‘Travelling bush with a CPAP machine has not been a problem’

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CPAP machines
CPAP machines help sleep apnoea sufferers. PIC: PruebasBMA/Wikimedia

While the heavy snoring of a partner is often the subject of Happy Hour jokes, there is a growing realisation among the grey nomad community that it can actually be the sign of a serious medical condition.

Someone with sleep apnoea will either completely stop breathing (known as an apnoea) and/or have their breathing severely restricted (a hypopnea). More and more travellers are discovering that this condition is affecting their sleep, and severely impacting their health and quality of life. Happily, there is an easy solution and it doesn’t have to restrict the travelling lifestyle.

A surprising number of caravanners and motorhomers are now hitting the open road with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine as top of their ‘what to pack’ list. The machine is basically a small box which has a motorised fan inside. This fan quietly draws in air and gently pressurises it, before delivering it to a sleeping user via a mask.

After grey nomad Bruce Thompson was referred by a respiratory specialist for a sleep test, he was diagnosed with hypopnea and began his journey with a sleep machine.

“It meant Bruce getting used to wearing a mask to sleep and having a hose connecting him to his machine,” said wife, Diane. “He needed a humidifier too and so a warmed hose but, amazingly, he didn’t take long to become used to wearing the mask.”

Bruce felt the benefits immediately and found he was getting better sleep, had more energy, and no longer needed an afternoon nap. The retired couple normally take at least one big three month trip a year were obviously worried about the impact on their future adventures. In order to be able to travel without requiring mains electricity the Thompsons bought a pure sinewave inverter which they used for several years. They then discovered they could get a converter for Bruce’s machine.

“It meant he did not use the humidifier as it would use too much power,” said Diane. “But the converter was a winner and enabled us to continue our 4WD adventures.” The avid bush campers then travelled with an Vista RV Crossover camper which allowed them to go pretty much anywhere.
“We travelled the Anne Beadell, Binns Track, The Hay River and the Victorian High Country to name a few, all without mains power, just using the converter,” said Diane. “The converter is smaller and we felt safer.”

• Do you travel with a CPAP machine? How has it affected your life? Email us here to share your experiences.

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