Posts tagged ‘shock therapy’

May 13, 2011

ECT #38 (my 23rd maintenance treatment)

My maintenance ECT treatment was yesterday, and since my parents are in town, they took me to the psychiatric hospital where I have ECT. I always feel awkward when they are the ones having to take me there, probably because it’s like giving them clear evidence that something is wrong with me—-at least wrong enough to have to take their daughter to a psych hospital. A part of me feels embarrassed, even though I’ve been through this nearly forty times. I just feel bad for my parents that they are having to do this for me. I acted like nothing was the matter, and when we got to the reception desk, I asked them if they wanted free breakfast from the hospital cafeteria. Then, I was whisked away to the inside.

One good news: because of the new parity laws, I get insurance coverage again for mental health stuff! I do wish someone told me about it since i’ve been doing this sans insurance for a while now,  but better late than never…

Otherwise, it’s mostly the usual. I get to the waiting room, use the bathroom, put on the gown and get my vitals checked. They weighed me, and I realized that I’ve gained over 30 lbs. since a little while ago. Then they usher me to the treatment area where they lead me to my bed/stretcher. The usual anesthesiologist wasn’t there, but Dr. F., my ECT psychiatrist came up to me to chat for a little bit. He said that I’ll be having the procedure a few more times but that it is coming to an end.  I’m happy to hear that, but at the same time, I’m very anxious. What if this is what’s been keeping me alive for the last two years. I remember the hiatus we took after the first set of ECT, and it was really horrible. I don’t want to experience that again. I said ok to Dr. F. and they almost immediately put me out, but I’m left with a feeling that I can’t quit this treatment.

January 20, 2011

ECT #36: (my 21th maintenance treatment)

I had my 36th electroconvulsive therapy treatment today. I usually have the procedure every six weeks or so, but with being of town and other scheduling issues, it’s been at least two months since I had my last one.  I was the first ECT patient to arrive when I got to the hospital, so the staff set me up in the treatment room without realizing that my doctor, Dr. F, couldn’t actually come over for a while. So, with the cannula already in my arm, I laid in the bed for a good hour before he came.

Before giving me that ‘little spark,’ Dr. F checked in with me to see if I’m doing okay. I didn’t necessarily feel depressed, but I felt tired (perhaps still from my trip), so all I could tell him was I was doing okay. He made me rate my mood on a scale from 1-10 and asked me couple other things. Then, he asked me, “Do you think this is helping?”

I said yes at the time, but to be really honest, I can’t really tell anymore. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a life without having ECT, so I don’t really know what would happen if I decided to stop having them. I used to slip back into depression as it got around to the next ECT–maybe this little spark is sustaining my mood a little longer.

Usually I feel good immediately after the treatment, but today, even Nurse J told me that I looked really tired. And she was right. I ended up taking a long nap when I got home. Did it have more to do with the fact that I didn’t sleep well last night? I just don’t know.

My next ECT is in six weeks. Will I keep my appointment? Stay tuned…

August 29, 2010

ECT at-a-glance

in Louisville Courier-Journal 8.29.10

The above info box was published along with the article “Controversial Shock Therapy Back for Severe Depression,” written by Laura Unger and  published in Louisville Courier-Journal today. There’s not necessarily anything new in the article, but it does quote Dr. Peter Breggin, a physician noted for his opposition to ECT, saying that ECT is a “closed-head lobotomy.”

I guess an article about ECT can’t escape from talking about the opposition viewpoint. It’s just that we don’t ever seem to question the potential complications that might arise from other surgeries, such as organ transplants—where we’re literally opening the person up and taking out someone’s organ from his/her body and then putting someone else’s organ back in. Doesn’t that sound a bit dangerous, too?

January 19, 2010

ECT One Year Later

It was a year ago today that I underwent my first electroconvulsive therapy.Though I don’t remember everything, I can still recall the nervousness I felt throughout my body as I was first led to the ECT room. It was supposed to be a six-to-twelve time event, but it somehow stretched to fifteen, and now, to twenty-five. A year ago I was really scared about how things were going change after these treatments. What I find now is that it’s not so much that things have changed as much as the fact that I can now realize that things are okay as they are.

