Monday I began the wonderful world of maintenance ECT at Sibley Memorial Hospital. While it was the same treatment I received at Suburban Hospital it was worlds different at Sibley. To begin with there were appointment times. I mean, it wasn't first come, first served. It was lovely not feeling it necessary to leave the house at 5:10 am to get there at 5:20 am to make sure you were one of the first taken back to the stretchers. I practically waltzed into the Psych department at 7:40 am.
So that brings us to the second difference. The ECT area is in the In-Patient Psych Ward. I did not like that. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've done my time in-patient. But man I DO NOT want to have flashbacks to those times. Keep me outside of the locked doors thank you very much. I did not like that part of the set up. I think Sibley is working on finding a new space for ECT to keep it out of the locked ward.
The third major difference is that they do not make you put on a hospital gown. You stay in your comfy clothes, sitting in a chair, until they call you back for your turn. Even then you don't change out of your clothes. It's lovely actually. I did wish they could have started the IV when I was with my mother, but they took a precursory look at my arms and declared that there were no viable veins and that the anesthesiologist would insert the IV.
So when it is your turn they call your name and you walk back to the treatment room. You hop up on the stretcher and they took my glasses, which I hated because it is kind of claustrophobic when you can't see. I don't know, do you find that too? Anyway, then the anesthesiologist inserted the IV into the tiny spot right above my left pinky knuckle. That hurt like a mother! The psychiatrist was very kind and explained everything he was doing while he was doing it. Then they turned on the IV.....burned like a million fires!!!!! For whatever reason, even after the meds were in me I got jerky and moved and the IV came out. So they had to start a new IV, in the other hand, and give me a second dose of the anesthesia. So all told I had twice the amount I should have had. But to be honest I don't remember much after the burning of the first IV going in.
Usually you are in PACU for about 45 minutes and then you are ready to leave and go home. Well I was there for 3 1/2 hours. It took me a long time to wake up (from the double dose of anesthesia) and then my 02 level was so low they wouldn't let me leave. They gave me a nebulizer treatment to try and bring it up. They put the little oxygen spouts in my nose to help bring up my O2. They coached me in breathing deeply (which I think was necessary since I kept falling asleep). Finally, finally, finally they deemed me O2 saturated enough to go home.
I arrived home at 1:30 pm. Seven hours after I left home that morning. For a procedure that should have taken about 2 hours from start to finish.
I slept literally the whole rest of the day. I took a nap in bed. Woke up to eat some lunch and then fell asleep on the couch while talking with my mother. She left to go back home and I fell back to sleep after she left on the other couch. I couldn't wait to go to sleep for the night. I slept through the night H-A-R-D. When I woke up I had a fat lip and every inch of me was sore. Now I don't remember this happening before but I've been assured that it is normal for me. I guess part of the beauty of ECT is that you really don't remember any of it. Which my sister tells me is all for the best.
Everyone was very nice at Sibley. It was just a completely new experience for me as compared to Suburban. Sometimes change is good and sometimes it is bad and sometimes it is neither. I think this was a neither instance. It is what it is.
Next date of ECT is Monday, August 21st. Here's hoping that August goes a little smoother.
I have to be honest with you, I wasn't planning on writing a blog post tonight. After a frustrating day at work (don't get me started.....I'd probably get myself fired) I came home and painted my nails. Painting my nails always makes me feel good, especially when I do a good job. So I was feeling good. I watched 10 Things I Hate About You while letting my nails dry and sipped on some delicious vanilla chai iced tea. I was chill. I was calm. I was excited about meeting with a doctor for a second opinion on the psychological treatment plan I've been on and if there were any better options out there tomorrow afternoon with my parents. I was good. And then I got a notification that Chester Bennington died by suicide. I couldn't let that go without putting my thoughts onto virtual paper.
