Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Monday without a treatment

Mood 8.5

Spent morning at home with Maggie, who was in bed sick. Did some house work, read, etc. Went to lunch with Melissa (El Parrall), then to Hobby Lobby and Michael’s. Not much else exciting. Decided today that I am ready to get back into the work force, in the area which pays me a salary, gives me some security, and gives me a set of expectations which are consistent. I have an interview with Loomis Fargo tomorrow, but I don’t think the pay is enough to make it happen. I will call Marty and some others I have worked with and see what I can make happen.

Had dinner with Mic and Maggie tonight. Melissa was gone to a meeting. The kids and I played a game of Jenga and then watched “Surface” together. Mic is still hard to be around, but I’m trying.

Just a Sunday, Discovering my new world.

Spent a couple hours at Starbucks this morning, reading. Melissa took me and came back to get me. Melissa commented today that she hopes that, as things in my head get better, I don’t lose sight of how bad things were before ECT started. That’s a very real possibility. Things are better overall, in my head, and I know they were really shitty not too very long ago, but already I have trouble putting my finger on just how shitty they were, or what was so shitty about things back then. I really hope that I am able to maintain an appreciation for how much better things have gotten and how much ECT has helped. But if I had to guess, I will lose that appreciation as time goes by.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Saturday, January 28: My Daughter's 11th BDay Mood 9

Got up early for Maggie’s basketball game at 9:50. Today is her 11th birthday! We went to the game and then to Target and then to Wendy’s. Because my crown is off, I had to cut my hamburger up to eat it. I got some crown replacement glue at Target, which works ok, I think.

Pretty decent day overall. Mood was good and stable. Maggie is having her birthday party tonight, which consists of having two girls over to spend the night, pizza, movies, donuts on the morning, and then them going home for church. Melissa and I are watching a movie. Mic is rather pitiful through all of this. He doesn’t really have any friends, other than the kids at Mount St. Vincent Home, and he gets all sad when Maggie is with her friends.

I’m finding myself more and more confused about simple things more and more often. Dumb stuff like, suddenly, thinking that I was unaware that a certain store had closed, or forgetting how to get to a place I have been several times before. I understand why the doctors restrict driving while treatment is ongoing. I can see getting lost in a very familiar area.

January 27: Treatment #20 Mood 8.5

Treatment #20 today at 2:00. Had the morning to mess around (kill), so I played PS2 and did some job hunting online (King Soopers, Starbucks, Loomis Fargo, Colorado Division of Vocational Rehab). Jackie Schultz came by the house to see Melissa (she wasn’t home.) I asked if she wanted to come in, and we talked in the entry way (which is very unlike me). We talked about swim team and then about bi-polar (her mother is bi-polar.) Everything just seems more “real” the last couple of days. They seem positive and happy. Got to Porter about 12:30 for pre-op. My blood pressure was 141/87, a little high. My Beck score was an all time low of 9 (its been as high as 40). My seizure was 31 peripheral and 56 EEG.

The anesthesiologist knocked my right front crown off during the procedure. Not real sure how, but Dr. Clopton brought it to me when I was in Recovery. The A-Doc will pay to have it replaced.

We gave Dr Clopton my LT Disability form to submit today. She gave me a script for 20 more Percocet. My head hurt in Recovery, despite the 75mcs of Fentynl they gave me. My Blood Pressure in Recovery II (3:55) was better, 123/84.

I very sick to my stomach by the time I got home and for the rest of the night. I never threw up, but I thought I was going to for most of the night. I ate about 5 bites of lasagna and salad for dinner, and couldn’t stomach more. I had some Dramamine about 7:30 and was asleep by 10:15.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Thursday, January 26

Not much notable about today. Melissa worked and the kids were at school this morning, so I was home alone. I spent a good deal of the morning working on job prospecting. It would help if I knew what I wanted to do! I have an interview with Loomis Fargo (Armored Transport), an application submitted to King Soopers (the major grocery store chain here), and with Starbucks, an appointment to attend an orientation with the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation early next month, and some information coming to me from The Children's Law Center about doing some work as a Guardian Ad Litem. I think that's enough irons on the fire for now (!)

