so I've been MIA since forever ago, and i'd like the chance to explain why. Since January, and all the turmoil with my Oma, my health has taken a serious downturn. It got to the point where my medications stopped having any effect, and nothing my doctors were suggesting was bringing me out of my depression. I can't explain it, rather then to say I feel heavy. Physically too, but mostly mentally and emotionally- just heavy. Like breathing is hard.
I took it upon myself to start the year right. The minute we got back from Germany I started eating right and running 2 hours everyday. You know where it got me? nowhere. My medication has a stranglehold on my metabolic rate, and instead of losing weight and getting in shape, I put on another 5 kilograms. And I am like 5 foot bugger all, so that's a crap ton, especially on top of what I spent last year putting on. I just feel like i'm trapped in a hamster wheel going round and round and getting absolutely nowhere. And I am sick of doctors telling me I "just have to try". I just got back from the hospital about an hour ago and today's advice was "drink more water and you'll lose weight". Sometimes i'm not that surprised that I have detailed fantasies about doctor slapping.
Anyway, my meds weren't, and aren't working. So my doctor gave me a couple of options. ECT/ Electroconvulsive therapy or a Ketamine infusion. I chose the former, though lord knows when the latter will be back on the table. So what is ECT? You're put under general anesthetic. Through electrodes on the scalp, an electric current is passed through the scalp to cause a brief seizure in the brain. You're given a muscle relaxant prior to treatment to limit the seizure to slight movements of your hands and feet. Now typically you wake up like 15 minutes to a half hour later and apparently don't remember the ECT or the events directly preceding. I say 'typically' and 'apparently' because I've now been through 10 (yes, ten) ECT sessions, and have yet to forget anything.
I'd love to do some forgetting actually. I'm one of those people who is very hard to put under, on account of no one being able to find my veins. Today, for example, it took 5 different needles and 5 separate tries before someone managed to get a vein. The highest the count has gone up to was 8, and that included 3 punctures in my feet. As you can imagine, it's a trying experience. They're holding you down, and people are poking into you with sizeable needles, while someone else has an oxygen mask clamped over your nose and mouth. I'd liken the feeling to claustrophobia. Pain and claustrophobia- that's what I remember from before the ECT.
Apparently (again) people can wake up feeling nauseated and vomit-inclined, but I've been fine in that respect. I've done my treatments as an out-patient, so I've always woken up and gone home afterwards.
I'm going to complete a course of 12 treatments, and then reassess. I don't know what happens if this doesn't work out. I really don't fancy undergoing another course of ECTs anytime soon. If any of you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments. I'm happy to answer whatever I can. If you're considering ECT or undergoing it yourself i'd love to hear about your experience. The main point I want to drive home is that a modern ECT is not like some Frankenstein scene. You are literally out for the count during the procedure, and you barely feel any side effects afterwards. I had people telling me that I was going to turn schizophrenic if I underwent an ECT, and that is simply not the case. I'm not saying it's something to enter into lightly. Not at all. It is still GA, and it is still an electric current and your brain.
Consider carefully. Talk to your doctor. Get second and third opinions. Think long and hard about how you're feeling and if any of your meds are having tangible effects or not. Exhaust all your options, but at the end of the day, if all roads lead you to ECT, don't be afraid. You are not alone. You can always come talk to me (and countless other people, obviously, but I can only speak for myself). I am here to help. Today's hospital makeup will have to satisfy the 'optometry' requirement:
UPDATE: the advent of my period heralded a slump in my BDI score, and some cause for concern medically speaking (holy hell of a sentence huh? jeez). So now my docs are discussing an ECT plus Ketamine induction. Essentially using Ketamine instead of Propofol to put me to sleep during the ECT. Funnily enough, I didn't have an ECT yesterday (usually Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) because docs could not get a vein to save their lives. When you're going in that often, yours tend to close down, and viable ones become few and far between. After 12 attempts, I made them stop, and called in the psych team to discuss giving my veins a rest, so to speak, until Wednesday in the hope that that will help. I will then undergo the ketamine induced ECT for the first time, and will update this post again once that happens.