Now I'll keep it 100% honest and tell you that I don't know that much about Linkin Park. I use their Bleed It Out as one of my inspirational running songs. But honestly I discovered that song by accident and don't really listen to anything else by them. Well of course that is changing tonight. I've made my Linkin Park playlist on iTunes and will listen to it as I type this blog post and as I drive to work and the doctor's appointment tomorrow. Who knows how long I'll listen to it. It isn't my typical type of music I listen to but I feel a connection now. Not sure why, I mean I don't know what it feels like to lose someone close to me to suicide, but I do know what it feels like to feel like the only solution to the pain and despair is to end it all.
When you are low, like really, really low, like there is no reason to get out of bed, or there is no reason to get into bed in the first place, or there is no reason to even call a friend cause really who gives a shit about me anyway, all you know is that you are a drag to be around and for sure your friends don't want to be dragged down by you. But oh how wrong that sick mind is! It is exactly at those moments, at those instants of just wanting to throw in the towel that you MUST, you MUST reach out. You MUST talk to someone, if only for 5 minutes to get you outside of your head. You MUST be told that there is a world outside of your depression. You MUST be shown that you are loved and needed and most importantly, you MUST be told that YOU.DO.MATTER!!!!!
I wish that someone had realized how large Chester Bennington's demons had become to him. I wish there had been that split second that either Chester had asked for the strength to fight back his demons, or better yet, I wish there had been that split second that someone close to him had seen how real the struggle was and to take him by the hand and help him back from the brink. When your demons are that real and that large and that all-encompassing it is SOOOOOO hard to ask for the help you so desperately need. To be honest, if my mother didn't keep such close tabs on me and variations from my normal I'm completely sure I would not still be here. I surely would have self-destructed by now.
I guess the point of this blog is a) to get the huge amount of emotions I'm having with the news of Chester Benninton's death by suicide out and organized somehow and b) to let anyone reading who is feeling any of the feelings either I've mentioned or some of the articles mention that there IS help. There ARE trained professionals out there to help you see through the fog of mental illness and start on your road to recovery, even if you are 100% sure there is no way to recover. There ARE friends who are out there who are more than willing to take you literally by the hand and help you take the first, and second, and third, and possibly fourth, step on the road to getting help. Please do not give up the fight. Please fight tooth and nail, fight with everything you have to give, even if you feel as though you have nothing to give, fight, fight, fight to live, if only long enough to breathe another breath. Then fight to take the next breath and the next. Fight to get the care you deserve. Fight to find the right team of professionals to help you.
Fight for your life. YOU ARE WORTH EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF IT!!!!!!
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
Is Wednesday Morning, 3 AM anyone else's favorite Simon and Garfunkel song? I just love it. Check it out here and tell me you don't LOVE it!!! And it isn't over played. In fact it is hardly played at all!!!!! Anyway, I picked it as my title because Monday morning, 3 AM I was still awake. Yup. Bad choices by Rachel. But man, I was having fun on the computer and I was watching some good movies. I mean, Spy Game and Twilight? Who can say no to those two? But really, if you haven't seen Spy Game with Robert Redford you really should. It is phenomenal.
Anyway, it is halfway through the week so I am fulfilling the second part of my three part promise about blog posts this week. And what I thought of doing was sort of a blow by blow about how my life has been post ECT. Seems like a reasonable post, no?
So, for the first week or so after finishing the 12th ECT treatment I am pretty zombie-like. This time my parents took me home to their house. I think really my mother just wanted to make sure I ate good food (like NOT Wacky Mac) and got to bed at reasonable times (see reference to Wednesday Morning, 3 AM). So I stayed there about a week and then finally said to them something along the lines of, "I am so anxious to get back to my apartment. I have things to do!" I think both my mother and my father took that as a good sign. So back to my apartment I went.
