Wednesday, March 05, 2008

So things progress as such:

I ended up doing five ECT treatments. Two inpatient and three out. My psychiatrist--Dr. Tan--was a great man. Funny, warm, respectful. Everything you could want from the dude about to put you into a minute-long seizure. He actually seemed to like me and let me go home on the Friday after I checked in, rather than the next Monday as originally planned. Which was just what I had hoped for, as nothing freaks me out more than being locked in somewhere, especially with a bunch of nut jobs!
So here is how the treatment goes:
  1. You don't eat or drink after midnight the night before.
  2. You pee when you wake up.
  3. You have an i.v. put in--easy for some, tough for those with no veins, like me.
  4. You put on a hospital gown and booties and no undies. Yes, you may piss yourself.
  5. They wheel you into the o.r.
  6. The put the oxygen monitor on your finger, the b.p. cuff on your arm and another b.p. cuff on your ankle. (This cuff will be tightened during the whole procedure to prevent the paralyzing anesthetic from reaching your toes so they will twitch to prove to the docs that you are, indeed, convulsing.)
  7. The put electrical leads (EEG?? I think...) on various parts of your body to make sure your heart works well during the whole thing.
  8. They put the "zapper" electrical leads on your head. I vaguely recall that these went on your forehead and behind your ear. On this I could be mistaken; my memory is hazy on some things... I do know I ended up going with bilateral ECT rather than unilateral after a thorough discussion with Dr. Tan whose opinion I thoroughly respected and trusted. We talked about "titrated" doses, which I said was the only way I would do bilateral, and he understood.
  9. They put the oxygen/sleeping gas mask over your face and inject the paralyzing anesthetic into your i.v. The gas smelled annoying to me and the injection burned me somewhat. I think I fell asleep all five times going, "Oh, it burns, it burns.... it.... buuuuurrrrrr...... uuuuuhhhhhhhh......."
  10. Presumably I was then paralyzed and "zapped." The convulsion lasts somewhere around a half a minute or so. I think it's 15-60 seconds.
  11. I wake up in the recovery room with very sweet nurses monitoring my vitals. For some reason I displayed a fever after every treatment, which is not a normal aftereffect. My guess is that it has something to do with my inflammatory illness.
  12. They let me get dressed and go home.
  13. I was not allowed to drive on treatment days.

So did it work?

Well, I feel what I can only keep calling "normal." I am still having some depression and some anxiety. But I feel like these are acceptable and manageable levels of these problems and somewhat situational.

"Normal" for me: The other day I awoke before 9 a.m. (rather than 3 p.m.), took a shower, exfoliated, moisturized, did a full face cleaning routine, did my hair, got dressed in "real" clothes (not sweats or PJ's), put on jewelry (!!!) and lipstick (!!!!) and went out to do about a half a dozen errands. The whole time I kept thinking, "This is weird. This is really weird." But I later realized that, no, it was actually really really normal. Which, for me, was weird.

I have been have some cognitive and memory problems, but they are fading steadily, although they still bother me immensely. More, I am quite sure, than they might bother the average person. If you know me, then you know that my high intelligence and scarily impeccable memory are very important traits of which I am proud and which I depend upon.

The cognitive problems are things like not being able to think of a word or phrase, not being able to think of what the next thing I should do would be while following my daily routine--which I guess are actually memory problems as well. My other memory problems are more straightforward: I don't remember some stuff that happened in the weeks and months leading up to ECT and in the period afterwards. When--if--it comes back to me I become very frustrated in the realization that I forgot it to begin with.

I think I'll end here for now. More will follow as I know many of my friends and family want to know more about the whole shebang.

"About suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters: how well they understood Its human position; how well it takes place While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;"

1 comment:

Vicki said...

I'm glad you're noticing concrete improvements. Return on (emotional/physical) investment is important--it reaffirms that you did the right thing. I'm sending you a package tomorrow or Friday. Be on the lookout!

You might also like these:

Related Posts with Thumbnails