Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Okay, where were we? Back from holiday, that's right. Back from holiday and straight in to a carer crisis. One of my long term carers suddenly started arriving late or not arriving at all. There were, of course, all sorts of reasons, some understandable and some not so. The result, anyway, was that I spent several days stuck in bed for an extra hour or so, or hanging around in the evening, ever shorter of breath, waiting for replacement carers to arrive. The situation has settled down somewhat but I'm still not sure who is going to turn up morning and night.

Further complicating the situation has been my BiPap mask problem. As mentioned last time, I appear to be leaking in deep sleep. The air pushed in to my lungs by the BiPap machine is under pressure and the mask I use is a nasal one. In other words, a mask fits to my nostrils and blasts air up them and in to the lungs, fully inflating them, and thus facilitating O2 and CO2 exchange. The system only works effectively because of the pressure. However, when I am in deep sleep, the muscles in my face relax and the pressurised air short cuts the lungs and escapes via my mouth. The BiPap machine has interpreted this as a leak in the system, it's little computerized brain assuming someone has stuck a pin in the tube or unplugged something in an attempt to assassinate me in my sleep. Although I don't actually die (you'll notice), the effect is, over the long term, a build up of CO2 and resulting headaches and mental sluggishness.

To solve this problem I have been sent, from the Royal Brompton Hospital, various alternative face masks. The first one covered both my nose and mouth, which obviously solved the mouth leaking problem, but was terribly hot and uncomfortable and turned any saliva in to dry, crispy flakes. It also leaked tiny amounts of air around the sides causing occasional high-pitched squeaking sounds. Horrible. The next mask was a full-faced one, covering eyes, nose and mouth. It looked suitable for deep-sea diving. I am not a naturally panicky person but the moment I put this mask on I felt unbearably claustrophobic. My eyes watered and my nose itched and I couldn't touch them because of this plastic casing. I managed nearly two minutes before freaking out and trying, unsuccessfully, to rip the thing from my face. Fortunately Polly came to my semi-hysterical rescue while the carers flapped ineffectually.

So, at the moment, I'm using my old mask with an alternative, non-alarming BiPap machine. Unfortunately this machine is less affective (due to its limited pressure settings) and although I am not being woken by an alarm I am, presumably, still leaking air in deep sleep. This is a situation that can't go on too long. If I start writing complete gibberish (as opposed to the normal nonsense), you can assume my gas levels are unbalanced and I'm being poisoned.

Until next time. . .