The first thing I did was clean. Weird for me I realize, but that is what I was so anxious to start doing. A little purging, a little straightening, a little organizing. I hit the kitchen, I hit the living room, and I hit my bedroom. And by straightening up the living room the dining room got hit as well. The only room I really need to tackle still is the bathroom. But who enjoys straightening/cleaning the bathroom I ask you? Next on my list was to meal plan so I could go shopping and prepare my meals for the upcoming week. (If you aren't aware, and you can be by clicking on over to the Healthy Stuff page, I meal plan for a week at a time. I go through my cookbooks and blogs I follow and find two main dishes to make and eat them throughout the week--I don't mind eating the same things day after day. This way I only need to go grocery shopping once a week.) I had fun doing it. I love meal planning. I love grocery shopping. I love cooking. I don't love doing dishes, but part of my new routine is the minute I'm done using something I either wash it by hand or I stick it in the dishwasher. I run my dishwasher every night and empty it every morning while I'm prepping my breakfast and lunch every day. This way the dishes never overwhelm me.
I picked up all the clothes from the bedroom floor and aim, every night, to hang up what I wore that day, or put it in the laundry basket. I aim to make my bed every single morning. These are two things that when I'm sick I do not do. Like I never do it. It's ridiculous how little bedroom floor you can see when I'm sick. I guess the same can be said for the living room floor as well. So far, so good. I've been on a two week streak, if not longer. I've lost count.
Now, two things I need to get better at are exercising, because I KNOW FOR SURE that that will help me stay emotionally healthy, and drinking my water. I've read that drinking room temperature water is better for you than drinking cold water, but I just can't do it. Blech! So I try every morning to start with a 12 oz. glass of water or seltzer. I have two bottles at work, both with filters in the straw (I'm a nut about only drinking filtered water), and I drink from one while the other one is chilling in the fridge, and then I switch when I finish the first one. So far so good. About the exercising.....well......that's another story. I have a training plan, from Runner's World, that I know is a good one. I mean, come on, it's from Runner's World after all. I'm just having trouble getting out there and doing it. You know what I mean? I'm sure many of you do. Tomorrow is an easy day, I think it's only walking for either 20 minutes for 40 minutes. I can totally do that. I don't even have to go anywhere, I can walk around my apartment complex and get some hills in there too. Tomorrow I'm going to do it!!!! I mean it!!!! I'll check in tomorrow with a quick post letting you know how it went.
Before I sign off (really cause I have to go to the bathroom) I wanted to tell you a funny story that happened this morning. If you know me you know I have terrible vision. Without my glasses or my contacts I can't see much past my nose. So I can not read my clock by my bed. So the alarm went off at 6:00 am this morning and I promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. The next time I woke up I tried to see the clock and thought that it said 7:52 am. Oh no!!! I only had about 25 minutes to get ready and pack my lunch and make my breakfast. So I hustled out of bed, ran to the bathroom, did my stuff and went back into my room to get dressed, wearing my glasses. I look at the clock and it read 7:10 am. So come to find out, when I first looked at the clock it read 6:52, not 7:52!!!!! I was a whole hour earlier than I thought. I had so much spare time this morning. I made a great green smoothie (gotta start the day off with a serving of veggies). Packed a delicious lunch. Made some yummy Strawberry Coolata iced tea in the neatest mug that a student gave me. And still had time to sit on the couch and watch Carpool Karaoke. Do you watch that, with James Cordon? OMG! It cracks me up EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. Here is the one I watched this morning. I was crying at the end I was laughing so hard!!! Check it out.
So, happy Hump Day to all you reading this (I hope there are many of you, friends and people I don't know yet but hope to know soon). We are half way through the week. And even though we had yesterday off, that just made today feel like a Monday. And who likes a week with two Mondays?!?! Tomorrow is Thursday, one day closer to Friday. And on Friday we can sign the Friday Song. It is semi-related to the Vacation Song. And if you are a member of my family you know what that one is. The Friday Song is new. I just made it up last week. But I think it's a keeper, if I can only remember the tune.
Have a wonderful rest of your Wednesday. I wish you a speedy conclusion to the week. And I'll catch ya on the flip side.
Thank you for reading and supporting me.
