We turned the Cpap machine back in to the Durable Equipment Company yesterday. I struggled for 6 weeks, trying to adjust to different masks, but I never could find anything that worked properly on my face, with my Acne Rosacea skin problems, and giving me the ability to sleep on my side comfortably.
So, I saw the Sleep Disorder doctor yesterday, and he agreed that I was just not a good candidate for the Cpap option for controlling my mild Apnea. He agreed that I probably needed to control the apnea I have, even though it’s mild, because I still have insomnia, and it’s affecting my thinking skills and leaving me exhausted every day. If it weren’t for the Parkinson’s, I don’t think he would have ever put me on a machine to begin with, as I have an apnea score of 10. That’s probably as low as it goes, from what I understand. That means 10 episodes of apnea an hour. But if I were to get a full night’s sleep, that means as many as 80 times a night I would momentarily stop breathing. My brain can’t afford that amount of disruption, as part of it is already working on 20% efficiency – the part that makes dopamine.
So, we’ve moved on to another possibility, and that’s to get an oral dental appliance. I’ve been doing the research online, and this looks like a good alternative for me. I won’t have deal with skin irritation, as there is no headgear, and since it doesn’t depend on any kind of forced air, there won’t be any leaks. It still means getting used to something foreign, in this case a mouthpiece specially molded to my teeth by the dentist. This contraption is designed to pull my bottom jaw forward as I sleep, much like the way a medic does when they give CPR. That opens the airway, and should prevent the apnea. The tension on the jaw is done gradually, so the body has time to adjust, at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work.
I have an appointment today with my own dentist, to see if he could do the work or not. His office said he could, but I’m not so sure about that. This sounds awfully specialized to me. But I trust him to tell me if he can or can’t do it. If he can’t, the Sleep Disorder doctor will send me to an oral surgeon to get one. I will need to have another sleep study after I’ve been on the appliance long enough to pull my jaw forward, but that’s no big deal.
The other area of concern is that this is probably not going to be covered by my insurance, the way the cpap was. I will be talking to them today, to see if that can be worked out. I did find a very detailed explanation of what needed to be done to get an insurance company to accept the procedure as insurable. I’ll be using what I learned there to help me fight for coverage, if necessary.
I am very thankful that we are financially able to consider something like this, insured or not. I read what had to be done to get Medicare to pay for an oral dental appliance, and it involved paying for before and after sleep studies, plus paying for the mouthpiece itself, and then trying to get Medicare to reimburse. That’s an awfully expensive proposition. At least my insurance will pay for the Sleep Studies, if nothing else.
The biggest drawback, at this point in time, is that there is no guarantee that I can adjust to the feel of this thing in my mouth, any better than I did the cpap mask on my face. And this can’t be turned back in for a refund, the way the cpap machine could. We did get stuck with the mask part, though. We’re stuck with the expense of the dental appliance, like it or not. It’s not like you could turn THAT back in for a refund! LOL
DH and I feel like it’s a reasonable use of our money, though, so that’s not going to stop me from trying this procedure. I’m not a quitter, and I intend to keep trying, until we find some way to improve the quality of my life.