…and the following story is living proof of the miraculous!
Those of you who follow my blog will know that we have been on quite the journey lately with regards to Jake, his breathing issues, his sleep study, and consequently his diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or OSA). If you want to read more of the back story, you can find it in this post. The take-away from those few weeks of craziness, doctors appointments, specialist appointments, etc… was a brand new CPAP machine.
If I may sound technical for a moment or two…
CPAP is short for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure”. Basically, the purpose of a CPAP machine is to use air pressure to keep Jake’s airways open at night, thus allowing him to be able to breathe, to be able to have a restful sleep, and to be able to ultimately experience the growth and development that he has been sorely lacking, due to the sleep apnea.
The CPAP machine works by forcing air pressure into Jake’s nose. He wears a mask with a seal over his nose. The mask is attached to a headpiece, that keeps the mask on and allows us to tighten it to ensure a good seal. The mask is also attached to a giant hose, which connects to the actual machine. The air is pressurized, humid, and warm, in order to be as easy on his lungs as possible. This is what the mask looks like (sorry about the poor picture quality…):
If I may sound emotional for a moment or two…
The very first night we tried to put the CPAP on Jake, we had a success rate of about 3 hours. Which apparently is amazing for the first time! We waited until he was asleep. We dragged his tired, restless little body out of his crib, fitted the mask gently onto his face and over his head, and turned on the pressure. He resisted for a moment or two, but he was half-asleep, so the resistance was quickly overcome by exhaustion. We picked him up, put him back in his bed, lying on his back, and waited…
I went in about 17 times during those 3 hours. I watched with baited breath. I opened up the flashlight app on my phone, and sat on the floor beside Jake’s crib, flashlight trained on his chest. And as I sat there cross-legged on the ground, staring through the bars of the crib at my sleeping child, I wept. I cried tears of joy as I watched Jake stay in one position for over an hour and a half (he is usually restless, because every time his airway closes, he subconsciously switches positions to try and open it). I shed tears of happiness as I watched his chest rise and fall, rise and fall, rhythmically with each rise of his chest representing a deep, life-giving breath of air.
Oh the emotions I felt! My child was breathing. Was resting. Was sleeping peacefully. And was doing all of this for one of the first times of his life!
If I may describe the miracle, for a moment or two…
When we first got the CPAP machine, our Respiratory Therapist told us that it would be a long, hard journey. She informed us that it takes most children a month or two just to get to the point where they can put on the mask and keep it on their face for a few minutes. She made us aware that we were probably looking at a few months time before he would be wearing it at night with any sort of regularity.
We started getting Jake used to the mask by putting it on just before bed, while he was watching an episode of “Elmo’s World” (his favorite show in the world). After a few nights, he seemed to be getting accustomed to it, so we proceeded to put the mask on and turn on the pressure. He still seemed fine, so we decided to give it a try at night.
That first Monday night, as I described above, was amazing! He wore it for 3 hours before he woke up and cried. We were elated! The following few nights he wore the CPAP anywhere from 1-3 hours a night, and we were thrilled. And then, the miracle happened. The 5th night of Jake wearing his CPAP machine, something clicked for him, and he wore it all. night. long. And not only that, but he was worn it all night long EVERY NIGHT since!!
It’s not perfect. We are still figuring out what setting will work best on him. We are still waiting until he falls asleep to put it on. He got his teeth into it one day and bit a chunk out of the gel that helps create the seal! We still go in to check on him at night and occasionally find him sitting up, or in strange positions (classic signs of sleep apnea). But the difference we have seen already is amazing. He looks more rested. He is gaining weight. He naps less during the day, and has more energy.
So I stand by my assessment. Miracles really DO happen!