Me and a rubber mask.

Last Monday night I did a Sleep Lab. That’s where you sleep overnight in a hospital suite, where you are wired up by dozens of wires  – especially from the skull – for the different patterns of brain waves during sleep- and also over the body, to pick up other muscle movement.  And you get monitored by a nurse in an observation room. They can see you by infrared light camera, plus via all of those wires. They go through the wall to a computer, and you are watched by nurse. They do this to a group of people, each in separate rooms.

That goes on all night. In a later appointment, the sleep specialist discusses the ways you went into various levels (4 levels) of sleep, plus REM sleep. As well, snoring is monitored, and the breathing pattern. They’re looking for the occasions where the soft palate collapses, blocking the airway and causing cessation of breathing – that’s sleep apnoea. As well, they monitor the level of oxygen in the blood.

All of this is in order to check my performance using the CPAP  (Continuous Positive Airways Pressure) device  that I’ve been using most of the time since 2004. Yes – that’s a long time!  I’ve been using a CPAP pump which delivers slightly pressurized air through my nose to my lungs when I sleep. It was set at 9 cmH2O, meaning the pressure of a column of water 9cm high. The current doctor, whom I met when a different illness put me into hospital, picked me up as a “likely customer”  when I was using the CPAP device in hospital. He does sleep labs. I hadn’t been checked for just 13 years!   So I did a sleep lab!

It was OK – I sleep well with my own mask, which covers only my nose, into which the pressurized air is delivered at 9 cmH2O.

BUT … they found that to prevent the collapse of my soft palate, they needed to increase the pressure from 9 cmH2O up to 15 cmH2O.

BUT again … they found that at that pressure, the air escapes from my mouth! That wasn’t happening previously, but is undesirable because it reduces the pressure applied to the soft palate .

HENCE .. they needed to use a different mask which cover my nose AND my mouth. That cost me the tidy sum of $280. The Sleep Lab itself cost me zilch – I suppose because I have a high level of private hospital cover. SO … they gave me a free sleep lab, with free supper and breakfast, and  close attendance of a nurse during the night.

Here’s the problem! They adjusted up the pump pressure of my own pump to 15 cm. —————–

BUT … when I tried on my expensive mask the first night at home, it was hopeless! The pressure was tending to blast it off my face, making farting sounds. I just couldn’t use it!! What to do???

I found that I didn’t have any instructions in my booklets with the REMSTAR Plus pump from 2004 which enabled me to reset the pressure back to 9 cmH2O, so that at least I could operate at a pressure I was used to. There had to be some trick that enabled the nurse to change the pressure of my own pump back and forth.

Google! That’s the trick. I soon found that I could get into the control settings ONLY IF I held the unplugged it, and held down all 3 of the buttons it has, then plugged it in again! BINGO!

So far, I’ve had a night where I’ve set it from 9 cm to 11 cm, but even that modest increase tends to cause my new mask to leak at the edges, with those “farting” noises! I could only sleep if I tied the mask down quite strongly against my face. So that was last night. not a lot of fun. I got to sleep about 1 am, woke up for the toilet at 2:30 am, then woke up again at 5 am, to a freezing house. I toileted again, and gave away the mask and pump for the night.

Not sure what I’ll do tonight. Might fiddle with the adjustments and loosen them up a bit to see if I can work out some position on my face that sits right without pressure escaping with those peculiar noises. You can’t sleep like that, and neither can my wife! These masks are sold all over the world – surely there’s some way of using them properly!

Perhaps I’ll Google onto a user’s group … good idea!

More to come.


Making a new start! Late winter, 2017, recovering from a serious illness, I’ve revived this blog, and will attempt to keep up!!

I started this blog late 2015, and planned to keep up a commentary during our derring-do adventure caravanning up and down to Cairns over a 10-week interval from mid–July until the end of  September, 2016. But, as you will see if you glance back, I ran into fatigue barriers I’ve never struck before, and was unable to keep up with my intended pace and standard. I found that a bit shattering, because I tend to set myself too high a standard sometimes.

