To Fry Or Not To Fry

Well I had my ECT consult today.  It was…interesting.  The doctor sort of pointed out that I’ve been on *most* of the bipolar drugs that are out there.  He said that the remission rate (recovery from depression/mood disorder symptoms) for medication is a lousy 30%, whereas for ECT the remission rate is 70%!!!!  If someone were to take just one medication, and it failed, and then they had ECT, their remission rate would be 90-95%.  YOWSA!!  There’s also a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy that can be used for less severe depression, it’s like ECT-Lite.  I’m not a candidate for that.  The doctor said that the results with ECT are almost immediate, and dramatic.  The most important thing is that the patient remain committed to the three treatments per week for three weeks, and not stop after a few treatments because they feel better, because the symptoms might come back even worse.  It’s a HUGE commitment to make, basically a month off of work, and no driving for that time, and someone needs to stay with you, or you need to stay with someone.

One of my best friends, who was actually my roommate in the loony bin last year, said she would come from Florida to stay with me.  Now is that a DAMN GOOD FRIEND or what????  So that variable has been worked out.  Now I just have to deal with finding a place to live and moving.  Otherwise I would probably just start right now.  I do have huge concerns about the time off work, and really, how much is my work going to put up with before they say “The HELL with her!” and give me the boot?  I don’t know.  I’ve been on reduced hours, now I’m working three days per week at home which is VERY much against their wishes…..they don’t see me at all like a cancer patient who needs treatment.  I think they see me like a spoiled brat who’s trying to see how much she can get away with.  The only thing I can counter with is that somehow through all my shit and shinola I am still performing at work.  I am tapdancing and doing little balletic plies and then spinning on my head….and then kaboom!!  I jump down into the splits and a fart bursts out.

I guess for now I will just keep putting one foot in front of the other, investigating other options, talking to Dr. Drugs again tomorrow, and go from there.  I’ll keep y’all posted on the ECT question.  It’s funny, for all of the severe bipolar out there and all the blogs I read, there’s not much brain frying going on.  Why is that?  I know there’s plenty of suffering.  Maybe getting my bacon sizzled will help someone else, I don’t know.  BPOF over and out!

19 thoughts on “To Fry Or Not To Fry

    • Heyyy sounds like I need to see Return to Oz, eh? Or maybe I am Alice headed down the rabbit hole, I don’t know! I will keep you abreast of my journey! Should be better than an acid trip! 😀

      • It’s pretty dark all in all, but I’ve always loved it. At the start, Dorothy is sent to get ECT because of ‘making up’ Oz. She gets rescued and taken to Oz to help fix things there.

      • And pfft… acid trips rock. Not that I’ve touched the stuff this side of 2000, but still! I actually read something recently that suggests hallucinogens are actually incredibly helpful in maintaining mental health, and I wouldn’t doubt it for a second. I never had a bad trip.

      • Oh!! I forgot to mention in my original post that the good doctor said they use ketamine as sedation for the ect, and that patients get benefits from that too. I think in the meantime I’ll go score a lid. Isn’t that how you say it? hahahahaha

  1. Hey! Long time no speak, but I’ve had ECT a couple of times now. The last time was a couple of years ago and I had twelve treatments. I can’t say it’s something I really look forward to but I’ve had it when I’ve been super-super ill and it’s helped get me back from what my drs thought was the point of ‘no return’ to a place where I could start to recover.
    Let me explain – and sorry if this is too much information, but I thought it might help you make a choice.
    Last time I was really sick I was in a depressive episode. I was sectioned. I had terrible insomnia, which the hospital was really struggling to fix through drugs. I’d lost a stack of weight and was well under my BMI which was a concern. I thought that the hospital was trying to poison me. For reasons best known to my brain, not because I was being awkward, I started to think I didn’t need fluids. I was dizzy if I moved my head, but still wasn’t thirsty. There’s a note saying ‘danger of death’ on my records.
    ECT really was a last resort. Albeit I wasn’t that keen as I didn’t think there was that much wrong.
    It wasn’t the first time I’d had ECT so I knew what to expect, but I’ll explain my experience to you – it might be different in the States though, and remember I was an inpatient on a Section, who as as mad as a mad thing on mad duty, so they really were treating me with kid gloves. As much as they can when they’re hooking you up to the national grid to fry your brains out.
    The staff in the treatment room were incredibly kind. I was weak and terrified of needles, anaesthesia and the thought of someone blowing my brains out.
    They sat me down, dabbed my temples with some sort of fluid and spoke to me as they attached some nodule things to the areas they’d prepped with fluid.
    I was walked in to the treatment room where I tried not to look at the equipment which looked criminally old fashioned as a charmingly dishevelled Dr put smiled at me and prepped the needle whilst the nurses chit chatted as they put me on the bed.
    At this point the Dr started to tap my vein and I started to scream hysterically, despite the fact I’d had a shed load of tranquilizers and one of the nurses came to stroke my face as tears coursed from my eyes in to hair line and along the sticky goop they’s just prepped my temples with.
    More tapping of veins.
    My veins were collapsing because I was so dehydrated.
    And eventually the woozy anaesthesia crept up my arm and I relaxed properly for the first time in months.
    I awoke to be told I had a good seizure – 32 seconds, and to find myself on a saline drip. About which I was furious, thinking it was some conspiracy to introduce more poison in to my body.
    I had two treatments a week. And with each one, I had two litres of saline chucked through my body to try and keep me ticking over. I never got used to the anaesthesia. The staff never got used to the screaming hysterically, bless ’em.
    But slowly my survival mechanism kicked in, and thirst returned. And I managed to get some sort of sleeping pattern restored.
    Along with the side effects of the ECT.
    With my first set of ECT I had crippling nausea. I didn’t with this set. But with both I had terrible memory loss. It’s classed as short-term memory loss, as I couldn’t recall anything that anyone had said to me that day, minute, hour. Conversations must have tedious as I repeated myself every 5 minutes apparently. I wasn’t well enough to attend any therapies. There’s no way I could have gone to work. I still have no recollection of that period in my life – which under the circumstances is no bad thing.
    After some treatments I would wake up laughing hysterically. After some I would wake up crying inconsolably.
    After each treatment I felt tired and had headaches.
    In my experience, ECT isn’t the panacea that your Drs seem to be presenting it to be, however, it did get me out of the huge huge hole I’d got myself in to and give my brain the kick start it need to try and get me to a place where I could start to recover.
    I have been ill since each set of ECT treatments I’ve had. But I’d never discount myself from having them again if I was really really ill because I do think they’ve brought me back from the brink of death (as evidenced by the note on my file). But I would only use it as a last resort, because the side effects are huge and I’m not convinced my memory was the same for quite some time after the ECT finished.
    As you know, I still take meds for my Bipolar now, and I’m doing ok. Not great, but ok.
    I hope this was helpful in some way and if you have any questions at all, please just ask!
    Take care of yourself
    Heggles

