Breathing lessons

Sometimes, a girl needs a little help in the breathing department.

I got a text from Edwina earlier this week asking if I could help her figure out how to get a discounted or donated replacement mask for her CPAP Machine, which she’s been using since spending a night in the Sleep Clinic a couple of years ago. Turns out, Edwina has severe sleep apnea which wasn’t helping her asthma or her high blood pressure. Companies were contacted, reduced co-pays were negotiated, and Edwina went home with an expensive machine. She’s never slept better.

But the worn area on the mask, the part that surrounds Edwina’s mouth and nose, has finally torn beyond repair. The smooth breathing motion that Edwina has become accustomed to is no more.

So far, I’ve talked to representatives from medical supply stores, the original sleep clinic that prescribed the equipment, the health care system’s charity care program, and Medicaid. The answers are all the same, to the tune of the following:

“We can get the machines donated, just not the masks.”

“There’s some organization that does that kind of thing, but I don’t remember what it’s called.”

“I don’t know what people do when the mask doesn’t work anymore.”

“You might look online somewhere.”

The search continues, and Edwina counts the nights until someone in the health/helping industry gets to the heart of the problem: a machine without its parts won’t do the job and a patient without the resources for the parts is pretty much out of luck.


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