Today, I read for quite some time, then called a couple neighbors to ask for a ride Starbucks (to read some more). Melissa picked me up there at about 1:30. We ran some errands, picked Maggie up from school, and spent the evening at home having dinner and watching TV. Pretty quiet day, by comparison. Tomorrow...treatment #20. I've noticed today that, in several places (both elbows and both wrists), my veins are hard and sore. I hope that's just general objection to the level of abuse they have endured for 6 weeks now.

What I notice must today, about my mood in general, is my level of concern for things (i.e. my level of concern over employment, money, health, etc.) Previously, prior to ECT, I would have been plagued by these topics, very worried about them, and in a terrible mood because of them. Now, I acknowledge that those topics require some attention, but they are what they are. They just aren't being allowed to rule my head like they would have 2 months ago. Everything just seems a little brighter, and that's without trying at all to really make anything feel brighter.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wednesday, January 26: Mood 8.5

Today went by very quickly, and I don’t know why. I started my day at home alone. I decided I needed to get out, so I spent about two hours looking for my car key. My psych doctor put me on driving restriction (no driving until about a week after my last treatment because the treatments scramble your thinking enough that driving becomes a little dangerous.) I decided that I could take the chance of driving to Starbucks for coffee. Melissa hid my key like a champ. I thought I had found it a couple of times, but it turned out to be the wrong key both times. After looking for, no kidding, 2 hours, I finally gave up and decided to walk the mile and a half to Le Peep (which is a little breakfast place, like a dainty iHop.) Got there, only to discover that it has closed and is no longer there. Settled for a sandwich from a nearby place instead.

Had to be at my daughter’s school at 1:30 for the Spelling Bee which she qualified for. She didn’t win, but she did great (she’s my daughter…it was SPELLING...qualifying alone was outstanding.) From there, we had to leave to drive way up north to the RTC at which Mic used to live. He now gets bussed there daily for “day treatment”. We had a 3:45 appointment with Dr. Deck, Mic’s P-Doc, followed by “family therapy” with Mic’s therapist.

We left about 6:00, stopped for dinner on the way home, and got home about 7:00. Busy day, but it went by quickly. My mood was very good, other than my impatience with Mic. Since he’s been home (which I would expect to make him feel really good and try very hard to maintain himself), he has been super whiney and pushy about everything. Nothing is fair, nothing is good enough, nothing is as he wants it to be. As much as I try, I have little patience for that.

Treatment #19

Today was ECT session #19. 19!! I can hardly believe that something that was that scary to begin with (one of the scariest things I’ve ever done) is this run-of-the-mill now. My Beck score today was 11, which is one of my best scores, but not the lowest ever. I keep recognizing that something is troubling my mind, but I’m having trouble putting my finger on what it is. My overall mood seems good, but I realize that nothing is really bringing me much pleasure, and I’m finding myself thinking about my work future a considerable amount.

I didn’t sleep good after 4:30 this morning. It could have been that fact that I had to be up by a certain time this morning (7:15), and I was concerned that I wouldn’t wake up again in time. I had fretful repeating dreams in which the same things seemed wrong over and over, preventing the desired outcome. But, as usual, I can’t remember what the problem was or what the desired outcome was.

My veins in my arms are taking issue with the frequent IVs more and more. Today, a vein in my hand refused to cooperate, so the IV wound up in the big vein in the bend of my right elbow (they don’t like to use that one, and prefer the hand, for some reason). The seizure today was 16 seconds peripheral and 36 seconds EEG. Not the best ever, but plenty to be therapeutic. I was in the OR at 9:30 and in Recovery by 10:10 (Recovery II at 11:40). I had 3 cc of Fentenyl in Recovery to kill my headache. Everything felt pretty good otherwise, except for a little dizziness. My blood pressure was good today, ranging from 98/65 (10:15) to 140/78 (11:00). Had a couple Percocet just before leaving the hospital for pain.

