Package excitement: oh how things have changed

March 30, 2016

There was a time when getting a package in the mail was an exciting thing. It still is. But in2016-03-30 12.35.09 a very different way.

As a kid, a package was a birthday gift from a far away relative. In college it was brownies and cookies from my aunt. As Amazon and other online retailers came on the scene not long after I left college, a package meant a book, an electronic gadget, or some other purchase I made for myself. I’m a bit embarrassed by how I wasted my money, but some of these purchases were really useful. Regardless, when I saw a box with my name on it, it was exciting!

I was thinking about this earlier this week when I opened a box and felt a different kind of excitement. It’s here! Finally! This box didn’t contain a book, an electronic gizmo, or new shoes. It wasn’t fun or exotic. It was….

New medical supplies!

An ASV is like a CPAP machine – it helps me breath while I sleep. )It’s used for an unusual form of sleep apnea called central complex sleep apnea.) Every few months insurance will cover a new set of supplies – a new tube and new mask. Right before I become eligible for replacements, I can feel the current ones losing effectiveness. So I was super excited for my new supplies. It meant breathing at night would be even better, and when I breath better at night, everything in my body feels better the next day!

Part of this change, of course, has to do with money, or lack thereof. I’m simply not buying stuff online as much. Part of it is age. Relatives don’t send gifts anymore. If they want to give a gift, they give a check. Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate checks. But they aren’t fun like gifts are. They aren’t surprising. (Then again, I also don’t get stuck with things I don’t like.) But part of it is my health. My healthy friends don’t get medical supplies in the mail. And most people who get medical supplies probably aren’t excited by them. But I’m excited by anything that makes me feel better.

And if that small improvement in health comes in a box in the mail, then you can be damn sure I’m going to be super excited!

What about you? Can you relate? How do you feel about getting new medical supplies? Please share in the comments!


Sometimes health giveth, and sometimes health taketh away

July 26, 2014

My CPAP machine broke. It’s not the worst thing that has ever happened to me health-wise, not the worst by far, but it sucks.

For a long time, probably years, I had undiagnosed and untreated UARS. It’s a form of sleep apnea. And it sucks. Oh wait, did I say that already? Oops. Anyway, when I started using a CPAP machine several months ago, I noticed a difference very 2014-04-23 11.03.16quickly. Within a week I had more energy. Over time I found I was sleeping deeper and feeling better. I was even breathing better during the day!

That why I was so disappointed when my CPAP wasn’t working as well last month. I thought I needed a new mask (I probably did – they only last about 3 months.) Thanks to insurance issues, it took a while to get a new mask, but by then, the machine didn’t seem to be working well at all. The company that provides the CPAP said they’d reset the settings. Problem solved! Or so I thought. Basically, the damn thing seems to be broken.

The CPAP is under warranty, so I’ll get a new one on Monday. I have an appointment. But in the meantime, I’m a wreck. After the first few nights of poor sleep I was definitely more tired than usual, but I was still functioning fairly well. Then last night it hit me. I’m completely fatigued. It’s hard to breath. My throat hurts. Sitting up to read takes too much energy, and typing this is a Herculean effort. As soon as I hit publish, I’ll need to lay down. I feel like I’m coming down with the flu, but I know I’m not. I know I’m not because I used to feel this way when I slept especially badly in the pre-CPAP days.

Thankfully, I don’t have anything too big happening in the next few days. I had to cancel some plans today. Friends have graciously agreed to come to my apartment tonight so I don’t have to go out. I’d hate to miss out on tomorrow’s activities, but if I do, it’s not the worst thing. I just hope I’m well enough to drive to get the new machine on Monday!

And I’m thankful for my health insurance.

Let’s face it, health insurance in this country sucks. Today is a great reminder of how bad my health was before, and how bad it would be without the CPAP. Without insurance, I would never have been diagnosed with UARS, and I certainly wouldn’t be paying for the CPAP machine. Without insurance, my condition would just continue to deteriorate. I won’t even think about what would happen with all the rest of my health conditions. I’ve ranted about the politics around health insurance before (just check out the politics category if you’re interested) so I won’t do that right here, but for those of us fortunate enough to have at least some semblance of healthcare coverage, let’s remember how lucky we are. Let’s hope we remain so fortunate. And let’s pressure our politicians to make sure others can receive care as well. Because no one should feel so horrible when there’s a perfectly good treatment available.


You might have data on your side, but I know my body

July 22, 2014

I mentioned the other day that I’ve been having some sleep issues. And I’m certain the problem is my CPAP machine.

What I didn’t explain is that I emailed my doctor about a it a couple weeks ago. He was on vacation. So I emailed him again when he returned. His vacation was extended. So I tried again after the extension was supposed to end. In the meantime, I 2014-04-23 11.03.16worked on getting a new mask and tube to replace the old, worn out mask and tube from my CPAP. When that didn’t fix the problem, I emailed my contact, C, at the company that provides my CPAP machine. He was out of town and said he’d check my data on Monday. Thanks to modern technology, both my doctor and the CPAP company get all sorts of information transmitted wirelessly about my breathing and machine usage each night. It’s pretty awesome.

