Well, I have my CPAP machine. This consists of a pump and a small mask: the pump sends pressurised air through a tube, into the mask and down into my throat. The pressure has to be high enough to raise the soft tissues which settle on top of the trachea and prevent air entering the lungs.
After another brief consultation with the sleep doctor, I was ushered into another room with a man who I naively assumed was a technician, but was in fact a salesman for one type of CPAP machine. Obviously I don't have enough experience (make that no experience) to know which make of machine is suitable for me, nor which type. He fitted me out with an automatic model, which measures the air resistance coming from my lungs; after a week, they'll download the stored data and decide whether a fixed pressure machine is better (and establish what that pressure is) or whether the automatic model is better. I imagine it will be the latter. Not only is it more flexible, but it's also 25% more expensive. Fortunately I only have to bear between 25-35% of the cost; my health insurance will pay the rest.
Try to imagine what it's like going to bed with a pump chugging away by one's side, blowing air into a tight fitting nose mask pinching one's face. While this is imaginable, try imagining falling asleep with this! As the pump takes in air from the room (and the pump is near an open window), the air is somewhat cold. Basically, the first night was a disaster and I got almost no sleep, until about 2am when I decided to remove the apparatus and sleep "normally", apnea and all.
In the morning, I slunk round to the kibbutz clinic and asked whether the doctor (who was not there) could prescribe me some relaxants in order that I might fall asleep. In the mean time, the nurse gave me some OTC natural relaxant pills based on the herb valerian. The first night (Friday) that I took these pills, I did fall asleep reasonably quickly, only to awake a few hours later boiling with heat (I had left the electric blanket on and my wife had yet to come to bed). Somehow I managed to fall asleep again for another few hours, and then decided to remove the mask. The past few days have followed the same principle: take one or two valerian pills, sleep for four hours, wake up, struggle to sleep again for two hours and then remove the mask and get another two hours sleep.
Last night I was looking at various web sites which said "yes, it's frightening to wear the CPAP mask, and yes, it's difficult to sleep with it" - reassurances which I didn't hear in the sleep clinic. According to work done in Greece, there are definite benefits to be gained from using the CPAP for more than four hours a night, although of course more is better. At the moment I'm using it for four-five hours each night, and I must admit that it's getting slightly easier each night.
The internet articles suggested that there are some machines which are capable of heating the air before it enters the mask. Normally there would be no need for this here, except for during this cold month, and unfortunately that month is my introductory experience.
I do think that I'm less tired during the day, although the road to recovery is going to be slow. My back also hurts, which could be a combination of several factors, including the cold and possible bodily contortions which enable me to sleep "comfortably" with the mask.