Thursday, February 28, 2008


So, I've been back for a bit now. I'm having memory problems, but ultimately do feel a bit happier. I'm not very chatty yet, either in real life or in blog world, but wanted to let everyone know I am alive and doing well.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Off to see the wizard...

They just called and I have to go right away, so no pithy comments.

Wish me luck...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Alrighty then!

Friends and family have been expressing good wishes for me for two days--in person, by email, by phone. It's wonderful to feel surrounded by this haze of golden warmth.

Everyone has been so nice and encouraging, but the worry is in their voices. I wish I wasn't worrying anyone, one of us worried is enough, right?

Damnedest thing: the book I mentioned on Thursday, " Lipstick and Thongs in the Loony Bin by Courtney A. Wash (a memoir I plan on reading ironically in the 'loony bin')?" Well the author left me an encouraging comment on the Thursday post. Cool or what? The haze of golden warmth expands it's circle to strangers...

I've showered and washed my hair. (Before the shower I took a loooooong hot bath and read two New Yorker mags.) I'm doing laundry. I'm mostly packed. I've finished dinner. I erased a lot of watched items on my DVR. Now I'm sitting with "my boys"--all three of them--while they watch their Smallville.

Tommorow morning they will call to tell me when to be there. Hopefully it goes as planned and I can go tomorrow. The waiting is killer.

I should be packing.

It’s a white out outside. It was warm yesterday and now…a blizzard. The bleak grayness of the whole thing is kind of funny. Gray, bad, cold weather always makes me much more depressed than normal even when normal is uber-depressed. So I’ll be good and depressed tomorrow when I enter the hospital. No mistaking that.

I’m supposed to be packing. But I cannot pack until I finish the laundry. I cannot do the laundry until I take my shower. I cannot take my shower until I can get my ass off of the couch.

Nate and I—mostly I—are watching all of the recorded stuff on the DVR to free up space for the things that will record while I’m gone. I’m drinking coffee, no food yet…Nate is making one of my favorites for dinner—a send-off I guess. Real mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. Hot dogs or sausage for him and the boys, but I just eat the potatoes and sauerkraut. Maybe half of a sausage or one hot dog, but for me it’s all about the potatoes and sauerkraut.

I usually only eat dinner, but at the hospital they make you come to the “dining room” for all three meals. Of course I’ll probably miss breakfast and maybe lunch on ECT days, because I’ll probably be sleeping off the anesthesia. I have a feeling it will take me longer than a normal person to shake the anesthesia hangover because of my illness and the fact that I sleep so much to begin with—not just because of the depression, I don’t think. I think my physical pain makes me more tired in addition to the depression.

My little things are mostly bagged up, but not my clothes or toiletries. I think I’ll take my own pillow, in addition to my travel pillow which is my security pillow I sleep with every night. And maybe my “couch blanket” which I use when I’m holed up on the couch all day. It will make me feel homier, I suppose. Not looking forward to the hospital, not one stinking bit. I hope they don’t make me go the stupid groups they have all day. I‘m not comfortable with the idea of “sharing” with strangers and the crap they do and talk about in those groups is ridiculous, anyway. Like the patients are mentally challenged toddlers or something. It’s insulting.

Whoops! Stopped snowing and now it's sunny. Weird apocalyptic weather.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Going in Monday