Monday came and went and I didn’t hear back. So I emailed C again. Then today I emailed him again. Finally, he wrote back. He attached a sheet full of charts and graphs of my data. He explained that everything seemed to be functioning just fine, but that if the problem continues, the machine is under warranty and can be exchanged.

Now, I fully admit that I can’t understand most of the data. I don’t know what the abbreviations mean, what “normal” ranges are, or anything else about it. But I know how I feel. And I didn’t feel that the machine was functioning properly. Either the machine was malfunctioning or my breathing was broken. But I could feel that it was the machine.

So I told him so.

I wrote a respectful email saying that I don’t know how to interpret the data, but I know something is wrong, and it’s creating enough of a problem for me that I don’t want to wait to address is. I asked how we should proceed. And I hit send.

You see, there was a time when I would have followed C’s suggestion of giving it more time. But now I know better. Now I know how many times a medical provider has told me that I wasn’t interpreting my body correctly, and weeks, months, years, or a decade later I would find out that I’d been right all along. I refuse to let that happen again. So I pushed.

A moment after I hit send on that email (the world is full of odd coincidences) I got an email from my doctor. Finally. And it started with this line: “The data seems to mirror your description.” He went on to explain the problems he saw in the data. I immediately copied his message and emailed it to C at the CPAP company. My doctor had said that his office would contact the company, but it was already after 5pm and I wasn’t about to waste another minute!

C wrote back immediately: “Dr T certainly knows his stuff.” That was his way of admitting his error. The doctor was right. He said that he would make the change right away, but that it might take up to 24 hours to take effect. So I don’t know if it will work tonight, but I know I’ll sleep well knowing that I listened to my body and stood up for myself despite pages of data that said (by one interpretation) that I was wrong. I’ll sleep well knowing that I didn’t question for a second how I feel. Sometimes pushing for what I feel is right is so damn hard, but if I can get someone to listen, then it’s always worth it. Because in the end, I don’t care about the numbers. I care about how I feel. And if I feel that something is wrong, then it is.


Caught in a negative sleep loop

July 20, 2014

It’s no secret that I have sleep issues. I’ve had sleep issues for as long as I can remember. My mother says that as a toddler, I didn’t nap. I remember pretending to nap in preschool so the teachers wouldn’t get mad at me for being awake. I would lay there quietly, feeling restless and bored. Things didn’t get better as I got older. My point is, sleep problems aren’t new to me. But they’re still a pain in the ass.

I got diagnosed with a form of sleep apnea earlier this year. Using a cpap machine has made a huge difference. Or at least, it 2014-04-23 11.03.16did. My problem is that the mask needs to be replaced every 3 months, and I noticed a huge difference in my sleep about 2 weeks before that 3 month time was up. But when I reached the 3-week point, I had some insurance issues, so the company wouldn’t give me a new mask. I get it from their point of view – they had no one to bill but me, and I wasn’t jumping to pay $400. Still, this was a real problem. I waited anxiously for Medicare to come through, or for Medicaid to be more solid, or something. Then, finally, I got the insurance issues temporarily settled and I got my new mask a few days ago. Relief was in sight!

But it didn’t work. It got worse. Sleeping with the cpap right now is only marginally better than sleeping with out it, and sometimes it’s worse. My adrenal insomnia has returned. When it started last year, I had no idea what was happening. I’d be sleeping normally, then wake up around 3 or 4am, and it would take 1-2 hours to get back to sleep. I finally found other people mentioning it in some of the thyroid and adrenal online groups. It has to do with a change in cortisol levels around that time. It was making all of my sleep and energy problems worse. It didn’t happen every night, but I didn’t know which would be the nights it would hit me. I was so glad when they disappeared completely with the arrival of the CPAP machine. I was sleeping through the night again!

And now it’s back.

Twice in the last three nights I had that adrenal insomnia. Twice I found myself awake at 4am. Twice I have woken up feeling like a zombie. And the night in between I slept straight through for 10.5 hours and woke up feeling unrested. Not exactly an improvement.

I would love to go to a picnic this afternoon, but I wonder if I should just stay home and rest. Some friends invited me to watch an outdoor movie with them, but I’m thinking I might be better off having a quiet night at home. Then again, since I seem to be caught in this miserable loop, maybe I should just go out anyway, because chances are, no matter what I do, I won’t be sleeping well tonight.

[Note: I have messages waiting for both the CPAP supplier and my sleep doctor, so I’m hoping that one or both of them can help me figure out what’s going on. But today is Sunday, so I won’t be seeing any improvement tonight, unfortunately.]


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