I usually have a spare mask to hand, but in this case, I didn’t. However, I had a old mask that was only slightly broken – unlike my more recent mask, it worked well once it was on, but it had a tendancy to fall apart when taking it off or putting it on. But it would do for now.
The reason I didn’t have a spare was because I had discovered my favoured mask was no longer available. I’m a bit odd, in that there is a lot of fancy tech around in the area of CPAP masks – gel pads, flutter exhaust ports, fancy 3 way swivels – but I am most happiest and get a perfect nights sleep with the simple plastic and silicon mask. The problem is that everyone wants to push you towards the “better” and more expensive masks, which I either find uncomfortable, or – in the case of the super cushioning gel pads – actually brings me out in a rash.
So this recently happened with my preferred supplier, who used to sell me simple 40 quid masks, nothing fancy, that worked a treat. That mask is now unavailable, and the cheapest mask they have is 90 quid, with most of their offerings over 100 quid. Just for a nasal mask, that might last me anything from 6 months to 2 years.
So after doing a search, I found an Amazon partner selling a mask which looked like it might be suitable, for 38 quid. They had self-branded it, so I didn’t know the make, and it was a bit of a shot in the dark, but it looked like my old mask.
Anyway, it just arrived, and it looks and feels brilliant – really comfortable. It isn’t identical to my old mask, but it does have exactly the same headgear setup (straps round your head), which means I can use my existing headgear, which is still perfectly good, and save theirs for when mine gets tatty.
Furthermore, I now know the manufacturer of the mask – Skynector, in China – and so could then do a Google search. I found a UK CPAP supplier I didn’t know existed, who sell this mask (for £42 quid) plus other inexpensive kit. So even if the Amazon partner doesn’t last long, I have a source.
I’m going to pack my slightly broken mask away as a spare, and try this one for a few nights. If after a week I am having no problems, I’ll probably buy another 2. Result.
“But surely you can get these on the NHS?” I hear you say.
Originally, I got my masks from the sleep centre I visit at Papworth Hospital. Then in 2012, after having a machine that I got on really well with “retired” and replaced with an awful machine, I decided to buy my own CPAP unit.
To my surprise, this put someone’s nose out of joint (Note that I was actually saving the NHS money by buying my own machine) and I was told “You’ve bought your machine, so you need to buy all the accessories as well”, even though the masks available on the NHS were the same fit as my machine. At one point, it was even suggested that having purchased my own machine, I might need to “go private” for care, but that got short shrift from me..
Then a couple of years ago, I was visiting Papworth and was asked “Do you need a new mask?”
“I’ve been told I have to buy my own, because I don’t use an NHS machine.”
“Nonsense!” came the reply, and I left the hospital with 2 spare masks, their policy having changed on the matter.
Sadly, next time this came up, they had standardised on the gel masks, which I simply can’t use. I asked about the cheaper masks (which were a quarter of the price of their over-engineered jobs), and were told they were no longer available.
Which is why I now buy my own masks. It costs me, but it is a lot simpler.