Following my wife’s take-home sleep study, we were presented with the option of using CPAP by her sleep physician. She had no idea at the time what that would mean, but once she heard about wearing the mask and having to be connected to a machine at night, a few misgivings quickly rose to the surface.
“How can I sleep with a mask on?”
“My sisters are going to laugh at me…”
“That doesn’t sound comfortable!”
…You get the idea. We got the machine, set it up, and went through the teething pains. I’m a bit of a night owl so I got to observe first-hand how she was reacting to it. There was much tossing and turning for the first few nights. She had a few incidences of dry mouth so we ended up having to experiment with the humidifier settings. She even pulled off the mask a few times without realising it! She also had a lot of air leaking around her nasal pillows so we had to size up (twice) to get that sorted out.
With everything that was happening, we were a bit lost sometimes as to what to do. After some trial and error involving differently sized nasal pillows, chinstraps, humidity settings, and discussions with the physician, we arrived at a suitable configuration that had her sleeping like a baby.?The entire process took around 6 weeks, but we had some small successes along the way that kept us going. I couldn’t remember my wife being so active and upbeat, and I’ve known her for almost 13 years (for which we’ve been married for 7)!
Some of you out there may also be starting your CPAP journey (or struggling with it). Sometimes a little guidance is all that’s needed to know what to expect and how to troubleshoot your issues. I can guarantee that if my wife and I had had the benefit of such guidance, we would perhaps have had a more comfortable time at the outset. It is therefore my pleasure to introduce you to one such guide in the form of the book Totally CPAP: A Sleep Physician’s Guide To Restoring Your Sleep and Reclaiming Your Life. This recently released piece of work is written by Dr Steven Park, a board-certified otolaryngologist and sleep physician. He is also the author of another best seller — Sleep, Interrupted: A Physician Reveals The #1 Reason Why We?re So Sick And Tired. You can find him either on his website DoctorStevenPark.com, or by checking out his podcast: Breathe Better, Sleep Better, Live Better (which I highly recommend you listen to).
Who Should Read This?
The target audience for this book is those who either have, or are looking to secure, a CPAP for use in treating sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome (which is treated much the same way, though it manifests somewhat differently). I would go as far as saying that caregivers would also benefit from reading this book since it improves their capacity to assist their charges in handling CPAP issues.
What’s Totally CPAP All About?
As the title says, this is a complete guide and reference for CPAP users. It presents the rationale for CPAP usage, alongside the common challenges in a very human and relatable way. It also follows up with proven fixes for each problem (many of which may not be well-known) and further recommendations for continuous improvement. Compliance matters, particularly those related to insurance, are given a lot of focus, which helps to clear the air regarding coverage. All of that is packed into a 155-page text, complete with patient stories, etc. It’s a great read with very good pacing, and a notable lack of complicated jargon.
In terms of what you can expect from the content, this mini- tome is divided into three (3) major sections:
Section 1: Everything You Wanted To Know About CPAP
This segment is primarily introductory and seeks to build an understanding of CPAP as a treatment methodology. It is written from the standpoint of the new initiate to the use of PAP devices, and assumes that fundamentals must be first be introduced. Each CPAP component is discussed, with special attention paid to the mask interface since that has the potentially greatest impact on one?s inclination to adhere to treatment. More experienced users can skip this section, but it’s still a good refresher in the event that something was missed the first time around. Chapter 3 which deals with insurance matters is of utmost importance since it speaks to the terms and conditionalities surrounding compliance with treatment schedules…along with coverage implications for non-conformance.
Section II: Mindset and CPAP Troubleshooting
What I love about this section is the fact that it encourages an active experimentation on the part of the patient, and sets the doctor as a consultant, rather than a director, of one?s own personal health and well-being. Troubleshooting steps are provided in wrapping up this section and there?s an entire chapter dedicated to Dr park?s favourite area: dealing with nasal congestion and stuffiness which may interfere with CPAP use. I?d also encourage you to check out his free ebook ?Unstuff Your Stuffy Nose? on his website for more information. Long and short though, the section makes it fairly obvious that understanding your machine?s settings in terms of pressure, humidity, portability options etc can only benefit YOU.
Section III: CPAP Success and Beyond
Dr Park provides a 7-step guide for CPAP success which neatly integrates with everything mentioned up to this point. He continues to advocate for personal responsibility for one?s own care, pointing to different communities and applications that can help analyse and interpret sleep reports from CPAP machines. He includes a great list of said resources at the end of the final chapter.
Why Getting This Book Is Totally Worth It
Circumspectly, this book represents over 15 years of Dr Park?s hands-on experience and knowledge of the sleep apnea/UARS treatment domain. It is a highly focused venture, with very little flab in its makeup. I found the book to be perfect for the layman who wants to develop a better understanding of sleep apnea/UARS, their effects and their treatment options. Having been in a position before of not really knowing how to help my wife with her initial CPAP challenges, I can certainly appreciate the thought and dedication that clearly went into Dr Park?s work.
My only gripe was pretty minor?not enough illustrations. I would perhaps have been a bit more helpful to include a few diagrams to make the content more engaging, or to lend focus to specific troubleshooting processes. Despite this, the fact that Dr Park included patient stories was enough for me to enjoy my read. Having validation of his recommendations in the form of patient success lent credibility to the value of the book in a way that a few diagrams would not have.
I recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone starting out with CPAP treatment, be you a patient or caregiver. Having a roadmap to follow is always better than having to figure out things on your own. If you?d like to check this out, please feel free to hop over to Amazon! Happy reading and happy sleeping.
If you found this helpful, or if you’d like to spread the word, I’d appreciate either a comment below or a social share! Take care.