Sleep Apnea and the Amazon

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Monkey, monkey … Jaguar!

As I’m sitting on a bench in our camp in the Peruvian jungle, Victor, one of our guides is painting a monkey on my shoulder with blue juice from the Huito fruit. The evening sounds of frogs and crickets are starting to quiet and the morning sounds of birds and monkeys in the canopy begin.

It is a magical time and Victor is helping me distinguish between the calls of the birds and the sounds the monkeys make. As I hear a screech from the canopy, Victor points with the piece of wood he is painting with and in a deep serious voice says ‘monkey’. A little time passes and after another screech, he points again towards the other side of camp and in a wise, knowing tone he says ‘monkey’.

As we sit there and he finishes his artwork on my shoulder as I’m listening intently to see if I, too, can identify the monkeys. As we listen to the jungle speak, I briefly wonder how dangerous it is to be close enough to hear a Jaguar. Soon, we hear a new sound, a growling coming from a hammock near camp. It is low and dark. The mammalian rumble rips through camp and is clearly not an insect, frog or monkey. Victor points in the direction of the hammock and says, ominously: Jaguar.

We both break out in giggles.

The low dark sound is a snore. My jungle partner, Pete, and I both have severe sleep apnea and without the aid of CPAPs both snore, apparently, like Jaguars. We had hoped to avoid sharing our snoring with our fellow campers by bringing portable CPAPs. We chose the Transcend ( along with a Transcend solar panel designed to charge the CPAP batteries by day so we could enjoy quiet, high-oxygen sleep by night.

Pete and I thought we had it figured out. We purchased the product ahead of our trip to give ourselves time to make sure these CPAPs would work for us. We slept with them in our beds both plugged into an outlet and with the batteries. Pete put the solar panel out in the sun in the driveway before leaving home and made sure it could charge the battery. 

The actual CPAPs work wonderfully and Pete is continuing to use his travel model at home rather than switch back to the standard ResMed model because the air pressure it delivers is strong and even. I switched back to my regular BiPap as I like the automatic start feature. The design of the CPAP is fantastic, it is small and easily fit in the ridge sacks we had bought for this purpose. The product came with a long air tube which is nice for home but it also worked to plug the shorter tube attached to the nasal mask (with a little medical tape added for stability) directly into the mask making it light and less bulky to carry and have in our hammocks. The ‘on’ button is a little small but once we got used to finding it in the dark it was no problem to turn on and off.

Even before leaving we had concerns about the solar panel as it seemed to charge the batteries rather slowly and there is no indication as to the amount the battery is charged, only a light that changes from red to green when charged. But it worked well enough and we vowed to stay ahead of things and charge the batteries fully before we left and be vigilant about charging with the solar panel throughout each day.

Despite doing our best to keep our batteries charged including Pete designing a platform for the charger to sit on so we could rotate it throughout the day to keep it in direct sunlight, the solar panel let us down. Once the batteries were low, the best the charger could do was provide a couple hours of device use for one of us in the evening. Even if a second charger had been available, neither of us would have had enough power to make through the night without sharing our jungle growls.

Pete and I recommend the Transcend Auto Mini CPAP.

For a shorter trip with fully charged batteries, this product works like a dream. For a longer trip like we were on (eight nights of camping) be sure to bring a solar charger for each person and expect that even with that, there will be a Jaguars in camp.

Mya Thomae

Amazon Expedition 2018

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