I was really nauseous on the drive home and afterwards, and have had no appetite. My ears have really been ringing since I woke up in Recovery. I was home and resting by 12:45.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday, January 23

Mood 8

Today has been a day full of nothing. I have spent most of the day finding ways to occupy my mind. Melissa and I took her car to the VW place to have a safety switch replaced. We walked down the street to Starbucks while they worked on the car. Once the car was done, we went to lunch and then to Target and the Mall. Just wasting time, mostly.

I talked to Michelle Roche today. I went to law school with her and knew her through Brian Whitney. Michelle is involved with the Children’s Law Center, does a lot of guardian ad litem work, and is sending me some information on working for the counties and the state on appointed work representing children. I don’t know if that is the kind of work I would enjoy doing, but its something I want to check out.

I heard an ad on the radio today from Loomis Fargo, asking for applicants for delivery and courier drivers. I am submitting an application today. Not what I want to do for the rest of my career, but it’ll put some dollars in the coffer in the short-term.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday, January 22, 2006: Mood 7

Today has been a mediocre day. My major issue today has been in dealing with being around Mic. For those that don't know, Mic is my 12 yr old son with Schizo-affective Disorder. He has lived in a group home for most fo the last year, and is living at home now again. He is being no more unusual than he normally is, but I am having trouble tolerating him. I am having good success, however, in quietly being intolerant of him. I think the Zanax XR which I started taking last night, and which is supposed to last 24 hours, has been a big help in being able to tolerate Mic more successfully. I used to to take Zanax only in the evenings, and only regular doses of 1mg in a normally metabolising tablet. The new tablets are extended release tablets, and seem to work very well.

Melissa and I went for a 20 minute walk at about 4:00, after the Bronco game. We walked fast in order to stay a little warmer.

I find myself more and more concerned with my career, what I am going to do for work following this short-term disability for depression, and how best to utilize the tools available to me for going back to work when I am ready. I have looked at open positions with the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, as well as programs available with the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Ideally, I will find a position which will allow me to employ my legal and business education in an enjoyable work environment.

Saturday, January 21: Mood 8.5

This morning was spent at Maggie’s basketball game. Maggie’s team won, but Maggie didn’t score (played good defense.) I can really feel the difference from my ECT treatments today. There is a considerable amount of confusion from the most recent 6 weeks, but my mood is good and getting better. Things which were stressors before are still present (i.e. the need for employment), but much less stressful. I know I will solve the employment question in the near future, when the time is right. Until then, I’m just not worrying about it.

I am looking forward to being able to drive again. My Doc restricted me until about a week after my last treatment. So, in a couple of weeks, I’ll have my keys back. Until then, its probably best that I am restricted. My brain isn’t working quickly enough, right now, for me to be safe behind the wheel.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Treatment #18

Today was a good day. I received treatment #18 today, which was a 55 second seizure. Today was the last of the 3x week treatments for now. I start tapering next week, and will have only 2x treatments next week, on Tuesday and Friday, and then 1x the following week (provided all continues to go well.)

Day b/w treatments

Today has been somewhat of a neutral day. My mood has been good, but not great. Mic has been home all day, and I haven’t been in the mood to be with him today. I spent an hour and a half at Starbucks this morning, reading, while Melissa and Mic went to the Orthodontist. Melissa, Mic and I came home for a couple hours (and lunch), before Melissa drove me to an appointment with my therapist. Mark, my therapist, is going to hook me up with an acquaintance of his, a vocational rehabilitation specialists, to work on moving toward a new professional endeavor for after my ECT treatment is complete. This afternoon, Melissa, Mic, Maggie and I all drove to Mt St Vincent Home for family therapy. The snow has been falling all day. We have about 3 inches on the yard now, and the streets are wet. The prediction is for 4-8 inches tonight and accumulation on the driving surfaces by morning.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Treatment 17, Mood 8

Treatment #17 today. Before treatment, I was still trying to figure out how I was feeling different. My Beck score was 12, and it could have been a little lower had I not been conservative in answering a couple of the questions. I think I have decided that the difference in the way I am feeling is really a difference in my energy level and overall outlook. Melissa commented that she can see that there are many times now that “the old me” is coming through. I have to agree. I am finding myself enjoying life in general much more than I have been for a long time.