    • THANK YOU so much for sharing your experiences!!!!!!!! I really feel like I am at the end of the road and this is my last hope. My mood is so incredibly unstable. I am on, as you say, a shed-load of drugs, and they are doing NOTHING to stabilize my mood. I am having HUGE breakdowns every day where I cry uncontrollably, this lasts for an hour or more, I can’t stop crying, I pray to God to take me, I want to hurt myself, I don’t have the guts to do it. I actually don’t do it because I don’t want to do it to my family. I’m afraid that some of my family members might follow me to the grave. I can’t have that on my conscience. Even though I’d be dead. Every time I have these breakdowns I feel like I can’t keep going through this. I also feel like I’m going to break down at work, and work is my last bastion of normal. I’ve really just lost it! I don’t know what’s happened to me. I’ve stopped all alcohol and marijuana in case that was a factor. I DO know that losing my home and having to move has completely undone me.

      Anyhoo, I really am grateful for your sharing with me. I think I will be joining you in the legion of the fried, as soon as I’m able to move. I’m trying to hold out. I almost headed to the hospital today. We’ll see if I can last out the month. xx Be in touch!

      • It sounds like you’re feeling shocking (er, no pun intended – honest 😉 ), and I really hope that this helps give you the reset that you need.

        Sometimes just the stress of one extra weight on our shoulders (in your case having to move) is enough to make the strain of coping with this illness just a touch too much to take.

        Giving up the booze and the dope is a good start so that you have a baseline to refer to so that you can try and figure out what ‘normal’ looks like when you start your treatment.

        A couple of tips that the hospital advised me to do when I was having my treatment (I’m sure your guys will tell you something similar, but it might be worth getting it started now, so you get in a routine).

        Start a diary – not the blogging stuff, but just the day to day how you’re feeling so you can start to chart whether there’s an improvement. It was helpful for me, because my memory loss was epic. I honestly didn’t recognise people (patients and staff!) I’d been in hospital with for weeks, and some of them I never ever got to recall – in some cases that may be no bad thing!

        Take time to rest after your treatment – you’ve just had a general anaesthetic and that along knocks the bejesus out of you, so whether you sleep or just make space to kick back on the sofa with a dvd and some soda and your favourite snack, spend some you time resting.

        And this is my tip, after more than one set of treatments draining nation of it’s resources of coal and natural gas: don’t feel ashamed that this is the route that you’re exploring. It’s a tough option, but all our treatments are different. I’m on different medication to you, your on different medication to the next person and so on. And sometimes our brains just get stuck and we need a little nudge to get us moving. The fact that you’re willing to let someone give the nudge is a real testament to your strength of character and commitment to get better.

        If you need anything at all, although I’m far away, just ask. I can’t do much, but can answer questions and give my support.

        I’m thinking of you!
        Heggles x

      • Thank you. Again. You are wonderful. I am kind of (actually completely) petrified to tell my work that I need the time off. I’m so afraid that they’ll just fire me or something. Especially when I’m signing a new lease. What would I do? Legally I don’t think they can fire me but what if they did anyway? God. I hate asking for special treatment. This shit is hell. Maybe once I find a place to live, and move, I will feel better. One can always hope I guess 🙂

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