Archive for Gear

CPAP Mask Liners

There’s a new-ish product out there for us CPAP users to help masks seal against your face, and avoid those red marks and sores. I give you the mask liner:

remzzzsnasalcpapmaskliner

This past month I’ve been using RemZzzzs mask liners for my Comfort Gel Blue nasal cushion mask and love them. When I’m not feeling well, I’ll use my CPAP even when not sleeping just to get some breathing relief. As many of you know, the extra mask time can really irritate your face. Last summer I got some bad sores from using a mask too much and I’m not really sure what else I could have done about it. I regularly clean my cushions and mask, and was careful not to over-tighten the headgear. It’s the simple combination of time and pressure that can turn coal into diamonds. The mask liner will create a barrier between the cushion and your face, create a uniform surface to help create a seal, and soak up moisture or natural oils from your skin.

I’ve tried to do this on my own in the past. Liz gave me the idea to fold up a piece of toilet paper. It kind of works, but isn’t shaped correctly and I could only do this across the bridge of my nose. The mask liners are made to perfectly fit your mask.

I purchased a box of 30 mask liners on Amazon for about $25. These aren’t the cheapest of things, but if used only when needed, I’m sure you could make them last. I talked to my cpap supply company, National Sleep Therapy, a few days ago and they can sell me mask liners but insurance will not cover them at this time. If you’re not sure about spending the money, the RemZzzs website does have a link for a free trial.

One other trick I’ve done is to have two different masks. Along with the Comfort Gel Blue nasal cushion, I also have a Nuance Pro nasal pillow. I’ll either switch up the masks every other night, or just wear the one that feels best. If my sinuses are clogged up at all, the Nuance is going to be the toughest to handle. Then when I re-order supplies every 90 days, I alternate between the cushions and the pillows so I always have some for each mask type.

I have a full beard and was warned from the start I’ll have trouble finding masks with a good fit. I bet I could wear a full-face mask with a liner.

May is Asthma Awareness Month

May is asthma awareness month. My sister likes to celebrate her birthday for an entire month, so I’ve been trying to share all month about asthma on facebook, twitter, and instagram.

My month has been ok. My little dude ended up in the ER with bronchiolitis again. As time goes on, his breathing resembles mine more and more. Fortunately it’s very episodic for him and only flares up every few months. A few duonebs, some pulmicort, and prednisone fixed him up. It’s interesting to watch him expend as much energy as possible all the time. Even when he’s having trouble breathing, he’ll move and move and move until he ends up lying on the floor.

Speaking of “lying on the floor,” I had a “moment” myself a few days ago. I wasn’t feeling too great and was lying down while the kids watched a movie. The little dude was pretty active, like a spider monkey, as usual. He was kind of climbing on me, and before I knew it, he was jumping on my chest. That triggered some major coughing and wheezing which ended in me crawling towards my medicine, getting too worn out, and lying on the floor for a long time. I was eventually able to get to my meds and noticed my oxygen was 85%. In the moment, these sorts of incidents don’t seem like a huge deal. Afterward, they do seem a bit more serious. I know I’d be exponentially more concerned if I witnessed this happening to someone else.

A couple nebs, magnesium, allergy meds, five hours on CPAP, and some more albuterol had me mostly ok in 24hrs. I should have used an epipen or gotten help. That’s easy to now, but in the moment all i can think about is, “I don’t want to go to the hospital.”

At the moment I’m outside of Pittsburgh and will be visiting my other lung doctor at UPMC tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see where my PFTs are at and things have changed or stayed the same. A year ago I found out I have idiopathic restrictive lung disease on top of everything else. It’d be really cool if things were better.

Am I the only one that has to pack three times as much medical stuff than clothes on trips? I feel a bit ridiculous sometimes, but I assure you it’s all necessary.

Trayvax Axis Review

I tend to use a wallet until it is falling apart. I like to get my money’s worth out of them. Around Christmas I knew the time was quickly coming to find a new wallet, and started looking into thin wallets.

I’ve never quite had the same problem George had, but I’ve tried to keep wallets out of my back pants pockets for years. I don’t even really carry cash with me anymore, just a lot of plastic. I was also thinking if my wallet held less stuff, I’d be forced to carry less.

Trayvax-Axis

I don’t exactly remember how I came across Trayvax, but the more I looked into what they do and make, the cooler they were for me.