Today, my peripheral seizure was 32 seconds, and my EEG was 50. I had Zofran (nausea) and Torodal (headache) before treatment. All of the anesthesia was the same as previous treatments. I seemed to go to sleep a little quicker today. It seemed like from the time I noticed the Etomidate starting to work until I lost track of things was a very short time. I woke in Recovery in a pretty clear state of mind, but with a nasty headache and serious ringing in my ears. I was in Recovery I for a relatively short time today before going to Recovery II. Recovery II consisted of 2 Percocet and an oral Zofran for nausea (which I really needed.) The post treatment headache and dizziness today were significant, but seemed to subside pretty quickly and be gone by the time I left to go home. I was out of Recovery II by 2:45 (from a 11:45 treatment) and home by 3:05.

I really notice the ears ringing today more than any previous treatment. That feature seems to be cumulative. I have gotten somewhat of a handle on how things feel different over the last couple of treatments: I can just feel myself being happier and more like the old me. My memory is horrible, and getting worse, but that’s a fair trade for the benefit I’m getting from the treatments. its hard to describe the difference from the last couple of treatments, but for now, I’ll just say that I can tell they are working, that my overall outlook is improving, and that the improvement seems to be accelerating.

Tuesday, January 17

Had lunch with Brad Averill today at El Parral (Thanks Brad!) Insurance approved 6 more treatments today, which gives me total approval for 22 with 16 behind me. I felt dizzy-ish all day today. Something has been different for the last couple of days. In some ways, I haven’t felt as good. In others, I think I’ve felt better. I’m trying to figure out what has changed and if its good or bad. I’ll write about it as soon as I figure that out.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Treatment 16

The trend continued this morning: Things still didn’t feel as good. I didn’t feel depressed, but something still felt like it was missing. My Beck score pre-treatment today was 16, higher than it had been last week. Melissa and I talked quite a lot today (and yesterday) about priorities and where my attention should lie: In getting better; mentally healthy (and not concern over employment or income, etc.) Melissa keeps telling me “Worry about your mental health and getting better…NOTHING else.” That’s hard to do. I have responsibilities and people who count on me for security. For now, however, I’ll just have to let Melissa carry that load.

Pre-seizure, today, I was medicated with Zofran and Torodol for nausea and headache. My seizure was typical. I was medicated with the usual: Lydicane, Etomidate, Caffeine. Stimulus was bi-lateral again today. My seizure was 38 seconds peripheral and 51 seconds EEG. Wave form and amplitude were both excellent, and cessation was very clean. Today was my last approved treatment (insurance). Dr. Clopton’s staff was calling for more approvals today. I got 25 mcg Fentenyl (x2) in Recovery for pain, and 2 Percocet in Recovery 2. I could feel an improvement immediately after treatment (compared to before.) Negativity and worry were both gone. I notice the ringing in my ears much worse today. It seems to increase with every treatment.

I was out of Recovery quickly today. Home by 3:00 after a 12:20 treatment. This headache today is persistent! Likewise, the nausea won’t seem to go away today either. As a result, I have eaten almost nothing all day. I can’t eat before treatment, of course, and I ate very little afterwards as well. I will get caught up on calorie intake tomorrow.

