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First Night With an AutoPAP Machine for Apnea

Alien Face-suckerThe age of AutoPAP is here. They concluded from my sleep study at the hospital that I have a mild case of both obstructive and central apnea (7 and 4 episodes, respectively) and enough desaturation events to warrant an equipment therapy.

Enter the Philips Respironics System One AutoPAP machine: a heated, humidified, auto-adjusting variable pressure CPAP. CPAP is a misnomer, since nothing about it is constant outside of its pattern while I’m not in need of assistance. It has a range of 4-20 cm of water, but we have it set at 4 cm for inhalation and it steps down to 1 cm as I exhale so it’s more comfortable. The pressure adjusts when it senses an apnea event occurs, both the exhale and inhale pressures.

My initial impressions

I was taken aback at its size when the tech came to demo it. Many bread loaves are larger, and 1/2 of it can detach so you can leave the humidifier at home if traveling and can tolerate cold, dry air. The controls are as simple as they get and even include an auto-on and auto-off if you’re too brain damaged before or after sleeping to push a single button to control its power.

As for the mask, I fully expected it to be like a medieval torture device. I got a full-face mask that covers my nose and mouth, cupping just under the tip of my chin. That alleviated my concern about my stuffy nose that I have now. I was pretty annoyed at the tubing in my nose for my sleep study, so I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t care for air going into my nose regardless of how much of a nose-breather I am. Having the air come at you one way or another was actually a nice solution… even if it does look like I’ve got one of those larvae from “Aliens” clasped to my face.

First night in the bag

I got to bed at my usual time, after falling asleep downstairs watching more of this year’s Alice in Wonderland on Netflix. I got the mask on just fine and got into bed and turned it on. It was, as I’d expected, distracting. I did my normal thing after a while and slipped into sleep relatively quickly despite the change. I woke up about 5 times during the night, which is about 5 times more than normal, but it was more of an alert rolling over or a quick adjustment of the mask because it was causing a breeze on my cheek or chin. Beautiful’s very quiet alarm even woke me up, though my kick to her heel did nothing to stir her, so I decided to stop stirring at that point and fell asleep again.

This morning, Beautiful said she was pretty sure it got louder around 3am, which is about the time my other studies showed issues starting, so I think it ramped up the pressure and kept my oxygen levels up. I think it’s pretty quiet, but I am also distracted by the feel/sound of the mask activity rather than being isolated enough to only hear the machine. I think white noise is a good description, but only time will tell if it affects Sleeping Beauty. Have I mentioned how beautiful she is before?

I read that it can take 2-4 weeks or longer to notice any effects, but since the device starts out as a rental that insurance subsidizes 80% of the payments, we aren’t out a big co-pay if it doesn’t do anything for me and my headaches remain. Even if I sleep better and wake up more refreshed, I guess we’ll keep it. It feels really weird having a typically “old man” device as I enter my 3rd year in my 3rd decade of life, but it seems that many old age things start to happen earlier to us. I am definitely not alone in this CF journey or even this new development that seems to be quite common with CFers in their 30s and 40s. It was just my time.


  1. J always complains about not feeling rested even after hours of sleep. He is also quite narcoleptic too. He can sit down on the couch and within second be asleep, even when not tired. I’m sure a sleep study will be in our future. I like the picture you used…

    • Those symptoms are me to a T. Get it checked out, especially if he’s fallen
      asleep at lights driving home. Most of those symptoms have disappeared since
      working at home, but I did fall asleep with company here a couple of weeks

  2. Sounds like you’re off to a pretty good start with the new gizmo. I really like the picture. Are you suscribed to a service to get them?

  3. Kristi Bowers says

    The pic on your blog today is hilarious and quite fitting!

  4. Man, you’re really getting old!! 🙂 I think you’ll end up loving it as you’ll start to feel refreshed every morning and like you actually slept throughout the night…it does take some getting used to though. I only have a cannula on and that took awhile to get adjusted to.