and one of them tagged me and my first reaction was to join in (instead of “sorry, my legs are still tired from deadlifts.”). In the past, my muscles never recovered quickly enough from lifting for me to do things like run and jump.

And later in the day, when I was holding his hand in the library parking lot, and he yelled “1,2,3, RUN!”….and my leg muscles feel fresh enough that running was reasonable, so we ran….that was amazing and made me very thankful for oxygen.

We ran back to the car too.

Thing Two

The weirdest/coolest/most unexpected thing that has happened in my first week on CPAP – my milk supply has gone back up. For months now it was pretty low (which didn’t concern me as my kid only nurses at bedtime now and eats more food than some adults). I only heard occasional swallows. But a few days ago, I started hearing lots of swallowing in succession, or even gulps!

It’s crazy and amazing what enough oxygen will do!