You've now joined a club with an impressive membership ... but as we can't see inside other people's bedrooms, we don't exactly know how many of us there are in it!
I have had my CPAP for three weeks now and mostly it has been difficult. I began with a nasal mask and was having such enormous difficulty with filling up with air (with the resulting unpleasant side effects next day) that I went back to the Sleep Unit and they adjusted the breathing out pressure (so I could breathe out all the air - I think it is a time thing) and gave me a full face mask.
It DOES take time to adjust to CPAP both physically and psychologically. Three weeks is a great beginning, and well done. It's really important to celebrate all victories in life however small. They are still VICTORIES and WELL DONE YOU. We all have problems with that breathed-in air ... and it usually has to go out of the body at the opposite end to which it entered, so please don't feel freaky or embarrassed; it's just a question of what goes in must come out. And it happens to EVERYONE everyday whether or not they are using a CPAP!! (We're just a wee bit more switched on to the air intake business than most!) I'm glad that using the flex system helped with the pressure.
I find I can use one of the masks for a couple of nights and then find it doesn't seal properly and go back to the other. Full nights on either mask are infrequent at present, mostly I tear it off around 3 am. I feel a right twit and have therefore found the blog extremely validating as obviously this is not an exact science and not easy to cope with. I must ask about nasal pillows, I have quite a small face and nose and leaks are the bane of my CPAP life, my darling husband is happy to lie and let me wear the WW1 gas mask, but even he draws the line at the piercing squeals from the leaks, nasal pillows might work better.
It does take time to adjust to the feeling of a mask on your face. Try lying down and THEN tightening up the mask. The mask should not be rigid against your face, even if you are afraid that it might move and leak if it's not fixed tightly. The seal works like the skirt on a hovercraft in that it is intended to move a bit against your face as you move. You are NOT a right twit for taking your mask off in the night. You are just like nearly everyone who's started CPAP therapy! The body needs to get used to the idea of something being in close contact with it all night. And you are asleep when you take it off, so there's not much chance of your learning to stop doing so by simple willpower! It's a question becoming accustomed! You might like to try to wear it during the day whilst watching the TV for example to help you acclimatise. Slowly and steadily will have the desired effect. And ANY hours on CPAP asleep are better than none.
Underlying all of this I think, is my horror/fear/disbelief that I will have to use this thing for the rest of my life. I like being spontaneous and find anything that I will always HAVE to do, to be anathema! In the documents it always refers to "your treatment", I believe treatment is something that has a finite life, I will one day be treated i.e. cured?? Does anyone else know about this lifetime nonsense?
Now this is probably the most important part of your post, and I appreciate your courage and honesty in owning up to being horrified about the 'for life' aspect. You have suddenly come up against a totally unexpected lifestyle modification, which you certainly were not expecting and which you honestly have no control over. Frustrating, sinister and very scarey. And that's the truth.
And sadly, it's not nonsense about needing to manage sleep apnoea for life. Note that you cannot CURE sleep apnoea, but you can manage it effectively so that the alarmingly high risks of untreated sleep apnoea (strokes and heart attacks because the body needs oxygen that you aren't able to take in in your regular, unassisted breathing) drop back almost immediately to normal once you become compliant on CPAP treatment, which means that you are far less likely to suffer a serious if not fatal medical incident in your sleep than anyone else. So firstly, CPAP therapy is healthy, not only because it makes it far less likely that you'll have one of these serious health conditions, but also because you will get a better quality of sleep - not waking up many times in the hour - and this will mean that you are in better health and more energetic the next day.
And as for 'lifetime', well I can thoroughly understand how frightening this must seem. But, when used correctly, your CPAP will give you a longer and better quality of life so that's more than your average bod can expect.
Your partner will love you because your snoring is no longer affecting his or her life and sleep!
And it WILL become second nature, once you accept that you are not to blame for this condition, or that there was something that you should have done to stop this from happening to you. It's unfortunate, but is totally beyond your control
. The good thing is that it can be actively managed
to keep you well and healthy. And you are certainly not alone. There are loads of us about, but you can't know because you can't see into our bedrooms at night!!
It IS a lifetime commitment, but so are bloodthinning tablets for a haemophiliac or insulin for a diabetic. These folk didn't bring their medical conditions on them, neither did you with your OSA; but, like those using CPAP therapy, they have a full and healthy life ahead of them if they keep following their treatment programme and stay in contact with their docs. Medicine and medical practices are all progressing and equipment is becoming smaller, more comfortable and more sophisticated all the time.
We all want to believe that we are in control of our bodies and minds. Sometimes it's just not the case. As regards OSA, there is NO CURE for this condition - even surgery ... because the soft palate regrows after several years and you need to be operated on again ... - but it can be MANAGED successfully for sufferers to live full, happy and unrestricted lives .... travelling abroad for business and holidays, quicker and safer recovery after anaesthetics in hospitals or at the dentist's, happy and satisfying intimacy with their sexual partners, and a full lifespan ............. all of this is NORMAL and what CPAP users can expect when using their equipment every night.
Please don't get downhearted. We are here to help and support and encourage. It would be good to hear from you again.