Posts tagged ‘ECT psychiatrist’

July 23, 2009

ECT #18 (maintenance ECT #3)

My mother came into town (well, country) just yesterday, and what does she get to do first thing today? Take her daughter to ECT. Somehow it’s become some sort of a routine for her to take me to the psych hospital whenever she’s here. What a lovely mother-daughter activity.

I’ve been concerned about the decline in my mood since the treatment two weeks ago, and I somehow wanted to express that to my doctor.   Thankfully, my ECT psychiatrist Dr. F was back from vacation, so we chatted for a bit before the procedure. Seeing that I’m a little better at just writing stuff out rather than talking, I wrote him a note about how I just wanted to evaporate into the sky while I was overlooking the landscape from the airplane. He told me that because the last ECT did make me feel better for a while, as I have more treatments, my suicidal inclinations should dissipate. “You’re still young,” he assured me. I must say that his calmness and smile actually made me feel somewhat encouraged. I’m grateful that he’s my ECT doctor and that he’s still working even though he’s in his 70s.

Before I was given my shot of Brevital, the anesthesia, for the first time, the nurse put the electrode headband around my head. I had actually never seen how the currents were administered to my head. With the new machines, it’s just two patch-like electrodes, but because they’re using the sine-wave machine on me, they are wrapping an old-fashioned device on me (my headband looks even older than this one).

And next thing I know, I’m awake.

As I was wheeled back to the prep room to get my stuff, the nurse let me know that I had a 50-second seizure. Hooray. It’s all because I’ve halted taking alprazolam (Xanax), she said. I’m hoping that the longer seizures will lead to a better outcome.

It’s a relief when I can say that I feel better after the ECT. The question now is, how will I hold up until my next ECT two weeks from now?

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June 23, 2009

The Assessment (part 2)

…continued from “The Assessment (Part 1)….

I wait some more in the bare room, painted with some odd, hospital green color up to the chair rail (or some sort of padded rail), and then cream for the rest. I don’t know why they bothered with the wallpaper border that was placed near the ceiling.

Dr. F finally walks in. I stand up, and we politely introduce ourselves to each other. I had been told by Dr. A that he was in his 70s, but his age is not apparent at all from his looks. I don’t know what I expected – perhaps nothing at all – but he’s only somewhat taller than I am, and he has on a tie and a jacket, no white coat.

It starts on an awkward note. “So, you had ECT three years ago,” says Dr. F. “No, it ended in late February,” I tell him. Instead of the dates of my outpatient ECT, he had been given a chart that had my last hospitalization date, which had been three years ago. I guess he hadn’t read my file. He asks me a little more about how long I had been out of ECT, if I thought it helped, and when the depression came back. I think the depression came back about two months ago, I reply, and to that, he notes to me, “so the effects only lasted for two months.” I hadn’t really done the math until then. I put my hands over my month to say to myself, “That was it? Two months?”  Fifteen treatments to have only two months of ceasefire of some sort? It is at this point when my mind begins to wonder if I am really making the right call.

The evaluation goes on. Dr. F mostly asks me questions that were similar to the ones asked by the assessment person. At one point, he does say to me that I don’t look depressed. I end up having to explain that I never come across as a depressed person. This is one of those comments I probably should’ve expected. The thing is, if I’m outside of my home, I try to look fine. And most will agree that they’d never know I have some mental disorder just from looking at me. But I become almost uncomfortable with that comment because I’m generally afraid people are skeptical to the nature of the illness or can’t really see beyond my exterior. Now I’m afraid that Dr. F’s initial perception of me from the exterior has skewed this assessment. I now question to myself if the indifference I feel is just part of being human or if it’s even depression. I lose confidence in the answers that I have about my own self, because I can’t tell if I am right about how I’ve viewed and felt the last month or so. Have I painted an inaccurate picture of my very self? Am I labeling certain behaviors as “symptoms” when they’re just me being me?

I get through the questions somehow, and Dr. F begins to talk about the treatment itself. As he talked, it dawns on me that he is expecting for me to have ECT once-a-week for at least the next few weeks, and then tapered very gradually to twice-a-month, etc. Though Dr. A and I’ve discussed the idea of maintenance ECT, as in having it once-a-month or so, we’ve been focused on just this single treatment. One Treatment only. He explains to me that this is how a tapering schedule works and that this is probably what Dr. A had in mind. I am not sure what to say. All I could do is nod while looking shocked and confused. I do manage to get across to Dr. F that I hadn’t expected to hear what he had just said.

By the end, I am caught totally off-guard. He wraps up the evaluation with some remaining questions. He tells me those are all the questions he had for me, gets up, shakes my hand and leaves.

I tug on my hair hard as I walk out the hospital door and to my car. Later in the afternoon I am home, and I google about this ‘tapering schedule’ that Dr. F had talked about. In all my readings that I had done, I must have missed reading more carefully about maintenance ECT, because the procedure he talked about is so clearly written out in the clinician books and ECT program web sites. How could I have totally missed reading all this info?

I now am not sure about a thing.

January 19, 2009

the first little spark

It was like pulling my car into a gas station, except in this case, car equals me. The room had seven beds, divided by a checkered hospital curtain (the person next to me thought the colors reminded her of a Mexican restaurant). The nurse asked me to wear a “vest” that allowed her to loosely tie my body to the bed in case I try to get out of the bed later and fall off. Then, someone inserted an IV, followed by my ECT psychiatrist, who was wearing some sort of a track suit. I saw him for about 30 seconds, just to tell me happy new year and that I will be receiving unilateral ECT for today (less memory loss, according to some) .  Then, the anesthesiologist spoke to me for about 10 seconds. There’s no countdown.

And then, I woke up. It was already over.

My head still hurts, and there’s some hardened gel in my hair from where they placed the electrode.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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