February 28, 2009
On Friday night, Mother and I watched the last hour of Godfather III. In the final moments where Michael Corleone can only open, but not make any sounds, with his mouth as he watches his daughter (Sofia Copolla’s character) dies, my mother began to tell me how only a parent can understand such sorrow of having to watch a child die. In this time of memory loss and utter confusion about life events, I suddenly remembered that February is a month when I had to call my parents six years before because I had to check myself into a psych. hospital for a suicide attempt that I made in my dorm room. It’s so weird that this second month of the calendar year has become the time that I’ve chosen to almost destroy my life, only to try to rebuild it almost exactly six years later. I’m fairly sure, in retrospect, that my parents were aware of this timing coincidence. And I have become aware, somehow through watching “the Godfather III” with one of them, that my past actions have hurt them more than I will ever know.
By virtue of this treatment, I guess I got some break from having to think about things that actually filled my mind at least one time of the year. It’s become slowly clear to me again what February had meant to me prior to this year. This time of the year would have brought up these painful memories that would have stirred my mind to think about those actions yet again. It’s now dawned on me how quite twisted my thought-process had become.
On the same American mob theme, my mother has lately become really interested in “The Sopranos” and we try to catch an episode on A&E daily. I do remember what happens to AJ’s character in the final episodes. I can certainly anticipate that she will have an emotional reaction when Adrianna gets killed or when Tony is in the hospital for an extended period. I can’t imagine how Mom will react when that episode, where AJ throws himself into that cold pool, is brought in front her. I haven’t “ruined” those episodes for her because the series would become less interesting, but also because I can’t bring myself to think about what happens to AJ. The ECT has made me realize what distance I had built between my parents, even extending to things like television shows.
February 25, 2009
Tomorrow I will have my first Dr. A. appointment since the ECT. I’m kind of excited to speak with her for the first time in at least a month. I don’t really know exactly what is a normal amount of memory loss after someone has 15 (!) courses of ECT treatments. Also, I need someone to assess whether this whole deal was actually successful. I cannot believe just how much information I have forgotten. Let me just admit just how much information I didn’t even realize I had written in my blog this whole time. Had I not kept such a log, I am not sure I would have had a solid, personal record of this part of my life. I also didn’t know I had written certain correspondences, electronic and otherwise, in the last month. I am relearning facts that I didn’t know I had to relearn.
February 24, 2009
I really can’t believe I didn’t remember that I had actually already bought these Christmas stocking hangers from Potterybarn when I went there a few weeks ago. Or how many times I had asked certain questions to my mother and sister in the time around the treatments. I kind of now wonder if the reason why I think I may be happier is because I’ve become quite a bit cognitively dumber…..okay, I’m joking a bit, but then again, I think I might be a bit serious.
It has been several days since my last treatment day, and I can openly say that I am a happier person. But I can also tell you that I don’t remember where the treatments took place nor can I recall the exact location upon looking up the physical address. I still have not regained my entire ability to speak Japanese, my very first language. Though I can understand what my mother is saying, I sometimes cannot respond to her in the language that I would like to respond. Sometime, my response come out garbled, between that of some Europeanized version of the Japanese language. If I performed a certain task within weeks prior to the treatments, it may as well be like never remembering doing those tasks at all. For example, I know I went to see Dr. J at his office, but I have absolutely no clue where that office is located. I seriously asked my sister what happened to Capt. Sullenberger’s airplane that got him so much attention (okay, the geese…..).
My goal for the next week or so is to explore what is going on within me as I try to put myself together post-ECT. I first need to watch President Obama’s address to the Congress. ..There’s more to write out so please bear with this little blog as I hope to look at what it is that I actually accomplished by going through this procedure.
February 20, 2009
I arrived at Parthenon Pavilion, got dressed for treatment, and entered the treatment area when Dr. J. greeted me with a smile on his face and told me that he talked to my psychiatrist, Dr. A., and that they both thought it was okay for me to stop ECT at this time and that I needed to call her to schedule a new appointment with her. (I exclaimed: this is the last one!?) Let me write the rest out later…
February 20, 2009
Another sine-wave machine day is drawn; that’s thirteenth treatments. I’m not sure it went over too well. When I woke up, I was tied up, all because I apparently flailed around during the convulsion. I will therefore be going through to the fourteenth treatment. I spoke with someone after the fact, that this could be my fifteenth and final treatment….fifteenth, as in about double the number.
