This is part II of my personal journey that I hope takes me to a life-changing event this Friday. If you missed Part I, it is available right under this posting on Marc’s Blog. (https://mk4567blog.wordpress.com)
I left off talking about CPAP (pictured right). This is a piece of equipment especially designed for people who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). CPAP stands for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.” There are many different versions of the CPAP mask, but they all work basically the same way. The mask sits over the face and provides a constant flow of air into the nostrils and down through the air passage to the lungs. The airflow is such that it does not permit the air passage to collapse thus preventing moments of sleep apea.
The problem with the mask is that many people find it too uncomfortable to sleep with. There is air blowing into the nostrils non-stop and that comes with a little noise and a lots of disruption if you open your mouth. Regardless, it is quite successful for many people and it provides them with a tolerable solution to getting a good night’s sleep. For others like me who have princess-and-the-pea syndrome when it comes to getting comfortable enough to sleep, CPAP is useless.
So now, along comes Inspire, described by its Minneapolis manufacturer as “the world’s first implantable FDA-approved neurostimulation system for the treatment of OSA.” The concept is quite simple. A small “generator” is implanted under the skin in the upper right breast area. There are leads attached to this generator. One heads south and is attached to the lung. Another is threaded north, and is attached to the base of the tongue. The caveat here is that the tongue has to be the culprit causing the sleep apnea. There are other areas of the air passage that can be shutting down too and, if so, Inspire cannot help. For the implant to be effective, it must be the tongue’s relaxing during sleep that is the main cause for the air supply being cut off (this is determined by a procedure the patient goes through prior to qualifying for the implant).
The lead that is attached to the lung will sense when breathing has stopped. When it does, the Inspire generator sends impulse signals to the lead on the tongue. These deliver a mild stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve which controls the movement of the tongue, causing it to flex out of the way and reopen the air passage. Does all this work? The Inspire implant has achieved a 78% rate of reduction in sleep apna events per hour. This is significant, to say the least, to someone suffering from OSA.
After 40+ years of averaging just a few hours of sleep each night, and then struggling to stay awake throughout the day and lately having given up most of my driving privileges, it is easy to see why I am excited about the development of this new technology. The only negative is that I will have to wait a month before I learn whether or not Inspire works for me. That’s because there is a 30-day waiting period between the surgery and the activation of the device. This is to ensure it has been implanted successfully and the body has not shown any signs of rejecting it.
I have instructed my body that if it even so much as considers rejecting the device, my next surgical procedure will be a full body transplant…hey, it could happen!
Wish me luck and look for a follow-up posting this weekend. If you would like to learn more about Inspire, the company has a website at http://www.inspiresleep.com …and a credit and thanks to them for the diagram I used in today’s posting.