If you follow this blog you'll have noticed that I have been absent for quite some time. I mean, I guess not that long, but a lot has happened since I last wrote. When I last wrote I was just at the beginning of my second round with ECT. It was only supposed to be every other week for a month and then once a month, but turned into three times a week for a month. It was rough. I tried to keep working during the off days, but quite quickly it became apparent that I was not mentally up to the challenge of my job. Every one at work was so kind and understanding, even if I didn't take it as that at the time. But I've been assured that they were.
So I just wanted to take this blog post to sort of explain, both to you and to me, what exactly ECT is and what it does and how it is performed. So let us begin with some information I found from the Mayo Clinic. So, first of all, ECT stands for Electro-Convulsive Therapy and is used primarily in treatment resistant patients. Now I am not completely treatment resistant, I guess I am partially resistant. Medications work but only to a certain extent. And at various times that extent is not enough to have any sort of enjoyable life. Unacceptable!!!! What I've read says that the actual procedure takes anywhere from five to 10 minutes. WOW!!!! The whole shebang takes like four hours (give or take depending on how long it takes for the nurses to get you set up and how many people are in line before you). I actually had no idea how quick the ECT procedure took. ECT can be done either outpatient or inpatient, although in my Mental Health Advance Directive I've very clearly stated that I will only undergo ECT as an outpatient patient, with a family member there to be with me (check out this link for more information on Mental Health Advance Directives). So after you're called in, and taken back, you put on a hospital gown and wait to have an IV inserted. This was always my most dreaded part....me and needles....NO THANK YOU!!!!!
When it is your turn they wheel you into the treatment room. In that room, at least in my experience, there is the doctor who administers the ECT, the anesthesiologist, and a nurse. So there is a little chit chat as the doctor puts electrodes on your head. The Mayo Clinic says that ECT can be unilateral, in which electric currents focus on only one side of the brain, or bilateral, in which both sides of the brain receive focused electric currents. For my first round of ECT, back in 2016, I had bilateral. And man did it do a number on my whole self. I had no memory and was like a zombie. This year, after a week or two of bilateral, we switched to unilateral because the bilateral was making me into a zombie again. I guess this year the lasting negative effects of the ECT didn't last as long as with the bilateral last year. So, now comes the fun part (not really, I'm saying that with my tongue in my cheek), they start the anesthesia. It burns like a mother f*cker going in. They would give me something to help numb it but it didn't really do anything I felt. Very quickly I was asleep and not aware of anything else until I woke up.
According to the Mayo Clinic not only is an anesthetic given, but also a muscle relaxant, to help make the seizure less intense. I wasn't aware of this. The Mayo Clinic also says that a blood pressure cuff is put around your ankle to stop the muscle relaxant from reaching your foot so that the doctor can monitor the seizure through the foot's movement. But they also have all sorts of monitors to see the progress of the seizure too, so I don't even know if they put a blood pressure cuff around my ankle. And after a few minutes the seizure is over and you are done.
Next they wheel you into recovery to let the anesthesia wear off. Sometimes I had an easy wake up and sometimes they were more difficult with confusion and nausea. Thank goodness most of them were okay and I really didn't even know if I had had the procedure yet or not. When I was awake they would take out the IV and call my mother back in to see me. She would then go get the car, I would get dressed, and an orderly would wheel me down to the front door to meet my mother in the car.
This I'm just going to copy, word for word, from www.mayoclinic.org:
No one knows for certain how ECT helps treat severe depression and other mental illnesses. What is known, though, is that many chemical aspects of brain function are changed during and after seizure activity. These chemical changes may build upon one another, somehow reducing symptoms of severe depression or other mental illnesses. That's why ECT is most effective in people who receive a full course of multiple treatments.
And that was my life for the month of May in 2017. I didn't really enjoy it. It was very taxing on not only me, physically and emotionally, but on my parents as well. My mother had to come stay with me and my parents are very much in love so it was hard for them to be apart so much. I know they love me and would do almost anything to help me be and stay healthy, but they still need to be with each other. I appreciate all they do and have done for me and my health.
Why I'm Blogging
Just your average 40 something trying to find the way in which she can make sense of her life. I hope you'll join me for this journey.