February 17, 2009
The main thing I forget is the Japanese language, in bits and pieces. It’s odd that I really don’t have a problem with English. The hard thing is that when my mother speaks to me, I get stuck wanting to speak just English and cannot get a single sound out of Japanese. I will look at my sister and speak English. How odd is it that the one language I learned first is the first language to go??
Now that I’ve passed the 13th treatment, I’ve begun to wonder if my doctors are getting tired of caring for me for this amount of time. I hope it’s okay with them. I do wonder if my taking sleep aids cause my seizures to shorten. If that’s the case, I really need to stop taking the sleep aids so that I can finish up the seizures. I also need to figure out how many seconds the seizures lasted with the sine-wave machine. Really, I want someone to take some pictures of me having that seizure. Pictures aren’t the most appropriate pics to be getting, but I don’t plan on getting more ECTs after this time. ..
Today, I went to West Elm, the furniture store, to find some furniture pieces. It’s the first time in a long time that I actually got to go to a furniture store with my sister. One thing is a fact: I won’t be able to drive for at least another three weeks……
February 16, 2009
Twelve treatments are done. And at least three more via sine-wave machine days are on their way. This is already a few more days than the typical number of treatment days, in fact, way more days. I am thankful for my mother for staying an extra month. She is having to change around her own doctor’s appointments so that she can hang around with me. I will not be able to drive around for two weeks after the last ECT, so Mom will have to drive me around. My cat, Simon, is curled up and licking his white paws. He’s become a bit more needy since Mom’s been giving into more of Simon’s morning calls. There’s a part of me that would like to do something a bit artsy while I am involved in this ECT deal. I wonder if I could get someone to take a picture of me getting ready to be zapped. Or they’ll just think that request is a bit odd. (yes, that’s a bit odd.)
Dr. J. told me today that in the last session I kind of got disoriented and freaked out a little. I hope I didn’t create that scene this time around. I saw the Sine-wave ECT machine and it looks very much like a Samsonite cosmetic bag. I hope it worked better than it looked.
Dr. J. also arranged for a lithium medication tapering schedule! I hope that would allow for my hands to stop with the tremors. I’ve already had to see a neurologist, both instate and out, over the tremors, and I think it’s time to look at the lithium dosage before I have to go see another neurologist.
In case anyone wondered, I believe the median number of ECT is around 8. I have a feeling I will double that number….
February 13, 2009
Well, I am done with the 12th round of ECT….and Dr. J. has told me to expect at least a week’s worth of ECT. Not only that, the hospital is bringing in a completely different machine, called the sine-wave machine. Dr. J. and my regular psychiatrist decided that this particular machine will be able to reach my head. One thing I learned about the sine-wave machine is that it apparently does more damage to your cognitive skills. I already have a hard time speaking Japanese; having a worse time would be rather tricky.
February 12, 2009
Welcome to the 11th round of ECT….and not yet over. I think Dr. J. thought we could be done by the 10th round, but now 12th round is a sure deal. It’s odd to have people about my age observe my ECT. I guess they have to learn somehow, but it is a bit creepy. They’re getting to see stuff I’ve never seen!
I can’t quite tell if I feel immensely better, though watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann kept my interest, as did Margaret Carlson, a Bloomberg columnist. The main question I have to ask myself is, How do I know if I’m back to my old self? I found myself laughing out loud during President Obama’s speech he was giving in Illinois (something about secretary of commerce). My mother thinks I look really sad, which I partly disagree. I think I would look a bit tired if I were put through some flashes of light that causes a grand mal seizure. I think I should just be glad much of my language skills are still intact.
Dr. J. told me that he doesn’t remember diagnosing me with bipolar II disorder five years ago. I decided to leaf through an older journal, and I never quite knew how in despair I was at the time. I can’t find the main set of papers from when I was diagnosed, but I’ve written down the chain of events that would clear things up for him.
February 10, 2009
I think this may be the time to talk specifically about memory loss and ECT. It’s funny what leaves your head. For example, on the way to the hospital, I had absolutely no idea which turn to make first. Good thing I’m not allowed to drive right now. I am literally at a loss as to which turn to make at every point in the intersection even if I’ve been there a countless times.