  • American company
  • Products made in the USA
  • Wallets are RFID resistant
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Partner with and support veterans

This wallet is made out of solid, tough materials I dig. The design is minimal and slim to carry my plastic cards and a few bills with ease. It’s smaller than my cell phone so it’s not like it crowds my front pockets. The wallet is also modular, allowing you to loosen or tighten the strap to securely fit what you’re carrying. If you’re concerned about the wallet opening up, you can secure it with a carabiner or other similar item.

I think what has struck me most, is all the positive comments I have received from cashiers when I go to pay.

“Is that a wallet?”

“Where’d you get that?”

“That’s so cool!”

I’m not sure why, but cashiers seem to love wallets, beards, and Trejo’s Tacos t-shirts. I’ve also used the Trayvax Axis as a tool of sorts to pry or smash things. So far it’s held up quite well.

If the Axis isn’t your style, Trayvax does offer three other models with color variations and accessories. Be sure to check out what they offer. Did I mention they have a Youtube channel?

Purple Mattress Update

So we’ve had our Purple mattress a little over a month and are still loving it. At this point, I think it’s fair to say we’re keeping it. Here’s a quick rundown of our adjustment to the new mattress.

Mattress protector – I have horrendous allergies so it’s a really good idea to have my mattress and pillows encased to cut down on dust, dust mites, pollen, and whatever else. Originally I purchased this Sleep Tite model, but I didn’t pay attention to it being for thick mattresses up to 22″ deep. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but after we zipped the mattress up and put sheets on the bed, we could feel the bagginess of the extra material beneath the fitted sheet. It was driving us a little nuts.

I then did some more careful searching on Amazon to find another mattress protector that is made for those 9″ to 12″. The Purple Mattress happens to be 9.5″ thick, so this was a much better fit. I also picked up a fitted-sheet-style protector as a second layer on the mattress. The reasoning is we can easily slip this one off and wash it periodically without having to unzip the encasement and take the bed apart.

Pillow protectors – Since I was purchasing a new mattress protector, I went ahead and got new ones for our pillows too. I went with the Sleep Tite brand and they’re working great.

Bed height – As I mentioned before, the Purple Mattress is about 10″ shorter/less thick than our previous mattress. This hasn’t bothered me, but Liz would prefer the bed to be a bit higher off the ground. To fix this, I picked up some bed risers. They are modular, plastic blocks of sort allowing me to raise the bed height by 3″, 5″, or 8″.

The bed has been great. It’s comfortable sleeping on our backs or sides. Even sitting on the bed for extended periods of time working on laptops doesn’t seem to put any stress on our backs. I really love that I can by lying near the edge of the mattress and I don’t feel like I’m going to slide off the bed. If there was one regret, it might be that we stuck with the queen size and didn’t upgrade to a king.

I’ve also had the flu/bronchitis for the past three weeks and have spent 90% of that time in bed. This hasn’t seem to have affected the mattress at all.

Beard scissor maintenance

Like many of you, I use scissors to trim my beard. Electric trimmers or clippers tend to snag hairs and give you split ends. It’s also really easy to make big mistakes, where with scissors you might have a misplaced snip or two that is more easily corrected.

dovo_scissors

I have a pair of Dovo 43456 scissors from Solingen, Germany. They were purchased for me as a gift at The Beard Baron’s web site. They’ve been great, but over the past year have become more and more loose. It’s one of those things that happened gradually, and then all of a sudden they barely worked. Fortunately there was an easy solution – tightening up the screw.

At first, I grabbed a random screwdriver from the garage but soon realized I was going to bugger it up if I weren’t careful. I have a nice set of hollow-ground, Grace screwdrivers that worked much, much better. When I first received the scissors, there was slight friction when opening and shutting them. They weren’t floppy like they had become. As luck would have it, I found a good video on YouTube to illustrate what I’m talking about.

The video also demonstrates oiling your scissors, which is a good idea for anything metal. From now on I’m going to pay more attention to when my trimming scissors need a little love and care.

Purple Mattress

So we’ve been looking, thinking, and searching for a new mattress. The one we got almost 5 years ago has two valleys in it from where we sleep, kind of like a Home Simpson ass groove.

Unfortunately, we don’t like those grooves as much as Homer does because it’s been hurting to get up every morning. Beds are a difficult thing to purchase without remorse. Many boast 5 to 25 year warranties with 121 caveats when it comes time to get your mattress repaired or replaced. It’s also easy to spend thousands of dollars if you aren’t careful.

I decided to take a gamble on a Purple Mattress. A big selling point for me was the 100 day trial period with a full money back guarantee. Usually you’re offered 30 or 45 days to change your mind, and that doesn’t always come with a full refund.

