• CPAP schmeepap, it’s just a fad

    by Debra DeAngelo

    CPAP shmeepap.

    I want a show of hands: Who’s had a sleep study and NOT been sentenced to a lifetime of sleeping with a breathing machine? Anyone?

    After my first sleep study, I thought I’d defied the odds, but that was because I didn’t actually fall asleep. Who could sleep while being strangled by an octopus of wires and electrodes? Not this chronic insomniac. Ergo, no sleep apnea diagnosis, and no need for a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, or CPAP.

    However, my husbie kept insisting that I stop breathing at night, and okay, I often wake myself up coughing, but that’s just from dust, and once I jolted awake gasping for air, but that was a fluke. And yeah, I snore a wee bit, but I think I’m really just purring. And yes, I’m usually exhausted in the morning, but that’s only before the caffeine kicks in, and yes, I have blood pressure issues, but who doesn’t. And sure I have mood swings, fatigue and forgetfulness, but I can chalk all that up to menopause, and as for being cranky and short-tempered, it’s not that I’m cranky, it’s that other people are annoying.

    So, there, Doc. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it, I tell her, as she continues ordering a referral for a second sleep study. Somehow, I managed to fall asleep long enough the second time to trigger a visit to a neurologist, who confirmed that yes, my snoring is minimal.


    However, he continued, when I enter into REM sleep, I score a 37, which is apparently a lethal number indicating that sleeping is hazardous to my health and I must be hooked up to a machine every night for the rest of my life.

    Need I elaborate on the enthusiasm with which this information was greeted.

    Sleep apnea. Phooey. Big fat fad, if you ask me. It’s the new fibromyalgia. Half the people I know seem to be sleeping with a CPAP attached to their face. Once upon a time, it was just called snoring, and no one thought it was particularly deadly. My grandmother snored like a coffee grinder and she lived in relatively perfect health until 103 years of age. What do you think of THAT, NeuroDoc?

    He remained unimpressed and rattled off all the ways sleeping could kill me without a CPAP — diabetes, stroke, heart attack. Crap. He said the magic word: Stroke. My mother died of that in her 50s, and my father was disabled from one at the same age. Nonetheless, I negotiated a two-month trial period with him, because I still think this sleep apnea thing is all a scam. If I don’t feel any different after that, I’m ditching it.

    I call for an appointment to get hooked up, and imagine my surprise when I’m informed that the uninsured portion of this glorified hairdryer is a whopping $2,600. That could have triggered a stroke right there. I told the gal on the phone to just forget it. Staying alive is too expensive. I’ll just take my chances and hope I have my grandmother’s genes and not my parents’.

    But she objected and explained how number 37 is a really big, bad, hairy, scary thing, and if I don’t get the CPAP, it’ll cause fatigue, emotional stress and overall misery. Yeah? So will paying for a $2,600 hairdryer on my measly salary. It’s not do-able, I told her, and that’s that — particularly when it’s only for a two-month trial. She wasn’t giving up that easy, however, and offered to rent me a CPAP. All the money would go toward a purchase if I want one. And, she said, there are cheaper models.

    OK, fine. I’ll go along with this if only to prove that I don’t need it.

    So, I arrive for my fitting, and am offered my choice of face masks ranging from nose-only to full face. They’re all hideous. I look like Ganesh in a gas mask.

    “Don’t you have a Victoria’s Secret model?” I ask the young, pretty technician, as I imagine how fetching I’ll be, breathing like Darth Vader… “Luuuuhhhhkkke … will you have sex with meeehhhh.” There goes my sex life.

    “I don’t care which one,” I finally tell her dejectedly. “Just give me the one that gets the fewest complaints.”

    I then ask a zillion questions about how to keep the hose and mask from crawling with bacteria that I’d be inhaling straight into my sinuses, and won’t I get pneumonia from having cold mist forced into my lungs all night, and I could tell she thought my anxiety about germs and disease was almost as creepy as a woman my age caring about her sex life.


    You’ll get there too, Missy. You’ll get there too.

    When I got home I laid the breathing paraphernalia out on my bed, trying to wrap my brain around sleeping with all this gear on, because besides being a chronic insomniac and a ridiculously light sleeper who can be awaked by a falling leaf, I have huge “Princess and the Pea” issues. I can’t stand a wrinkle on the sheets or the cuff of one pajama leg being slightly higher than the other or sheets with less than an 800-thread count because they chafe my skin, I tell you, right through my PJs. This’ll never work.

    I was, however (and mark this down, it’s a first), wrong. After a week with the CPAP, I’m sleeping great — after several hours of fitful chunks of sleep until I finally snap and tear that torture device from my face and fling it to the floor, and suck in the sweet scent of fresh air through my nostrils and drift off into blissful sleep.

    CPAP shmeepap.

      • Judy N

      • March 25, 2012 at 10:08 am
      • Reply

      OK, laughed out loud, but they do have a Victoria Secret model–it’s hot pink and looks like a string bikini and it has two little plastic pillows the snuggle up against your nostrils! Trade yours in and then get matching pajamas. Or, wait til you’re ancient cuz Medicare pays for the machine.

    • I want THAT one.
      Not quite eligible for Medicare yet. But a few more weeks with this contraption, and I will feel like I’m eligible. This thing is kicking my ass.

    • So sorry to hear this. I know one person who uses it and it changed his life for the better.

      • greg T.

      • June 12, 2020 at 6:25 pm
      • Reply

      I agree with you! I think it’s a fad everybody I know has been prescribed one and now I have to o. I tried it for almost a week and I found no difference. ( Other than my nose being sore and balloonedand waking up with a dry throat) I do think it’s a scam and a moneymaker now.
      But I have to be fair, my sister was prescribed one it’s made a lot of difference in her life. Now she’s more energetic, sharper in the mind, and very noticeably so.

      • It seems to work great for some people, others – not so much. I abandoned mine and have been using a dental appliance, which is marginal, literally better than NOTHING…. but the CPAP, yeah, I just couldn’t!

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