Hi Jeff and welcome to the forum. My husband has had chronic sinus issues for all of his life and is now on CPAP. It is recommended, for most people with chronic sinus issue, that they use full-face masks and not the nose masks because the directed pressure into the nasal passages often exacerbates the sinus issues. It was interesting to me that my husband was also drawn to the nose masks at first. I think it was because the nose mask just looked less invasive to him, and the full-face masks looked more intimidating. I had to really work on him to get him to go to the full-face mask, but he finally chose the Quattro FX. The Quattro FX did not work out with his face shape (the middle part of his face is quite small). He changed to the Amara Full face mask, but it has taken a few weeks for him to master the large leaks. He gets nose itches (because of his sinus drainage) and has learned how to address these without causing himself large leaks. He uses XClear with Xylitol before bedtime and again when he gets up in the morning and has found this to be very helpful. You will find this at your local Health Food Store.
Your feeling of gasping for air and not being able to breathe is actually pretty typical for folks getting used to CPAP. Often, this is just a reaction to the start pressure not being strong enough...or the ramp time being too long. Your body may actually be craving more pressure! When this happened to me, I asked my RRT to increase my start pressure to 7 and my ramp to 20 minutes and have never experienced that suffocation feeling since then. My husband's ramp is set at 5 minutes. You can set your ramp to whatever feels comfortable to you. A prescription is not required for ramp time, but you must ask for a new prescription to change your start pressure if you think that might help you.
You must work at making your therapy work for you...and that means never sleeping without your machine running and without your mask on. You must address each of your comfort issues until your therapy simply feels like a new way of sleeping...your new normal and becomes what you do each night...all night long...no exceptions. Stopping your therapy after a couple of nights use is not an option for you. Use the equation: Sleep=masking up.
CPAP therapy is usually prescribed for persons with obstructive sleep apnea. This is usually diagnosed based on an overnight sleep study. If you had a sleep study, you should try to get copies of the information from it. This information will tell you what level of obstructive sleep apnea that you have, whether you have oxygen desaturations in the night and whether your pulse rate goes up in response to your apneas. You should check to see if your machine is fully data-capable and, if it is, you should obtain the appropriate software so that you can check your own data on a regular basis. This is very motivating for many patients with regards to their treatment! When I learned how severe my OSA is, I never again felt safe not using my mask and machine while sleeping. In actual fact, even mild OSA can cause severe symptoms...severe enough that anyone with OSA should feel unsafe without their machines and masks or a treatment of some kind. Good luck to you, friend.