Sunday, January 15

Today, like yesterday, just doesn’t feel as good, but I can’t put my finger on why. I have this bothersome empty feeling that I can’t shake. It feels like I am falling short of being what I want to be. I think it might be a product of my “mood” being better, but having no real personal direction (work). I can tell Melissa is worried about me. I think most of my problem is that as I feel better, I think more about work and profession and employment, which all bring me back to the concept that I don’t know what I want to do with my life, and I know that I won’t be able to feel very good for very long until I figure that out and make progress in that direction. I know my position at Pulte Homes will be ending when I don’t return this week after my “6 week disability”. And going back there doesn’t do anything for me anyway. Hard for me to be “happy” until I find a place for my professional life to take place.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Janaury 14, Saturday

Mood not quite as good today, but still pretty good. My mood, in general, is ok. I am just having less luck being patient with Mic than I would like. I was asleep early last night, so I was up early today, well rested. Maggie had a basketball game today, and we are getting ready for the Broncos playoff game, which starts at 6:00.

Treatment #15

Today was treatment #15. Things got a little strange. When I woke up in Recovery, I was REALLY disoriented. I noticed, soon after waking up, that my IV had moved from my right elbow area to the back of my left hand. I was also informed by the Recovery Nurse responsible for me that I would notice an absence of hospital gown and 02 hose. Apparently, at some point during the procedure, I lost my gown and something necessitated the insertion of a new IV. I don’t know any more than that, and I don’t think I want to. My seizure today was 49 seconds with a very neat pattern and a very solid shut down. My Beck score was a 12. I had 10 mg of Fentenyl for headache afterwards.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Janaury 12

Today I slept late. I was exhausted from yesterday. I got up about 9:45, fixed an omelet and toast. Melissa came by and got me during a Sam’s run about noon and took me with her. My mood is strong today. I’m not worried about much, and not in a hurry to get back to work. Actually, I told my boss today that my 6 week disability is over this week, that my doc hasn’t cleared me to come back to work yet, and asked him to advise what to do.

Treatment number 15 is tomorrow at 2:00.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Treatment #14

Today was treatment #14. Its hard to believe that I have been anesthetized 14 times for ECT treatments. We arrived at the hospital this morning at 10:00 for an 11:30 procedure. My Beck score continues to improve. Today it was down to a 12 (down from an initial score of 40, six weeks ago.) This was bilateral treatment #8. My seizure time was 86 seconds, which is the second longest I have had. Rhythm was very good, the my brain shut the seizure down very cleanly. We seemed to be at the hospital forever to day, leaving at 2:30. Melissa says that we weren’t there any longer than usual, but it seemed like longer. For some reason, this treatment seems to have effected my memory and cognitive functioning more than any other. When I woke up, I couldn’t remember what day it was, how many treatments I had had, and I had trouble remembering several other things that should have not been any trouble to recall (and I can’t now recall what those things were, either). The post procedure headache today was significant, requiring 10mg of Fentenyl to alleviate.

Several people, whom I have come to know from the hospital (relatives of other patients), commented on how good I seem and am beginning to look. I must admit that I am beginning to feel pretty good, too. Things are beginning to look much brighter, even though I don’t know what I will do for work when I’m ready to go back. What I do won’t really matter much as long as I continue get my mood under control (and as long as I get back the cognitive function I seem to be missing after these last couple treatments.) My doc keeps assuring me that the loss of function I am noticing will come back once we end treatments.

Doc wants to finish this week and one more week of three treatments per week, then begin to taper. That will put me at 18 before the taper. I’ll be lucky to remember my name by that time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

January 10

Today began pretty quietly. Melissa worked and the kids were both at school. That left me at home alone. Since I am not allowed to drive (for good reason, I might add), I just hung out and read and answered some e-mail. Melissa came to get me about noon for lunch and to run some errands. She dropped me at Starbucks for a couple hours to read while she finished up work. We went for a 30 minute walk when we got home.

Melissa had a staff meeting tonight, so the kids and I ate dinner. Maggie has basketball practice and is riding with a friend. Mic gets picked up at 7:05 in the morning for school (he’s bussed to Mt St. Vincent Home for day treatment). Because of the early departure, he goes to bed early.