Well, PNT’s office called me back yesterday morning. I will be admitted Monday afternoon unless a lot of emergency loonies enter the bin this weekend…more emergent or loony than me, anyway, lol.
The girl I’ve been dealing with is really nice and helpful. She called my insurance and they approved it and told her I need to have a physical within 48 hours of admittance, so I scheduled for 10:30 a.m. with PNT. But then she called back yesterday afternoon and said when she called them to confirm the appointment they told her it’s not necessary after all. She just needs to call on the day of admittance for final approval numbers. She said she will call me on Monday to let me know what time to “check in.” Like it’s a resort or something.
I am rather nervous now. The minute I got off of the phone I called my mother, and then I had to get off of the phone with her so I could throw up, because my stomach was so nervous. I’ve compared it now to when you are waiting for your baby to be born and you’re like, “I can’t wait for the baby; I can’t wait for the baby.” And then the baby is born and you’re like, “Oh my goddess, I have a baby. What the hell do I do now??!!??”
They do treatments Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings very early, so my first treatment will be Wednesday morning. The other day and a half will be for taking me off of my meds that would interfere with the treatments. Only a day and a half?? It took me a few months to get up to standard dosage on the Lamictal (which is a mood stabilizer in addition to an anti-convulsant for epilepsy—hence my having to come off of it: it would keep the convulsion from happening) and the Klonopin has been helping so much that this worries me to just go off of them. Plus how long will they take to put me back on them? The Lamictal sometimes causes Stevens-Johnson syndrome if you up the dose too fast… the Klonopin only takes a three or four days to get steady in your bloodstream.
I’ve been going over my packing list for the hospital and putting stuff in Ziplocs for organization along with lists so I know what I took with me. I’m taking three men’s Hanes sweat suits and the yoga-y type clothes I’ll wear into the hospital, two pairs of men’s style flannel pajamas, lots of clean underwear, and a bunch of the longer style of “body shapers” (the stretchy tanks with spaghetti straps and a "shelf bra” from New York and Company.) No Bras, no jeans. I’m going for totally schlumpy comfort in the hospital. I would just sleep in my sweats even, but I remember from my other stay in '99 that the hospital makes you get dressed for breakfast, so if I slept in sweats, they’d make me change.
Anyway, I have to go run some errands now…My rheumatologist’s nurse hates me so she still hasn’t called in my NSAID (currently Voltaren) prescription yet. (I’m not being paranoid, she genuinely does not like me due to my snubbing my original rheumy who I believe she was sleeping with, but he was a horrible and ignorant man.) But I have to pick up some of my other meds and a few things for the family for before I leave for a week. I don’t want Nate to have to run errands in addition to run the house while I’m gone. There is extra of everything in the house, now. Well, once I pick up dental floss threaders for the boys, there will be. (Holden finally got his upper braces; he’s been wearing a “pendulum—or expander—up there until now. So now they both need floss threaders. Those suckers are expensive—especially when you have two kids using two a day…)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Thursday already??

How I am feeling today:

Black Eyed Dog by Nick Drake
A black eyed dog he called at my door
The black eyed dog he called for more
A black eyed dog he knew my name
A black eyed dog he knew my name
A black eyed dog
A black eyed dog.
I'm growing old and I wanna go home
I'm growiing old and I don't wanna know
I'm growing old and I wanna go home.
A black eyed dog he called at my door
A black eyed dog he called for more.

Still no word from PNTs office. He had said we could start as early as this week, but that is obviously out of the question. Next week would be great, but considering it is Thursday, it looks unlikely to be the beginning of the week, if at all. The whole thing of having to pass it through my insurance and taking me off of my mood stabilizer--Lamictal, which is also an anti-convulsant--seems like it would probably take a week by itself. I'll also have to change my Klonopin for a shorter acting antianxiolytic for some reason. I hope I can go back on both and not some new meds after the treatments, because these two are definitely working well for my mixed states and anxiety. Just need an antidepressant that works after the treatments... Hope we figure it out someday.

The boys are spending the night at a friend's house tomorrow night and Nate wanted to know if I wanted to go out, but honestly, I don't know if I can drag myself to take a shower and wash my hair and then go do something after that. It tires me to do it and it even tires me to think of it.

