What Works for Me
I use a nasal mask by ResMed called Ultra Mirage™ and can get it on and off using only one hand. The lower strap clicks onto the mask without requiring the velcro to be adjusted. It is also the most comfortable mask I have found. Good luck. Tom, Columbus, Ohio (firstname.lastname@example.org)
An Oral Mask Alternative: The Oracle™
From Gene Love, polio survivor, Charlotte, North Carolina (email@example.com)
After I was hospitalized for a stomach disorder, I was discharged and advised to use the ventilator when I rested in the daytime. I am alone during the day, and my weak arms and shoulders make it difficult to attach the Mirage® nasal mask (ResMed, Inc.)
I use at night with the LP6 (Puritan Bennett). I did not want to employ someone to do this for me.
My respiratory therapist remembered seeing information about the Oracle™ (Fisher & Paykel Healthcare) and suggested that it might work for me. It has been a good solution, and I have been using it since then with my BiPAP® Synchrony (Respironics, Inc.) for short rests during the day.
It took a great deal of practice but I am able to put the Oracle on by myself, after placing one side of it into my mouth and then, with one hand, pushing it in the rest of the way with a light bamboo backscratcher. The advantages are that it seals almost perfectly, no headgear is needed, and I can wear my eyeglasses with it. The disadvantages are that it tends to dry the mouth, but it can be used with a humidifier. Of course, I can't talk with it in my mouth.
My Favorite Mask
From David R., Los Angeles, California (firstname.lastname@example.org):
"Since 2002, it's the ResMed Ultra Mirage™ nasal mask (www.resmed.com). After getting seven years of trustworthy use from my obsolete Resmed/Sullivan bubble mask, I went looking for a new alternative by consulting Diana Guth, RRT, at her nearby Home Respiratory Care business (email@example.com).
Fortunately, she offers a range of options – and even had an identical old bubble mask still in stock. The Ultra Mirage™ seemed the best choice; it was a heavier than my old mask, but it sealed better, and it could be readily replaced if need be. I've been satisfied with it for the past two years and had few problems. Indeed, I am now fully adapted to using a nasal mask with a BiPAP® ventilator from Respironics, Inc. (www.respironics.com – unlike the struggle and stages I reported in a 1995 article published by IVUN).
"I also picked up a ResMed Mirage® Full Face Mask (Series 2) and a Fisher & Paykel Oracle™ oral interface just in case my biggest worry, a totally stuffed nose from a bad cold or flu, were to occur and make breathing with the nasal mask impossible. I've not practiced properly with either one, so I have no remarks to add, except that I'm sure to need a humidifier with both.
"While I'm satisfied with the Ultra Mirage™, I know there are other fine masks out there. A good place to monitor for timely comments, besides IVUN's Ventilator-Assisted Living newsletter and website (www.ventusers.org) is the Internet/Google newsgroup "alt.support.sleep-disorder." It is mostly for CPAP users who have sleep apnea, but many discussions about the pros and cons of different masks also apply to post-polio BiPAP users like myself. The more popular masks there, in addition to the three I have, include the Fisher & Paykel Aclaim™, the ResMed Mirage® Activa™, the Mallinckrodt Breeze® (both the mask and nasal-pillows versions), and the Puritan Bennett ADAM™ nasal pillows.From Audrey K., Ontario, Canada (firstname.lastname@example.org):
"Since I began using positive pressure ventilation (PLV®-100 ventilator) in 1986, I've tried a variety of nasal masks before settling on the Healthdyne Soft Series as the only one which was reasonably comfortable and had minimal air leakage. Even that mask, however, left me with redness on the bridge of the nose for an hour or so after I got up in the morning.
"At the 2000 Post-Polio and Independent Living Conference in Saint Louis I discovered the Breeze® Headgear, which uses nasal pillows, two soft flexible pieces that sit just inside your nostrils. The semi-stiff modular headgear fits over the top and back of your head like a hat and is adjustable. It's less intrusive design only touches your face at the end of your nose, this allowing you to watch TV or read a book. It has no tight straps and its semi stiffness enables someone with arm paralysis to easily adjust the whole headgear by grasping the face end and shifting it. Although the Breeze® has some weak areas in the plastic components which break easily, component parts can be replaced.
"I've been using the Breeze® continuously for the last 3 years, with lower ventilator settings. It far surpasses the masks I've previously tried, but I do worry that the nasal pillows may be changing my facial appearance as I've gone from small to medium to large size pillows!
"Is anybody else concerned about this?"