Things you’re not even trying to remember leaves your mind. Another aspect of my mind that keeps leaving me is language, especially Japanese vocabulary. Whenever I’m trying to speak to my mother in Japanese, I have to pause for a minute and really think of the word I am intending on pronouncing. The words escape me, and I wonder why that is. Is it because I learned this language first?
Another thing I can’t seem to remember is where I bought any merchandise. I bought some stepstool at PotteryBarnKids last week, and even when I’m looking at it, I still can’t remember where it came from. What seems to be happening is that any pertinent information is bound to leave my mind. One thing I caught on television that I didn’t have to see is the episode “White Coat of Primer” on Six Feet Under. In the episode, they recreated the ECT scene for George, played by James Cromwell. It was quite vivid. I never knew it looked that graphic. My voyeuristic side would want someone to take a photo of my ECT, but then again that might be a bit creepy.
February 9, 2009
It is technically 4th and final week of ECT, but I’ve grown a bit annoyed by my progress and this development of tics and tremors. While Dr. J. couldn’t guarantee that the ECT will be a success, he thought that his titration method may come to pay off. Also, most people are able to have seizures lasting longer than 30 seconds whereas mine are about 25 seconds. On a separate note, he told me of a good Parkinson’s specialist in town that might be able to help my hands (Let me make a note here that I went out of state two years ago trying to get this problem resolved.)
Dr. H. put me to sleep and sometime later, I woke up hoarse and not at first “alive.” Nurse Jane eventually came to get me and on the way to get my post-vitals checked, I asked her the length of my seizure. “Well,” she says, “You had two seizures, one at 15 seconds and other at 23.” As I kept speaking to her, I realized that I was beginning to feel a lot better. It’s a bit odd. I get recommended a Parkinson’s specialist on the same day, and I’m not horribly down and out about it.
Later that night, I watched President Obama’s first press conference held in the East Room. For a while now, it’s been hard for these occasions to hold my attention, but I caught myself chuckling a little bit or listening intently. I can even profess my crush on Chuck Todd, the NBC political director/chief WH correspondent. Though I don’t feel quite whole, I must say, what a difference!
February 7, 2009
Sometimes, people perceive me to be younger than I am. To an extent, I understand why that happens. However, I get annoyed when a person speaks to me as if he is speaking to a child in need of some ‘sage’ advice. As the older gentleman wheels me out to the car, he compares my illness with that of his having to wear glasses. “You can’t look for perfect,” he says, “You just have to deal with it.” I get his point….but is having to wear glasses really like having to deal with a mental illness? I disagree with the fact that he thinks I don’t have perspective on my situation. If anything, I’m trying to be proactive by choosing to have ECT.
That said, as I ruminated over this matter, Paul McCartney comes on TV and starts singing “Let It Be.” For some reason, that song struck a chord with me. From listening to that song, I was instantly reminded to just let go of all the needless anger. Let. It. Be.
February 5, 2009
The hand tremors are back. I thought I already dealt with this situation. I’m glad Dr. J. had been made aware of my previous neurological issues from my regular psychiatrist. He reassured me that ECT may cure the tremors. As glad as I am to have the possibility of this issue solved, this just isn’t the time for me to be solving this little problem. I know plenty of other people who have way more to deal with, but I just am not up to taking on bunch of stuff at a time. Or one of the medications that shorten the seizure time is Alprazolam (xanax), which is taken to control the tremors. If I take Alprazolam, it also means I’m not maximizing my seizure time.
Today is the first time where I felt worse than before the treatment yesterday. When Allen from Parthenon Pavilion called me to check up on me, I can generally feign that all’s okay. Well, I could not even hold back an ounce of how I felt today. I really am a bit surprised as to how not-so-well I’m feeling. I know things could all change, but at the same time, things should have been incrementally better. I refuse be to one of the statistics where ECT didn’t work out so well…..that’s only like 15%!
On the real world MH front, NYTimes is reporting a rise in suicide rates in the Army .
February 4, 2009
When I woke up from the anesthesia, I felt as if all the joy that came flooding in the last two days had been wiped away clean. It’s about 4pm, and not a single bit of it is back. I don’t even want to watch Hardball with Chris Matthews. The memory of that joy is gone.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but this is not good. I’m trying to keep my hopes up, but this is really hard.
Just think good thoughts. Just think good thoughts. One odd thought: I can’t remember the faint taste of anesthesia.