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A reader writes: 

I suffer from sleep apnea so badly that I have episodes of suffocation that wake me up. I have come close to bursting my heart (or at least if felt that way) with the adrenaline rush my body shoots out to make me breathe. I've had my CPAP machine now for over ten years and take it with me everywhere. I am afraid even to nap without it.

Me too. It broke last night. Aaron had to sleep on the floor in the blog-cave. At 6 am, I fixed it with some scotch tape. Aaron slept through the morning. Another:

I know you mentioned how your Aaron first noticed your apnea, but I really can't stress how disturbing an untreated sleep apnea is to a person sleeping next to you. 

My last partner had a bad apnea and did not like the way the CPAP machine felt either. When his breathing would stop, I would find myself unconciously sympathetically holding my breath.  When it seemed to get excessive, I would jar the bed with my body to knock him back into breathing.  And this happened with such frequency it was difficult for me to tune it out enough to fall asleep.

Another:

I just want to thank you for being brave enough to go on national television and show off your CPAP mask. I received my machine last year and have been transformed by the results.  No longer am I fighting the urge to nod off at my desk or on the train. I have also discovered that 8 hours of sleep, not 10, is in fact more than enough to survive the day. My only worry has been what people would think if I wore the mask on an overnight flight or what if a future lover might think if I put it on before I go to sleep. It don't think it lends itself well to snuggling or spooning. Now that you have gone onto CNN and showed the world how ridiculous the CPAP mask looks, maybe it's time for me to embrace the mask.

Another:

Thanks to your column, I had myself tested for sleep apnea and it was off the charts. My jaw is very thin, and following a car accident in which I broke my neck and had to take morphine (which makes me sleep harder), I was in the midst of a perfect storm of terrible apnea.

Luckily I live in France, where terrible socialized medicine hooked me up with a machine for free and a technician comes every three months to check on things. I had a hard time getting used to it, but now, after a few minutes, I sleep like a baby. (I do terribly miss smelling my girlfriend sleeping next to me during the night though. That's a big loss.)

Anyway, thanks for turning me on to the thing. My doctors say you may have saved my life (I already had one heart attack, at forty).

Another:

When I hooked up with my partner, I felt so sorry for him that he couldn't get a good night's sleep.  With no desire to be connected to a machine, I decided to have the surgery I describe to this day as "The All-American."

Not only did I have my deviated septum corrected, but I also had a tonsillectomy and had my uvula cut out.  All at the same time.  (There was one other procedure they did, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was.)  After my throat healed, I had an interesting outpatient procedure wherein my uvula was "touched up" with a laser.  It was an interesting experience to actually smell the scent of my own burning flesh.

Fortunately, I had excellent insurance at the time and it didn't cost me a penny. I also got to live on liquid vicodin for over a month.  I still remember weakly begging my partner to "bring me my syyyyruuuup."  The only drawback: since the surgery I have been unable to carry a tune.  So, karaoke is no longer possible, although I never was a Julie Andrews to begin with, so it's no big loss on my part.

P.S.  Best sports bears: Franco Harris and Scott Neidermayer, no doubt.  George Best looks creepily like Charles Manson.  Surprised they didn't mention Rick Sutcliffe.

Another:

One trick that has worked well during my allergy season has been the use of a neti pot.  I was skeptical, but to my surprise it helped a lot.

Another:

My snoring and apnea symptoms went away when I quit eating wheat (so did my seasonal allergies).  What has returned is my sense of smell, which had been on hiatus for about 20 years.  I'm not one of those militant or trendy anti-gluten goofballs, but I have found the response of my own body to going wheat free nothing short of amazing.

Another:

I've been on the hose for 12 years and couldn't imagine an hour with out it.  Had a septoplasty about three years ago and had complications that kept me from wearing the mask for seven days, which were the most miserable days of my life, without a doubt.

I posted your CPAP post here on the cpaptalk forum.  You might find this place interesting.

(Photo by Flickrite Geof F. Morris)

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