After my experience of wearing a CPAP machine in a sleep test, I was not looking forward to wearing it for the first time at home. During the sleep test, I felt all tied up; I could not get comfortable and did not sleep at all well. In fact, I was sure I had not slept enough for the scientists to offer a prescription for the machine. Sometime later, I found out that I had a better sleep than was the norm for these sleep tests. So, with some reservation, I began my first night with the machine.
The CPAP machine was bigger than I expected. I needed to set it up out of the way so that I would not trip over it if I rose from the bed during the night. Setting up the machine took some time. The humidifier needed to be filled with cool, boiled water and attached to the machine. Then the tubing, bringing the pressured air, had to be connected and then the face mask had to be connected to the tubing. Once this was done the machine could be switched on.
Now, I had to fit the chin strap over my head and under my chin. This keeps your mouth closed to maintain the pressure of the air going down into your lungs. Next I attached the mask and turned on the machine. A little screen lights up on the machine to indicate it has begun to work. The light on the screen soon turns off.
There is only one correct way for the mask to fit. In the dark, I could not see the marks on the mask to indicate the correct way. I tried it both ways until I felt the air pressure. Then I knew it was correctly. (The pressure builds up over a specified time determined by your sleep physician).
At one time during the night the machine became noisy as air began to escape. This simply meant the mask has slipped from its correct position.
In the early days of using it, the area where the face mask sits can get itchy. My face did get itchy. However, there is a cream which I used that alleviated that problem.
During the night the chin strap slipped up over the mouth. So, when I awoke I pushed it back under my chin where it should always sit.
Most people will go to the toilet during the night as I did that first night. So I had to be careful not to get tangled up with the tubing which is well over one metre in length. What I did was to lay the tubing over my pillow away from the floor near where I got into bed.
I found myself burping a lot more than normal. As well, I woke up with a sickly feeling in my stomach. My mouth was dry, this first time. These are quite normal reactions and will disappear over time I was told. The sick feeling in the stomach may be relieved with charcoal tablets.
The end result of my first night was an A + from the sleep physician. I had the best part of eight hours of sleep. Even though I was up and down a number of times during the night, the time spent on the machine was well above the norm. Each time I returned to sleep, quickly. Appropriately, in the first months of the machine's use, the sleep physicians are happy with four hours a night on the machine. The most important result was that my wife had a great sleep.
I had a great start to my journey with the CPAP machine. However, three months into using the machine I am experiencing up and downs with its use. That, too, is normal.