I ordered these from Amazon last night:

And I'm reading this popular fiction work now:

So far it's all right for popular fiction. A little light reading after all of the ECT reading and true crime sadness.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Today's "news"

The latest on PNO and PNT: I called PNT’s office to confirm they received the records which PNO called to let me know he faxed. (He faxed them before leaving for a NYC medical conference for two weeks and then checked when he came home, only to see that the transmission of the fax went awry, so he re-faxed them for me.) PNT’s office said, “No, we didn’t get them, still waiting.” ARGH! I called PNO’s voicemail in tears (because the waiting is killing me) to ask that he re-re-send them. Then I get a phone call from the medical records office at PNT: Whoops! We got them and PNT already has them. SO sorry! So I had to call PNO’s voicemail back and say: Whoops! Never mind my last, barely comprehensible message. They did get them. So now I’m waiting for PNT to make a final decision and call me back.

Some new books on my wishlist (a mess of compulsive collecting and other neuroses):

Yes, these are mostly kids’ books, but I like to collect kids’ books which I find interesting. I especially like books illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger.

And finally, for today, last night I finished Never Enough by Joe McGinniss. Good true crime about a crazy, hubby murdering rich, white lady in Hong Kong. I give it a B or B+ for the genre.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I’m still waiting for PNO to send my records to PNTs (psychiatrist number two) office. I don’t know if he already sent them and PNTs office lost them or if he still hasn’t sent them. Despite repeated messages to PNO, he still has not called me back. Nothing can happen until he does this. I’m in limbo.

Even though my reading is not up to par, I am still reading. These are the books I’ve read since sometime after Christmas:

If you enjoy(ed) Foreskin’s Lament, then I also suggest these books:

I collect quotes in my Molekine notebook; below are some from the past month or so. (I like the squared, rather than ruled notebooks--I even use one for my actual journal--and also carry a small notebooks for "notes" in addition to my red weekly calendar/notebook.)

From the movie Harvey:

  • Elwood P. Dowd: Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it.
  • Elwood P. Dowd: Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.
  • The Taxi Driver: ...I've been driving this route for 15 years. I've brought 'em out here to get that stuff, and I've drove 'em home after they had it. It changes them... On the way out here, they sit back and enjoy the ride. They talk to me; sometimes we stop and watch the sunsets, and look at the birds flyin'. Sometimes we stop and watch the birds when there ain't no birds. And look at the sunsets when its raining. We have a swell time. And I always get a big tip. But afterwards, oh oh...
    Veta Louise Simmons: "Afterwards, oh oh"? What do you mean, "afterwards, oh oh"?
    The Taxi Driver: They crab, crab, crab. They yell at me. Watch the lights. Watch the brakes, Watch the intersections. They scream at me to hurry. They got no faith in me, or my buggy. Yet, it's the same cab, the same driver. and we're going back over the very same road. It's no fun. And no tips... After this he'll be a perfectly normal human being. And you know what stinkers they are!

From the book Neckalce of Kisses:

  • "Just like any woman...We weave our stories out of our bodies. Some of us through our children, or our art; some do it just by living. It's all the same."--Lacey
  • Sometimes you fall, spinning through space, grasping for the things that keep you here. Sometimes you catch them. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes they catch you.

From the book The Road:

  • Where you've nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Response from friends?

So far I have had one friend respond to me privately regarding my last post. They were supportive beyond what I could hope for at this point, and even said, regarding memory loss, "...and to be perfectly frank, you're memory is already hyper-accentuated for some ungodly reason to almost superhuman levels." Why, thank you! That combined with the reading I've done that suggests the higher the intelligence of a person, the easier it is for them to adapt to memory loss, makes me hopeful. But still nervous. I'm wondering if the lack of response is because of fear of what to say to me, or fear of what may become of me, or disapproval, or just that people haven't got around to reading it yet.
Some suggested reading if you have the time:
Undercurrents by Martha Manning (Her depression was much like mine is and her description of it is the closest to what I would write if I could express myself better. It's also a cheap, easy and short read.)
Shock by Kitty Dukakis and Larry Tye (An easily read and bargain priced book which gives a thorough, obejective and up-to-date history alongside a personal account of depression and receiving the treatment.)
I highly recommend avoiding googling ECT as you will receive mostly the horror story, anti-ECT tirade websites that aren't always honest, up-to-date or realistic.
My mention of the "Church of Scientology" failed to explain that the reason they are likely so anti-psychiatry is that they sell a competing service under the guise of religion. It's all about the money trail, people.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Nine months later...

