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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