March 9, 2009
As I write about having to go through these medical procedures, I almost forgot that my journey to better health doesn’t end at just getting the necessary clinical care from the medical community. It is, in fact, far from over. One’s health care experience just isn’t complete until you get through getting all that paper from your insurance company, that is, if you’re privileged enough to have insurance.
But having health insurance doesn’t always mean that you are really covered enough to go see a health-care professional at any time. I was reminded about this upcoming portion of my HC trip when I picked up this week’s copy of TIME magazine. A lone prescription bottle stands against a stark-white cover, and next to it, a question: So You think You’re Insured?
This cover story, “Health-Care Crisis Hits Home,” written by national political correspondent Karen Tumulty, tells the story of the state of the current US health insurance system by sharing the experience that her brother, Pat, had to endure as he dealt with a diagnosis of kidney failure as well as his health-insurance company. Though I thankfully have not gone through a situation of Pat’s gravity, the story hit a little close to home with me because I pay for an individual health insurance that is not connected to any employer, which means my monthly premium is well over $300 with a really high deductible.
Each ‘little spark’ may be a life saver, but every spark comes at a cost, both physically (in this case, cognitively) and financially.
My statements haven’t come in yet from the hospital. I did, however, get my E.O.D. (Explanation of Benefits) for Dr. J’s part of the procedure. It was interesting to notice that each electric service cost was billed at about the same amount as my single therapy session. And it seems that my insurance company was much more eager to cover my receiving a jolt to the head than my sitting on the couch.
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….
January 6, 2009
I happened to have read books that contained info on ECT long before I thought I’d be in that room. Instead of just staring at the Dolphins/Ravens game, I thought I might just flip through a couple of books with some ECT cites. I read Martha Mannings’ memoir, Undercurrents, that chronicles her days leading up to and out of ECT. Then there’s The Bell Jar. (I’ve always been intrigued by Plath’s and Sexton’s works, but it’s so hard to look up to them when they both die the same way) They were very good reads, but I have to say that at my point in this game, their insights only that: insights. If anything, everything that might happen during and after ECT can be put into words but what it feels can never really be captured. I guess I will know what it feels like to be through ECT in less than two weeks, but I realized that I can’t grasp these effects. I get that I will experience confusion and some potential loss of memory, but I don’t know what that really feels like. I read these words on the pages of Manning’s book about how she forgot that her sister had come to see her the day before, or the time she nearly gets lost in the hospital corridors, or the increasing sense of anxiety that comes as she is about to begin yet another session. These recounts sound bad, but just how bad do these episodes feel when one’s actually experiencing them? Reading parts of their works again made me feel a little (but not too) hesitant when thinking about ECT.
Oh, so when the media does countdown to Obama’s inauguration, the numbers almost coincide with the start of my ECT.
January 3, 2009
So, here it goes. Perhaps a public bearing of my personal issues is totally unnecessary, but I need to document it, mostly for my own sake, but because it was quite hard to find a concise set of materials when I first began researching about ECT (electroconvulsive therapy/electroshock therapy) to have a chance of be able to be awakened from a life that already feels dead to me. Okay, so this is a little project of mine to keep me occupied from doing something stupid in the next two weeks. This ‘waiting game’ before the first jolt to my head is becoming very hard. At any other time, my medication may have been tweaked or at least something would have been altered a bit to see if I can get out of this depression. But because this potential ultimate ‘savior’ is coming soon, there’s almost nothing to be done, except to stay alive. I’m trying hard not to drown, very hard. All I have the energy to really do is shove food into my month, sleep and watch “House” marathon–and even that’s not all that interesting to me anymore. I’ve begun to make myself go shopping for stuff at the mall even though I really don’t need to be spending the money that I’m not making. I usually love the colors and great sales, but it’s just not that enjoyable. Then again, it’s hard to love things when all I would love to be doing is to drop dead. But looking for a cute cashmere hoodie and a nice bench for my window-area just might keep me from looking to die somehow.
I really can’t see my life beyond the two more weeks that I have before the ECT. It’s even hard to think beyond a day or so. But my choice to create a little public journal is for me to make this countdown a time for me do more than just sit and pet a cat. I guess I can now sit, pet a cat, and write something of value. I suppose I’m trying to live in a ‘literal’ sense even if I say that I don’t want to live at all.
It’s T minus sometime around 15th and the 19th. Happy new year, and let the countdown begin.