Nine months later...
No I didn't have a baby, I'm just horrible at journal keeping of any sort.
So much has happened, and yet not much of anything. I'm still not working. I'm now not seeing my friends much or leaving my house much. I've considered filing for disability but cannot bring myself to actually do it.
Now I'm considering ECT.
I had a second opinion doctor visit today with a well-respected EC doctor this morning. He says I'm a good candidate, but my original psychiatrist hasn't sent my records yet, even though he has had a month and various reminders to do so. So he's hlding me back. After this is over I will probably just switch to this new psychiatris, who I had seen years ago for a few med checks. He's more organized and he is in my insurance network, so I don't have to self-submit my receipts if I see him.

Some things about ECT you may not know:
  1. They give you muscle relaxants, general anesthesia and oxygen to prevent the bone-breaking and painfully awake seizures depicted in inaccurate movies and reduce memory loss .
  2. non-dominant unilateral ECT is now the norm as opposed to even 10 years ago when bilateral was still prevalent; this kind reduces much of the memory loss and personality changing of yore.
  3. Only 1/3-1/2 the amount of electricity is used in ECT as in a heart defibrillator.
  4. Only about 1/10 the amount of electricity is used now versus '40s-'70s version.
  5. ECT is as common as hysterectomy and twice as common as knee replacement.
  6. It is often the best depression treatment available to the elderly who cannot tolerate, take or respond to drugs and also has the highest success rate in the elderly.
  7. It is 80% effective in people with treatment resistant depression versus the 50-60% efficacy of medication for depression for the whole population of people with depression.
  8. It's the safest treatment for pregnant women w/depression.
  9. It has almost no physical side affects other than some soreness and stiffness the day of the treatment and maybe some nausea for a few hours afterwards if you have that reaction to general anesthesia--unlike every psych medication.
  10. Interestingly, most of the anti-ECT organizations are entirely funded by the "Church of Scientology" who also don't believe in psychiatric treatment of any kind.
  11. The "ECT industry" makes a profit of about $100,000 a year versus the $35 billion the pharmaceutical companies make and doesn't romance doctor's with pens, meals, gifts and trips to get them to sell their product.
  12. ECT begins to have an effect with the first treatment as opposed the months you can spend trialing one failed drug only to move onto the next.
  13. The waveform of the current, amount of electricity and duration are adjusted to each individual according to a complicated formula so it is totally personalized to your body and geared to the least amount of memory problems.
  14. Most short term memory problems clear up within about 6 weeks; long term memory problems are extremely rare.

These things are all reassuring to me as are the vibrant, intelligent and sane people whose books and articles I have read who went through ECT. I have been depressed since I was a child, have never gained more than just a tenuous foothold on it with medication and for the past 2 1/2 years I haven't even had that. I'm convinced this will save my life. I'm willing to trade the ability to remember my husband's bosses name or directions to the Dairy Queen for the possibility of enjoying my life for once in my life. I'm willing to trade even slightly more important memories for happiness or some semblance of it, as I already have for depression anyway. Depression has stripped away a lot of my long term memories, my short term memory abilities and my concentration skills---and the concentration skills I'll most likely get back fully if ECT works for me. Reading a book is so difficult for me the past few years, whereas I used to rip through up to 8 books a week before. I've been stripped of even that pleasure. I hate to admit this, but I haven't wanted or had sex in longer than I can remember--maybe 2 years? I want to want my husband again--even twice a year (his birthday and our anniversary,lol) would make me so happy. Even if I wanted to have sex right now, meds have reduced my lubrication and made me anorgasmic.

So now we wait for psychiatrist number one (PNO) to get his act together...

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