So far we’ve been sleeping on it for a week and are enjoying it. The only annoying thing at this point is the mattress protector I bought is baggy. It’s made for mattress 8″ to 22″ and the Purple Mattress is 9.5″. We’re looking for one made for not-deep mattresses to have less extra fabric.

Using a CPAP when sick

Using a CPAP and wearing a mask on your face can be difficult even when you’re feeling 100%. When not feeling well, compliance can be a problem for even the best of us. Wearing your CPAP when sick is even more important because your body is relying heavily on sleep to get better. Here are a few things I’ve learned or discovered that can help me stay compliant.

Sinus rinsing

The thought of using a neti pot or similar product seemed awful and disgusting. I even avoided using one for about 18 months even though my doctor insisted and provided me with multiple samples. Once I finally found some courage to do it, I was shocked at the benefits – and all the snot that came out.

I use the NeilMed Sinus Rinse bottles. It’s a squeeze bottle which allows me to control the pressure when I’m clearing out my sinuses. It’s a good idea to use filtered or distilled water. I get my water from a Brita filter I keep in the refrigerator, so I usually microwave the bottle with the cold water for 30-40 seconds so I don’t experience brain freeze.

I think the packaging suggests one rinse a day. My doctors have instructed me to rinse twice a day, especially during allergy seasons which last March to November for me. I often have a period of “good sinuses” and forget to keep rinsing, only to go to a regularly scheduled doc appoint and be told I need to get back on track. It’s especially important when I’m sick.

Don’t let your sinuses dry out

Humidify your CPAP – There are several ways to assist this problem. I use a heated humidifier with my CPAP. Once I used it without in a dry, dusty hotel room. My sinuses were so messed up I had major nose bleeds eventually resulting in me shoving a tampon up my nose. Yeah, I realize that probably sounds odd, but the cheap, singly-ply toilet paper in the room seemed to dry my nose out even more and wasn’t really absorbent.

If you experience rain-out, too much water in your mask, try adjusting your humidifier setting to something a little lower. You might also inquire about a heated hose with your CPAP supplies provider.

Drink more water – Drinking water can also be a big help. I try to drink a gallon of water a day. It doesn’t always do the trick, but it helps with a lot of things.

Moisturize your sinuses – An allergy doctor suggested I get saline in a spray bottle for my sinuses, or try out Ayr sinus gel. It was helpful, but seemed not to have any long-lasting effects. It reminded me of cough drops or chapstick – once you start, it’s hard to stop. Another doctor suggested I try Ponaris Nasal Emolient. The packaging boasts astronauts use the stuff. It comes with a dropper and has a medicinal smell like tea tree oil. One drop of this in each nostril keeps my sinuses in good shape most of the day, if not the entire day.

Application can be a bit tricky dropping liquid up your nose. I usually lie down on my bed and tip my head back. Be careful not to squeeze too hard on the dropper or you’ll put way too much in your nose and it’ll all run down the back of your throat. After putting the drops in, I often squeeze my nose a bit to move the emollient around. If a little bit starts to run out your nose, some simple dabbing with a tissue will take care of it.

Try changing your mask

Earlier this year I was having trouble keeping my oxygen levels up, and the easiest way to feel better was to stay at home with my CPAP on. The problem I experienced was sores developing on my face from being in contact with my mask 18 hours or more a day. I started folding up a piece of toilet paper to act as a buffer between my mask and face. That helped, but it wasn’t a long-term solution. I eventually had a chat with my CPAP provider and got a different style of mask. Now I alternate masks every day to help prevent this issue. Different mask types might also help you in using your CPAP while sick. If you mask is only attached to your nose, a nasal pillow or cushion, you might try a full-face mask. Many like them because you can breathe through your mouth or nose.

Clean your CPAP

Probably the easiest thing to do is make sure your CPAP, and its replaceable parts, are clean and replaced on schedule. Leaving a dirty filter in your machine won’t help you at all if you have allergies. You should also be rinsing your mask parts out, and emptying your humidifier reservoir daily, and washing them with warm water and soap weekly.

SoClean_2

Towards the beginning of this year I decided to invest the money in a SoClean 2 unit. Each morning, after I wake up, I simply place my mask, with hose attached, into the cleaner. The machine runs on a timer, similar to a programmable thermostat, and starts up when I want it to. The cleaner runs for about 7 minutes and then needs two hours before you use your CPAP again. It even sanitizes your humidifier reservoir allowing you to keep whatever water you had from the previous night. The cleaning unit costs around $300, which I admit is expensive, but the peace of mind and ease of keeping my CPAP clean is worth it for me.