I tried to write too much, and also try to include too many images. That’s all well and  good, but by the time we settled in each night, either from driving on a leg of the journey, or from doing tourist or sight-seeing activities during the day, I was overwhelmed by sleep, and just not up to the task I has set myself.

So I finally apologized to my probably all too few readers, and said “barley”! Do kids even say that these days, or is it just one more cultural fragment that has been crowded out? In my childhood in the 1940s and 50s, one could call out that word during a chasing or tigging game, to call it off if one had the stitch, and untied shoelace,  or some other legitimate excuse to call off the chase. A quick search showed that it was a word that was common in Australian states, and maybe came from Scotland. Often it became Barley Charlie, and during the 50s there was an early TV show (in B &W) with that name.

Well, here I go again with this missive. I recently suffered a shatteringly serious dose of viral pneumonia which stunned me into delirium for a couple of days in the ICU unit and I shall have to make it known initially through my face book page  (Bill Leithhead), and perhaps if it’s sufficiently interesting, become self-sustaining. Not that I’m that desperate for friends, but it was nice for an earlier version of this blog, from 2005 onwards to be reasonably Googled.

That included a spectacular image of an attack of  ‘hives’  (urticaria), of unknown origin,  which apparently turned out to be one of the best images of that condition on the internet. In fact, I received a request from one nurse educator for permission to use it in a course she was running!

For the sake of history,  I’ve decided to show it here – in a form suitable for the family, of course.

Aspects of Caravan Life on a Long Trip

The caravan is a Viscount Ambassador, bought by my father in about 1967, and now regarded as a vintage caravan, with a club following. Even for just the two of us, it takes a lot of effort to fit our stuff in, and to work around each other in the cramped confines of the floor space. Here are some more or less random shots I’ve taken on our way from Melbourne up to Cairns.

Taken from between our beds, a view of Glenyce cooking in the kitchen, on the gas stove, accessed by sliding across the bench top. This bench top was originally chip-board, but over the years it started to disintegrate, and finally collapsed when we were in Merimbula, NSW. We found that a workshop in nearby Eden was prepared to manufacture a new, better one for us within a day or so. That was lucky, and we are grateful for their kindness.

a_glenyce_cooking_602px_1_IMG_3889General view taken from the kitchen table, viewing the kitchen bench (not extended), with storage for plastic crockery, and cups and mugs and some foodstuffs, and my bed with a light over it (Glenyce seated on it). The bed – not the light.

Inside the refrigerator, which is the original one, from about 1967, and is quite small. To replace it with a modern one would require very extensive remodelling of the interior, which is not justified. We only ever run it on electricity, and just keep it closed on trips in between stops. It can run on gas, but that requires the pilot light to be extinguished when we refuel. In fact, it might even be illegal, or voiding the insurance to travel with it on. I’m not sure. We NEVER use the van without being on power, anyway. That’s for refrigeration, heating or fan, and electric blankets for back pain. And of course, for the laptop and cameras and phone recharging.

This is my drawer with underpants, socks, handkerchiefs, electric razor, a jumper, some medications, etc. For this long trip I packed 8 each of pairs of socks and underpants. And about 12 shirts, and 5-6 pairs of trousers. Things get grubby on the road, and we might not wash clothes all that often. It varies, and we’ve been lucky so far. The facilities in modern caravan parks are pretty good. d_bill's_socks_and_undies_etc_602px1_IMG_3732

The main wardrobe is pretty full because we need clothes to last over a week, in case we can’t get washing done and dried. The above-listed supply of clothing can be seen in the wardrobe. The rod has been stable for many years, and usually holds up. But not this time! When we arrived at Lightning Ridge, the rod had come out of its holders, and all of the clothes collapsed into a heap. But some deft work with a screwdriver and rolling the rod underneath Glenyce’s feet straightened the rod up reasonably well, and we hope it will be OK for years to come! Or maybe I had better get a length of new rod when we get home. Or even in Cairns – it’s a big city!