So, where am I now? I’m currently in school studying sociology and have a part-time job. I haven’t spent too many days hidden under the covers, and I’ve been pretty good about taking care of my body, whether by bathing or otherwise. All these little things matter, but the biggest change from last year is that I’m actually alive. I mean, last January, my body may not have been dead but I had stopped living a life and had planned on really dying by the following month. For months, that was my only plan. Though I do not have concrete goals and plans at the moment, I don’t find myself considering suicide as a logical option.

I do give much credit to ECT for getting me to where I am today, but I must acknowledge that without support from my family, I would have never been able to go through this procedure. (My mother left the country, with my father left at home, and stayed with me for three months so that she can take me every other day to these treatments.) Also, I thank everyone, whom I know and don’t know, who sent me notes of encouragement throughout the year. It is so easy to think that only you exist in your journey, but I am constantly reminded that I am not alone. And then, there’s my “Dr. Melfi.” She is the one who advised that I give ECT a try, and without her guidance, I doubt I would be alive.

I am thankful, but am I no longer depressed? I don’t know. I am not sure at what point I am declared “normal.” I still have my ups and downs, though they occur as fleeting moments rather than debilitating crises. I am often in a state of self-reflection, and I wonder to what extent such is connected to an illness and what’s just who I am. What I can say for myself is that I think I’m doing okay, which doesn’t sound all that great, but to me, it’s a huge accomplishment. I still don’t know what it means to be ‘happy,’ but perhaps I’m on that road to find out.

I suppose there’s more to say, but I can save it for later entries because I plan on being around to write them.

My house is still messy, but I guess that’s just me being me. Maybe I’ll learn to clean as I learn to live one day at a time.

September 16, 2009

ECT #21 (my sixth maintenance treatment….and the 200th post)

The sky is gray, and rain is pouring down. But my mind and mood feel clear.

Today was my 21st electroconvulsive therapy. It was also a day for some students to get to observe people having ECT. I’ve been clearly the youngest person receiving the treatment every time I’m there, and therefore very close to the age of the students watching me. I wonder what it’s like to be watching someone your own age going through something like this. Anyway, things seem to have gone smoothly, with my seizure lasting 41 seconds. It did take a little while after the ‘little spark’ to recall information like what class I’m taking or when those classes were. But those bits and pieces about my life are slowly coming back (thank goodness).

I am amazed how familiar this procedure has become for me, and it’s odd how I’ve almost fallen into thinking that this is all normal and routine. Then I’m jerked back into the reality that there’s nothing normal and/or routine about ECT. Even if I feel that way, I have to tell myself that that’s not the way it is for people around me, like for my family. They are scared every time I have the procedure. Perhaps my calmness comes because I know firsthand how this all works. But there is much more uncertainty and waiting for them. My mother asked me how much longer I will be going through this maintenance ECT. I wish I could tell them that all of this will be over with soon, but honestly, there is no end in sight at this moment. A nurse did remind me today that as long as I’m getting better, the number doesn’t matter. While as much as I realize I’m doing this for myself, a part of me does wish I could tell them that they could soon stop worrying.

On a separate note, this is my 200th post. (Have I written that much stuff?) This journal has been an outlet for me that I am so glad I have had throughout this time. And I hope this will continue to help me on this road of recovery.

January 9, 2009

Finding a little spark

It sure took a while for me to pick a simple web-journal name that doesn’t sound so, well, depressing. I actually liked “the last option,” because that’s kind of what it is (Having trying 20+ different meds should count as having tried a lot of options). But I suppose the ECT is not just the last option but it could be the first time in a long time to actually feel alive, which by the way, I can’t really recall what it’s like to not want to die all the time.

So, I thought “a little spark” is appropriate in several ways, first of which is that it makes ECT sound kind of magical, rather than “you’re going to have a grand mal seizure and will experience some memory loss.” Second, a spark often starts something, like a sparkplug, or a spark that will give one a brilliant idea.  It’s that little spark that I guess I need in order to get a new life, and my little spark that’ll give me that life is actually going to come by means of a little spark (or at least 6 to 12 of them) in my head. Sounds a bit cutesy, and I’m not sure I quite believe what I’m writing. But just because I don’t believe it doesn’t mean I don’t want to believe it.

Btw, after I picked my little journal name, I found that there is a quote by Dante with that phrase: “From a little spark bursts a mighty flame.” And though I write in this tone in my personal, paper-form journal, this exercise in writing on the web feels ridiculously self-indulgent.

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