Treatment #13, Bilateral #7

Treatment #13 today. I can feel my brain getting slower as these treatments progress. It all feels like something that will come back once I stop battering my brain, but there is a certain cumulative effect that I notice. I have been thinking about my career, and the fact that there are two distinct ‘parts’: Pre-Cyber. Joe Coffee and Post. Everything pre-CJC was positive and successful in the legal field. Everything post CJC has been decreasingly successful. My first mortgage job was fairly lucrative. My 2nd mortgage job paid very well, and the mortgage jobs have paid less well since then. I have allowed CJC to be my albatross for too long. It was a failure, big deal. We all have them. I need to get past that one and move on. I realize that everything post CJC has been desperate, not “me”, not what I want. Its time to reset, put CJC in the past, get back on top and do what I want to do. There is no reason to carry CJC with me any further, and it stops today. It is time for my financial dry-spell to end, and for me to get back on top and put away some wealth, play smarter

Things continue to change on a personal front. My routine weekend includes hiding out in the basement or away from others for most of the time, doing my own thing. I am usually at home, but by myself. Melissa recognized, even before I did, that I spent most of the weekend with the family, and several hours in the family room with everyone on Sunday. First time in 3 or 4 years.

Today, my Beck Score was 13. Remember, I started at 40. My doctor commented that “a 13 is rapidly approaching ‘remission’” I think a score down around 10 or 11 is what she’s looking for before we start tapering the treatments. Maybe by the end of this week.

For #13, we did Torodol (headache) and Zofran (nausea) before-hand. We used lydicane and etomidate for anesthesia, and 1000mg of caffeine to encourage the seizure. Not as long as the last one, by any means, but a 40 second seizure is well into the therapeutic range. The rhythm was good and the cessation was sharp. I woke up lost in Recovery. No Fentenyl in Recovery today. My head hurt when I woke up, but not much. I decided that Percocet in Recovery II would be enough (and get me out of there quicker.) I notice that with each treatment, the ringing in my ears increases. No nausea on the way home today, but later in the evening it was there, until I went to sleep.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A turning point?

My mood today isn’t much better than yesterday. Since Friday’s treatment, I haven’t felt good. I feel like I’m just really slow. Not depressed, really, just like I’m in a fog and nothing makes much sense. Melissa said it felt like I was withdrawn and distant, even though I was running errands with the family. I don’t know if it was the mega-seizure on Friday that is causing this change, or stresses like Melissa’s car dying, or that I just feel useless and like I’m not contributing (I haven’t worked in 5 weeks, and I expect to lose my job this week, no big loss, after not returning from my 6 week disability.) Melissa and my doc keep telling me to not worry about it, to get well first, and then figure out where I want to go to work, but that’s a lot easier said than it is for me to do.

A very wise person in my life commented a few days ago, not in so many words, that I need to stop expecting so much so soon, stop pushing so hard, let go and let the healing happen before I worry about anything else. I’m trying, but its not an easy path for me to take.

I think in retrospect today, some things have begun to happen. I’m not sure how to label them, or what they mean, but things seem to be changing. I did more with Melissa and my family today than I’ve done in as long as I can remember. Its as though the treatment I am undergoing is having a slow and indirect effect on the depression that has been part of my life for a long time. I can feel the relative value of things in my life changing, but I can’t put a formula to those changes just yet. I’ll just stand back and let things happen, and see where they take me. I’m not sure how to reconcile the fact that I haven’t felt “good” since Friday’s treatment, but that I feel I am moving closer to my family and to the values I want to have or that I have felt slow and cognitively impaired, but like I am moving in the right direction as a whole. I hope that these seemingly divergent feelings reconcile in the near future as the treatments proceed.

Something seems different...

I slept like the freaking dead last night. I remember waking up frightened a couple of times, like I thought someone was watching me. Of course, they weren’t. I woke this morning with what feels like a serious alcohol headache. It hurts to change altitude, to cough, to sneeze. I’m in a pretty surly mood, overall. Just very grumpy and intolerant. I feel very brain-slow today, like nothing really makes much sense. Mic moved home last evening for good. Also on the home front, Melissa’s van died yesterday. We made the last payment on it this month. Timing is everything!