Here’s Glenyce reorganizing her packing of medications, and socks, etc. We each take a variety lot of prescription medication, and made sure we have a forward supply of enough of everything to last about 8-10 weeks. We’ve seen our GP, who has printed out a list of prescriptions and the disorders for which they are prescribed. This will make it easier for getting new scripts if we run out.

This is my main drawer with many of my prescriptions, plus Beconase, and other over the counter things, plus odds and ends like a selection of pens and pencils, erasers, nail files, scissors, etc.

Here I’ve contrived an arrangement of two power boards which feed the rechargers for 3 different cameras, the Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, a spare phone battery, the  6″ Tom-Tom navigator, a Comsol 7800 mAh spare power battery, a charger for a pair of Uniden 5W walkie-talkies, etc. Oh – and a powered USB hub  with 7 sockets (4 USB 3.0 and 3 USB 2.0). Sheesh – what a tangle!

A wider shot of the previous junk doing those various tasks which the high-tech idiots like me tend to surround themselves at these times. It includes the laptop, plus one of two 2 terabyte portable hard drives I have which contain most of our life hitherto, in the sense of most files from the desktop back home. I’m also backing up all of the images I’m making on this trip, plus the contents of the supposedly interesting blog in which you are reading these words. The blog and images actually reside in my web site,, which is somewhere in an air-conditioned, backed up, secure data farm (rooms full of disk units) in Sydney, or perhaps Melbourne now, as I (that is, myself as a customer paying to be hosted somewhere) have been bought and sold several times, amongst 4 different firms.


The first leg completed relatively smoothly.

‘Fraid no picture today. (Did one in Facebook.) A very late start (after midday) to get away, and then a smooth run through the Eastlink, Bulleen Rd., Rosanna Rd., etc., then onto the Hume. Usually when Glenyce is doing last packing I get toey and then we sometimes have snippy “words”, but not this time, because I made it a personal project not to do that – but she said she felt it anyway. Projection? Maybe.

The run to Wangaratta is OK – smooth and green – better than the lousy summer dirty creamish colour. A desultory lunch at some roadhouse, then off again. We homed in on Wang guided by our Tom Tom 6″ navigator, whose voice name is apparently “Karen” – she’s agreeable enough, and is well-programmed.

We’ve had an excellent tea with Ron & Mary – with champagne. We talked over lots of topics, including the illnesses and vicissitudes of old age. They are both dealing with issues which are increasingly serious, and it’s a worry. We had good chats about the ways to Queensland and what to see, and family, and so on.

Now we’ve struggled with a very muddy site in Wangaratta, but the heater is on and I’m getting used to typing on these little pads. Anything to keep my brain alive!! Today’s been a rush, and now for a mandarin and then the written diary which we always do individually then swap to read each other’s.

It’s been a struggle to find everything because we’re overloaded for a longer trip, but we’re coping OK so far. Glenyce is getting painful thigh cramps. I hope she gets a really good sleep – me too. Because I was up to 3:40 am last night doing ‘puter wrangling, she let me sleep in to 8:35 am before gently shaking me awake. She’s a darling.

Longer drive to Forbes tomorrow, then Coonabarabran, then Moree. Love these aboriginal places names – don’t you?


Bill and Glenyce’s Caravan Trip to Cairns, 2016 – and blogs following our lives after that …….

bill&glenyce_w300px_2_cream&blkbdrPLEASE NOTE:  Please check the <—– LH SIDE among the butterflies for further Recent Posts.

Hello and welcome from Bill and Glenyce Leithhead,  from Glen Waverley, SE suburb of cosmopolitan Melbourne, capital of the state of Victoria, Australia. This ‘sticky’ Header was used in 2016 as part of a Blog, recording our caravan journey as a round trip from Melbourne to Cairns and back, from July 13th, to between the middle and the end of September. We aimed to escape the cold southern winter into the warmth of the tropical northern Queensland dry season, and to see more of this wonderful country of ours. It was an excellent trip, but too tiring to keep up the Travel Blog, so I ditched it.  But I’ve left this part in.
And so our lives continue on … we both turn 80 in 2018, but try to keep going in the face of arthritis and other challenges to our well-being ….

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