One of the things we got confirmation of in Medical May was that Mrs Ram has sleep apnea. This was not a surprise to anyone that has slept in the same house, tent, campsite or small enclosed van with her. And we won’t mention what the sleep technician said about Mrs Ram’s snoring. (Well maybe she alluded to the fact that she had to turn the monitoring volume way down. And maybe she said that whomever sleeps with Mrs Ram must be a saint…or deaf)
The official, government and insurance company approved solution is some type of breathing apparatus.
We told the doc that our van-dwelling lifestyle had little extra space. Also many nights we are without utility power. The solution to Mrs Ram breathing issue would need to be compact and, if powered, run on 12 volts. Rather than a comfortable, form-fitting low-power device like Darth Vader has, they offered a large briefcase-sized collection of equipment that required 120 volt power and needed about 100 Amp-hour to get through a night. That would require another large battery in the van.
In addition to that, the insurance company said that the unit determines how much you are using it and uses cell service to call the company. If you are not using it enough, they then charge you for the device. We noted that our campsites often have no cell service. And we wondered if it could “phone home” while we spent a month in Canada.
We politely declined the unit.
Mrs Ram’s friend Missy told her about a different option – a mouth guard that repositions the mouth to improve breathing and even helps retrain your muscles. This sounded like the perfect, no-power solution better suited to our lifestyle. And it promised hope that your own muscles could learn to help you breath better.
Mrs Ram’s doctor thought the best treatment was the machine but she said she could give the mouth guard a try. The insurance company eventually said, “Sure you could do a mouth guard.” Yet every company the insurance company indicated could provide it said they were not contracted to do so. At a cost of $2000 to $3000, we could not afford to pay for it ourselves.
Again Mrs Ram’s friend helped out, giving her a link to a low cost , FDA-approved, mouth guard on line. The $100 SnoreRX mouth guard did not need to be specially fitted to your mouth, saving even more money.
The mouth guard is somewhat large and can feel awkward in your mouth overnight. However, using only minor adjustments, it repositioned Mrs Ram’s mouth at night and stopped the apnea right away. After using it a week, she found she only needed to use it a few times a month to keep her breathing well at night.
We thought Mrs Ram’s apnea problems were solved. Then our travels threw us another curve…