Monday, June 9, 2014


So this is what my apnea appliance looks like.

The one on the left, which pops onto your upper teeth, has a tiny hook coming down from that metal bit and, as you can see, the one for your bottom teeth has a well that the hook drops down into. Once they are both in place, and the hook has dropped into the well, you slide it back into that little notch.

You then insert this key into a wee hole on the front of the appliance. Each rotation of the key causes the lower teeth to ratchet forward just the tiniest fraction of an inch. Then you remove the key and go to sleep. You start out at a minimal setting the first night. Then, every few days you add one more rotation -- until you reach the setting that keeps your oxygen readings at a safe level throughout the night. This is discerned by sending you home periodically with a little oximeter to clip on your finger whilst you sleep.

When you wake up in the morning, you pop those out, and pop this little gizmo in, just for 15 minutes or so.

It just reminds your teeth to go back to their original position, so you don't end up with a bulldog bite.

The good news is that I was able to sleep through the night with it from the very first night -- no gagging, and no allergic reactions. And, if I, the queen of gaggers, can handle this? Anyone can do it! Also,when I say sleep through the night, I mean sleep through the night. As long as it's in my mouth, I never snort myself awake.

So, I go in for my two-week checkup, thinking I must be the doc's star pupil with the way I've aced all this. He has me put the appliances in, hook them together, wiggle my jaws around etc., then tells me to separate them and pop them out -- something I've done every morning for the last two weeks. Only I can't get them apart. The hook is hung up on something. The doc bends over to take a closer look and discovers this -- something he has never seen in all the years he has been doing this.

The little hook was lifting the metal well right out of the lower appliance.

Turns out that, though the appliance itself is not normally made from acrylic, the glue that holds these metal bits in place is, so the manufacturer had to experiment with different materials to find something else they could use. File this experiment under FAIL.

So what does the doc do? He Super Glues it back in place, swearing to me that it is completely "bio-compatible". I suppose that's true. I do seem to remember it being used to close wounds in field emergencies. But still, Super Glue? In my mouth? The only problem was that he couldn't get the glue to dry (shoulda been our first clue), so he had me sit there shooting air at it while he went off to deal with other patients. Finally, it set up. I tried it on again and tugged at it with the hook. Nothing happened, so he sent me home saying "If it looks like it's trying to come out again, stop wearing it immediately! We don't want you swallowing anything in your sleep."

The first night it worked like a charm. Friday, however, I woke up to discover what you see above. I called his office immediately, to see if they wanted me to come in or try gluing it myself. I got a message saying "We will be out of the office until the 16th." So, for now, it's back to the ol' sleep-snort-awake-repeat routine.

I have a feeling they're fixin' to rue the day I ever walked through their door.

P.S. In case you didn't know, untreated apnea puts you at a much greater risk of stroke and heart attack. Not to mention all the issues that come from sleep deprivation.


Diane said...

Wow, I can hardly believe you slept through the night with all that in your mouth. Maybe you were just very exhausted?
I do have to wear just an upper appliance to keep from grinding my teeth. What is it with this grinding stuff in my old age? Anyway I know I am attacking anad chewing the appliance while sleeping (or trying to.) Can't imagine having to wear what you are wearing.

Hill Country Hippie said...

I was shocked at how easily I adjusted to it. Plus, I was so grateful not to be tied to a c-pap machine for the rest of my life. My hubby uses one, and they are such a pain to travel with. Of course, that may be my only option, if they can't figure out how to deal with my sensitivity to acrylic.