My Journey Through ECT- Treatment 2 July 8

Treatment Number 2….

The second treatment was one of reflection, wonder of the future, and more keenly noticing my surroundings.  I was much more prepared for what was to come since I had experienced at least one time before.


It didn’t fully dawn on me until the night after the first treatment, that I had some anesthesia problems with the first visit.  As I was waking from the first treatment, I realized that I couldn’t breathe.  I could hear my surroundings, but couldn’t move either.  I felt as if I were drowning; like my lungs were filled with liquid and I couldn’t suck any air into them at all.

I heard the staff in the procedure room talking, and one said, “it looks like he’s trying to breathe.”  All I wanted to do was yell, “I AM trying to breathe, #$^@ing help me!!”  I was totally panicking, but no one knew because the paralytic (muscle relaxer) had not worn off yet.  Slowly I began to gasp for air and fight through it and was able to breathe again.  It seemed like 5 minutes, but it was probably only 30 seconds.  That doesn’t make it any less scary.  Later I found out that the muscle relaxer is supposed to wear off before the anesthesia.  That way, your body can naturally react to having to start breathing on its own again (which is the normal procedure after being intubated), but you are supposed to be “out of it” so you don’t remember having to gasp for air.  Someone that I was retelling the story to, pondered if that was what water-boarding was like.  After all, I was never in any danger of dying, but that didn’t stop me from feeling like I was drowning in my own phlegm.

I have also noticed the short-term memory problems that Emory has warned me warned about beforehand.  I don’t forget who I am, or how to get home, or anything.  It’s more like hearing the laundry buzzer go off and my phone ring at the same time.  I go to grab my phone before heading to the laundry room, but once I have my phone, I forgot that I was headed to get laundry as well.  That’s not too far off from where I started, so it’s not that big of a deal. 🙂


I saw almost all of the same staff, with few differences.  Everyone is extremely pleasant and positive.  That’s probably a must in that particular part of the hospital’s outpatient business.  I also saw many of the same patients.  I haven’t gotten to know anyone, but I look at them and can imagine their lives and what they have been through.  I’m not claiming to be some sort of mystical empath, but I would bet that I’m not too far off the mark, as it looks to be written on their faces.  I suppose in here, there is no reason to have the other face to put on; as in The Faces of Depression. (cheap plug and re-link)

One new man was in there this time.  He was probably 70-75.  He reminded me of the elder Howard Hughes character in the movie.  He had a scruffy white stubbly-beard with darker hair on his mustache, dark eyes, slender (almost gaunt), and showed signs of Parkinson’s.  That’s a total generalization on my part.  He was shaking, let’s just say that.  He also spoke to himself.  As I listened to him, I realized that he was speaking to himself as if the speaker and listener were two different people.   As thoughts crossed his mind, he would comment on happenings around him and needs he had.  For example, he said “There she goes down the hallway”, as a nurse left to go somewhere.  Later he commented, “Can I can go to the bathroom?”  It was as if he was asking himself permission, and not the full-time nurse that was sitting beside him.  It was fascinating to watch. I’ve always had a fascination with the brain and how it can almost live a separate life that the body it belongs to, whether that’s in a dream state, or a state or mental illness that doesn’t recognize the world around.

Background-SkyWonder of the Future

Today was the day after treatment number 2.  They put an I.V. in you and hang a saline bag for the procedure.  I’m not sure where half of that bag goes, since none of it comes out, but it must get me extremely well-hydrated.  This morning I went to hot yoga.  I normally sweat a lot anyway, but after one of these treatments, I am a little waterfall of sweat.  As I was in triangle pose, I could hear the sweat dripping off the bottoms of my completely soaked shorts.  Any pose that has me bend forward just asks for a torrent of water to come off my head, neck, and face and drip with enough force that I think it may bother those around me.  I know it’s gross, but I have to get it out somehow!

So far I don’t feel much mental change.  At least I don’t think I do.  It will probably be one of those things that once enough change has happened, I will look around and wonder how I go way over here.  I did sleep better last night……and yesterday afternoon.  Almost 12 hours of sleep!  And it was good sleep I think.  I didn’t wake up clenching my teeth, or having nightmares, or remembering things that happened in 5th grade and letting those events play like a broken record in my head over and over and over.  I woke up feeling like I actually got a restful night’s sleep.  It’s nice for a change.  Depression and anxiety make people think of someone moping around all depressed with the “woe is me” look on their face all the time.  And for some of the time, that is definitely the case.  But for me, it also keeps me from sleeping regularly and restfully, it takes away the passions that I felt for many things as if they were passing fancies, and worst of all, it brings a fog down around my head so that I can’t see a passage to a better place.  That last part is hard to explain, but I will try to give a little better understanding for you anyway. When most people are faced with a difficult situation in life (loss of a job, and argument with anyone, or a call for a change in the direction of your life for whatever reason), there are usually options that spring forward as options.  From there, you work through which is the more viable fit for this time in your life, and you cultivate that until you’re back in a position of stability.  Depression keeps me from having that ability.  Instead of seeing the initial glimmers of possibilities of next steps in life, all I see is fog.  In every direction.  Only fog.

I am in no way whining about my situation.  On the contrary, I have spent the last 6 years taking responsibility and really concentrating on fixing this, or at least bettering it. ECT (ElectroConvulsive Therapy) is simply a step that I have been vocal about.  Due diligence has not been skipped!  I won’t settle for less than what most would consider a normal life.  One with ups and downs and happiness and sadness.  Right now, I can’t feel the upsides at all.  So maybe this “reboot” of my brain will be the spark that ignites me back into a place that I can join the ranks of the walking-living.


Feel free to comment on my blog entries and subscribe to the website so you can get new entries sent directly to you.  Just because I have figured out my next step, doesn’t mean that one of you won’t help me develop another step after this that will take me closer.  All feedback and comments are welcomed; positive or negative. I don’t need to be handled with kid gloves, I need some honest feedback from those that care enough to comment.  Thanks in advance.  Lee

6 thoughts on “My Journey Through ECT- Treatment 2 July 8

    1. admin Post author

      Wow! A mentor. That’s quite a compliment. Turning a bad situation into a good one is prob good for you both. Congrats!

  1. James

    Although I do not know much about depression,so I am not qualified to step in, so to speak, But I am interested and find it fascinating how you are able to articulate your feelings. I think this might be a key to getting through this. I applaud your self-help and sharing.

  2. dawn ferrara

    Lee, you are doing a brave and wonderful thing with this blog. People hold in so much on so many levels. To express yourself the way you are will help so many people. Thank you.

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