Today is Day 1…..
This is the first of between 6 to 12 treatments of this mostly misunderstood, but extremely effective depression therapy; ECT.
Karen, my wife, has been a total rock throughout all of this. And by all, I mean; talk therapy, drug therapy and the side-effects that come with them, TMS, group therapy, and now ECT. She won’t be able to stay for each session, but for the first couple, the doc thought it was a good idea. For the remainder of the treatments, she will drop me off in the mornings (mondays, wednesdays, and fridays), and we will arrange for friends and family to pick me up. We had to find out what kind of shape I would be in after treatment.
I’m anxious about what’s going for reason I explained in the last blog entry. I’ve got all kinds of thoughts running through my head. What-ifs and buts….. I look around and I see that most of the patients are older than me; probably a median age of 70, and all women except one man. Some that are older have obvious mental deterioration along with physical deterioration.
I feel very out of place. Not just because of my age, but I also see that the other patients have gone so long in life before getting help that there is a lost look in their eyes that is kind of haunting. I wonder if in the future, patients will become younger. Maybe the age of the current patients comes from the stigmas and misunderstandings that have plagued depression and ECT until today’s more progressive views on life. It makes Karen and I wonder if we are doing the right thing. I’m the square peg for sure. I overheard the one male patient say that he was a V.A. MD before he retired. For some reason, that makes me feel better about being there. Maybe someone of his stature in life having to be there, somehow made me feel it was more ok, or that I wasn’t totally off the mark in taking this step in my recovery.
While I am distracting myself with a game on my iPad, a man walks in the waiting area that is clearly the husband of a patient. I can hear her in the hallway. He only stepped in to say hello to a couple of “the regulars” before leaving. He told them that she could’t have her treatment today because her blood pressure was too high. In the background, I can hear her extremely feeble voice asking when she can have her treatment. He snaps back at her saying, “I told you already. You can’t have your treatment. Now see how you acted?” It seems that he was using the treatment halt due to blood pressure to make her feel like she needed to “behave” like he tells her too. I can hear her voice her concerns, again so feebly that it was almost a whisper. I never saw her, but I imagine what she looked like. She was humiliated in front of everyone, whether she was aware of it or not.
This made me think back to The Faces of Depression. I have always thought of it as fighting the stigmas that the outside world puts on people. This guy clearly used her illness to mistreat her. It mad me question my own standing as an independent person in life. Would the doctors and nurses look at me as something less? Would my opinions about myself carry the same weight as it used to? Silly thoughts like wondering if the nurse could make me stop questioning the paperwork with a threat of not allowing me the treatment today. Maybe it’s silly or maybe it’s not. I think the staff there should be trained to step carefully and not allow a patient to feel like that, unless they actually are without their faculties. (but then who makes that determination?)
The procedure went pretty much like all other hospital outpatient procedures go. (90% waiting, and 10% action) One difference is that I’m able to keep my clothes on, and not have to wear one of those fashionable hospital gowns. The whole procedure only takes about 5 minutes. Once you’ve been prepped and waited the mandatory 90% of your stay, they bring you into the room that they perform in. They then knock you out, do the shock, and wake you up. It took about 30 minutes afterwards to fully come back to my senses and go home.
The shock itself interests me because of the mystery behind it. Medicademia (can I coin that term?), doesn’t really know why it works. I think it’s ironic that we humans have built these elaborate computers to do all these amazing things for us, and the answer to almost all the problems we encounter is to “reboot”. Maybe ECT is just a reboot. Or possibly a “wake-up”, but I like the irony of mankind building a computer in our own form that needs a reboot now and then in order to work right.
- My Journey through ECT- Countdown Day minus 1-July 5th
- My Journey Through ECT- Treatment 2 July 8