Watched Star Wars – Empire Strikes Back with the kids last night. Installment 5 in our quest to watch all 6 episodes in order.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Treatment #12

Friday, January 06, 2006
Mood 7

Today I stepped up to the big leagues of seizures. When I woke up in Recovery, surprised I was in Recovery, I pretty much knew it had been a big one. I just felt run over. My Beck score today was an all-time low, 15 (low is good). Remember, when these treatments began, I was at 40. 16 is considered “moderately depressed”. I also notice that the treatment from Tuesday seemed to have held until Friday’s treatment. In the past, a day or day and a half was about all I was getting before the effects seemed to vanish. Today, I was happy, talkative, energetic. Several people that I only know from the hospital commented how much better I look, which I hadn’t expected.

I was in the OR at 12:45 and in Recovery at 1:10. The mix today was 120mg Sexicoline (paralytic), 1000mg caffeine 40 mg Etomidate, 100mg lydicane (pre Etomidate), 100mg Fentenyl (post Etomidate), and then another 30mg in Recovery for pain. The peripheral seizure today was 48 seconds, and the EEG was 150 seconds! That’s almost twice my previous longest of 80 seconds. And the post-procedure headache was commensurate. The ringining in my ears is more pronounced today as well. Due to Fenegrin both before and after procedure, I avoided the nausea on the way home. Was home and in bed by 3:30.

Next appointment Monday at 1:00.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Response to Question: How does Taper work?

Melanie asked "How does the taper work? Do you go in for treatment every x months...?" "I don't know, exactly," is the best answer I can give you. The treating docs would like to reach what they call "remission", and then do one more treatment, and then taper the schedule such that there is a treatment every week for a few weeks, then every other, and so on down until a point is reached where the remission isn't holding as well. I'll be feeling that out a little more today, now that I'm getting to that point. Thanks for asking!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Day before #12

No doubt that things just, in general, seem different, better. I have this feeling like its Spring and I have all of these new opportunities to look forward to that were not present before. The change is very hard to explain. Everyone has experienced a “bad mood”, when everything just seems bad and nothing seems to be going right or bringing happiness. We all have them, from time to time. Mine had just lasted for several years, almost continuously, in varying degrees of “bad”, but never going away. Even times in the last couple of years which should have been nothing but “good” were tainted in some way by worry or dread or bitterness. And now, at least for now, all of that seems to have gone away. Things just have a better feel to them, in general. There are things I could be worried about: Not having a job after my short-term disability runs out next week, money, and similar issues. But I know that those things will work themselves out if I am (we are) diligent. In a nut shell, it feels like the clouds are going away for the first time in as long as I can remember (which, at present, isn’t very long.)

Treatment #12 is tomorrow. I am becoming less excited about treatments, but only because the side effects seem to be growing quickly in severity with each treatment. Short term memory is very spotty, and nausea is an increasing problem.

I met with my therapist today for the first time since starting ECT. Mark was an opponent of ECT from the outset. His only experience with the treatment was a long time ago, when a friend of his during the teen years was forced to undergo ECT. Mark’s recollection of the side effects are that his friend was a “zombie” for months and months afterward, but there was no real benefit. I think it surprised him to see that I’m not a zombie, and that I am “better” (even he commented that my affect was better than he had ever seen.)

Went to lunch with Melissa and Maggie today, and then to family therapy at Mic’s place. Mic gets discharged tomorrow and will be moving back home. The challenges never cease!