Have I left anything out? What do you do that helps? I’m always interested in learning what others have done and what helps. I didn’t mention this above, but you should always check with your doctor or CPAP provider if you’re having any trouble with your equipment or usage. If one or both of these are unresponsive or not helpful, consider finding a new one if possible. I’ve sacked several doctors and durable medical equipment providers over the years for not providing the level of service I need.

One year of Lucky Scruff

I’ve been a Lucky Scruff customer for almost a year and a half now. I did an initial review last year, and have planned to do more reviews of their products, but just haven’t gotten around to it. So here’s a digest of sorts.

Beard Oil

I really dig their beard oil. I feel the quality is just as good as some of the more expensive brands, and I love their scents. My favorite are Holy Beard Oil, Dragon’s Blood, and Dragon Forged – which seems to be almost a mix of the two. The weight of the oil is a good medium between heavy and light, lasts all day, and takes care of any skin dryness of beard dandruff. It also makes my beard look great.

Beard Balm

I was really excited to learn Lucky Scruff was releasing balms last year and got in early by being a part of the $20 Beard Club. Holy Beard Oil was the first scent made into a balm, which was great because I was already using the accompanying beard oil. It does just what I was needing in the way of control. It keeps all the fly-aways down and shapes my beard without it turning into some odd, looking hairspray sculpture from the 80s. I also don’t have to apply it every day, it’s more like 2 or 3x a week. I also have the Dragon Forge beard balm which I love just as much as the Holy Beard Balm.

$20 Beard Club

I joined the $20 Beard Club about a year ago and stayed subscribed for 8 months. The way it works is every month you want to participate you are charged $20 + shipping. Included in your package is a beard oil with something else. I received two or three oils some months, beard balms, combs, soaps, and other beard supplies. It’s much cheaper than buying the items individually, and Lucky Scruff posts the contents of the month’s package ahead of time so you can decide if you want it or not. I didn’t quit out of dissatisfaction, in fact, I unsubscribed because I realized one day I had amassed a collection of 15 beard oils. One ounce of beard oil lasts me about three months, and the shelf-life of beard oil doesn’t last forever. If I actually use up my stash some day, I’ll most likely re-enroll.

beardDrawer

Beard supplies

Customer Service

The guys at Lucky Scruff know how to take care of their customers. All their products come with a guarantee. If you don’t like what you’ve bought, within reason, they will replace or refund your purchase. They are also quick to respond on social media and by email if you have questions or concerns.

They also have great swag in the form of can coolers, stickers, and other items. You get a can cooler with every order, so I’ve given many of them away.

Can Cooler

Can Cooler

As you can probably tell, I really dig this company. If you’re looking to start taking more intentional care of your beard, check out their products. Also, feel free to ask me any questions. I’ll answer them the best I can, or will refer you to someone else.

Tree pollen is kicking me in the lungs

It’s definitely that time of year again. The trees are twitterpated and spreading their pollen all over the place with little regard if people like me even want their powdery, yellow/green gift. My nose runs, I sneeze, my eyes burn and swell; I cough, my throat hurts, my skin turns red, and I wheeze; I get headaches and it’s hard to breathe.

In talking with my lung doc he’s fairly certain I’m getting mucus plugs in my airways as well as swelling and inflammation. They’re trying to keep me off prednisone so for the time being I’m taking vitamin C, vitamin D, and magnesium. The magnesium seems to really help with the wheezing. I also picked up a couple incentive spirometers which I use daily to help “pop my airways open.”

It’s kind of like breathing exercises and would benefit anyone. Many recognize these as “those things you breathe into at the hospital.” Right now I’m keeping one at work and another at home. It’s kind of like a reverse peak flow meter. It’s interesting to see on the days I feel really bad I’m only able to inhale 1500 to 2000 ml and on good days I’m able to do more around 3000 to 3250 ml.

My larger goal in all this is to stay out of the ER/hospital. There have already been times I probably would have gone in several years ago, but now with my added experience and know-how, I’ve learned how to deal with it at home. I think I’ve had six times so far in the past month where my allergies have become so bad to significantly affect my breathing. I’ve found the trick is to take lots of antihistamines, relax, and chill with my CPAP on for as long as possible. It has resulted in some pressure sores/lesions on my face, but I’ve figured out how to avoid those as well. How’s the allergy season going for you so far?

TriggerNeb reusable nebulizer set

I just got an email from JustNebulizers.com about a new neb set they offer. Is it just me, or are they making breathing treatments more and more like smoking a hooka?

TriggerNeb Reusable Nebulizer Kit: http://youtu.be/bcOUaD3LQFE