Posts tagged ‘ECT tips’

July 8, 2009

ECT Lessons-I’ve-Learned #4: Write ’em down!

  • When I went through ECT the first time around, I wrote down my passwords to the various online accounts that I have on a sheet of paper. This advice came from the book Shock by Kitty Dukakis and Larry Tye. It’s a great safeguard measure, and it was probably good to have my memory refreshed about those passwords anyway.
  • Keep a record of what you did each day during your ECT series. I think my main reason why I was able to remember a lot of the events surrounding my ECT treatments is because I wrote stuff down. Even just writing down your mood may be helpful in tracking how you are doing.
  • If there’s something you’re supposed to remember (even if you remember at that moment), write it down.

Lesson #1
Lesson #2
Lesson #3

May 8, 2009

ECT Lessons-I’ve-Learned #3: Look pretty for the occasion

This sounds downright silly, but this is something that mattered to me.

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Though the hospital’s ECT guideline said otherwise, the staff allowed me to wear toenail polish. Only thing I can do to make my feet look decent is by painting on some bright color on those toes. I wanted them to look like my legs were prepared for sandal season. So, I picked a lovely deep-red color named “London Bridge is Falling Down.” (I already had this polish in my stash so didn’t bother buying some new color). But if you’re so inclined, you could pick a color name that is appropriate to this moment in your life. It’ll be like an expression of emotions on your nails!

Also, make-up is totally allowed! So, keep up with your daily skin regimen and look your best, because your face will be seen by  all those medical students that line up and stare at you as you’re being put to sleep. A little concealer goes a long way in covering up the little bumps you get if your skin reacts to the gel they put by your hairline. Blush or a touch of shimmer just might add a healthy glow to your face.

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Obviously, I’m joking a bit here and all of this seems totally trivial, but I needed something about myself that I liked during those five weeks, even if it was just the color of my toenails. Feeling pretty wasn’t the objective in getting a little dolled up. Putting on make-up before the ECT just allowed me to keep the same morning routine. A part of me was able to emotionally distance myself for a minute just before the reality that I’m about to have my head shocked. I also wanted to have just the same face on that I have when I go out of the house, including when I’m out for some electroconvulsive therapy. (One could argue that a bare face would show the doctors the ‘real’ you that they need to see.) Sure, call it a mask to hide the fact that my face isn’t really glowing from happiness, but surely, the doctors can’t be fooled by some bare minerals.

Small privileges sometimes mean a whole lot, so if a little eyeliner and gloss can contribute to a perceived sense of  near-normalcy, there’s no harm done.

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May 3, 2009

ECT Lessons-I’ve-Learned #2: Wear a short-sleeved t-shirt

I don’t know if this is allowed at all ECT programs, so please check with your respective hospitals about the following.

Maybe this stuff doesn’t matter to everyone. It’s one of those things that made my life a little easier every time I went to the hospital.  After all, I had to do the same routine 15 times. Anyway, the one thing my nurse told me was that I didn’t have to strip down and change into only a hospital gown if my top was short-sleeved or no-sleeved. The reasoning for the short-sleeve deal is so that the nurses will to be able to put the catheter in your arm.  I still had to wear a gown over my shirt, but it felt  a little bit more casual to get to wear my own clothing.

A totally random tip, but not having to strip down every time I went to ECT was kind of nice. The rest of the time isn’t all that fun, so why not make some things easier for yourself?

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May 1, 2009

ECT Lessons-I’ve-Learned #1: Importance of Social Support

I just finished having lunch with “Robin,” a friend. Well, she’s much more than a friend. She taught the very first class I ever attended in college. In all, I took three courses from this professor of sociology. I think I was always inclined to study something like sociology, but having taken her course (Women and Work in the US) in the beginning really steered me to pick that field as my major. Also, she was really the first person to expose me to feminism and what it meant to be a feminist. Robin really is my mentor.

I rarely go out with a group of friends or, well, have fun in that manner mostly because I really don’t have that many friends. But the support from the friends that I do have has been incredibly important during this period. (Note: this entry doesn’t cover just how crucial my family’s hands-on support has been while I was in treatment.) I needed ‘real’ people outside of my doctor’s office that did not mind engaging in conversations about my health — and also gets you out of the house for lunch, coffee or whatever. Robin is one of the few people whom I can share personal issues but look at them from a sociological perspective. Heck, the only person that’s visited me in the hospital twice in the last six years has been Robin. She was also one of the very first people I told that I was going to undergo ECT (I remember I ran into her at a Roy Blount Jr. lecture around the same day I had told her about the ECT. She gave me a huge hug. I was really scared then.) It’s been really nice that I can tell her something given that she knows me well enough to know what I was talking about. After all, I took my first course with her in 1999 and have had office hour meetings and many conversations with her since.

Another friend who’ve met me for coffee before and after the little sparks also happens to be a sociology professor. (Is it kind of odd that some of my semi-confidantes have actually been two sociology professors? ) The other day I came across a set of papers that I wrote for her class Race, Gender & Health. It was really the first time I documented much of my illness experience (along with those of other interview subjects) and wrote something that intertwined the personal and the academic. Having written those papers profoundly changed the way I view and write about my illness and the events that have come with it. She is also the one person that has always encouraged me to write.

The point is, having a core group of people, no matter how small, who you know are willing to support you before, during and after ECT is really important in helping create an atmosphere that will guide you to better health. You don’t have to see them all the time, but knowing that their support is there helps immensely.  Even if ECT is the main component to this restructuring process, the other parts do matter greatly.

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