So, #12 tomorrow at 12:30. Then, I think the plan is for 3 more next week, and then a gradual taper.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Treatment #11, Bilateral #5

I have given this much thought over the last few days. Something is definitely changing with respect to my mood and my outlook. It feels like worry. In place of “depression”, which is a perspective, often times, of worry but an inability to deal with that worry so I shut things out, there seems to be real, real world concerns and approaches to those concerns. I am certainly beginning to look at what is to come, what Melissa and I will do for income, lifestyle changes which might work well at this intersection, etc. Worry about financial matters is a replacement for the “fuck it” depression approach. When depressed, I am usually indifferent between working through financial and other issues and bringing my life insurance policy into play for Melissa and the kids. I’m not thinking along the life insurance policy lines now. That’s about the best I can explain the apparent paradigm shift over the last several weeks. In relation to work, Melissa and I decided last night that, even if I wanted to (yeah, even if) go back to work right now, I couldn’t do my job. I don’t have the focus or concentration.

Treatment #11 is today at 1:30. Since changing to bilateral treatment, each treatment has seemed to have an exponentially bigger effect on memory, attitude, and similar attributes. This will be the 5th bilateral treatment. I’m still having the fight of my life with canker sores. I haven’t had one in 3 years, and I have at least 6 of them today.

In consistent fashion, treatment #11 seems to have hit just a little harder than the previous 10. My memory and cognitive ability have certainly been effected (all of which I am assured is short term). And, for some reason much stronger today than after any previous treatment, something seems different. Something in my head, in my perception of my world, seems altered. As soon as I can put my finger on what has changed, I’ll write more about that. Nausea also seems to be increasing with each treatment. I had blamed being nauseous on pain meds previously, but today I had as little meds as I could tolerate, which is less than I have had on previous occasions with no nausea, and I was very ill for the rest of the day. It might be that a cumulative effect of the seizures is nausea.

My Beck score today was 26, which is better than its been since treatment started. I DO feel better, not depressed, not suicidal. I’m concerned about my family and income and those things, but Melissa and Dr. Clopton keep telling me to focus on getting better for now and forget that stuff.
The seizure today was 20 seconds peripheral and 40 seconds EEG. Good strong rhythm on the EEG, and then a very rapid cessation of activity. My Doc gave Melissa the EEG strip from today. I’ll have to frame it. They used the same mix of chemicals as last time, including caffeine, lydicane, etomidate, sexicoline (paralytic) fentnyl for pain and to extend the anesthesia a little longer. Woke in Recovery completely lost, with no idea how I got to Recovery and no memory, at first, of being in the OR and going to sleep. Got 100mg of Fentynl in Recovery for headache, and needed every bit of it. Also got 2 Percocet before going home. Ringing in my ears is still a constant feature of the treatment, but jaw pain and muscle soreness have gone away in these latter treatments (maybe those muscles are just getting use dot the electrically induced workout.)

I learned yesterday that the long-term disability insurance I thought I had selected in my benefits package wasn’t being withheld from my checks. It wasn’t much, anyway, being based on a percentage of my “salary” and not my “bonus” (which is the bigger portion of my compensation). So, after my 6 weeks of short-term, I’ll have no continuing disability benefits and I will probably get terminated (which is no big deal…I wasn’t intending to go back after my disability leave, anyway).

I learned today that the treatment plan is to get me “into remission”, do one more treatment, and then begin to stretch the time between treatments out. After this last treatment, I think I am making good progress toward remission.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Changes -- of some sort....

Its not often that I am at a loss for words, or opinions. I am usually very good at finding words adequate for describing what I’m feeling. For the last several days, however, I have been unsuccessfully trying to find words to describe the changes I feel in relation to my mood and my treatment. I’m still searching.

My mind is ordinarily over-run with ideas, thoughts, worries, opinions, etc. My head is usually too busy. Busy such that it is sometimes hard to limit my descriptions of how I am feeling or what I am thinking to a nice succinct package of words. Much of the time, in that same vein, my thoughts, ideas and opinions are rather negative and critical, and my outlook is often indignant.

Since Friday, things seem different and evolving. I could say that I have a quieter mind. I could say that some of the usual negativity is gone. But the truth seems to be that in place of the pace at which my head usually runs I have what seems like no pace at all. I am finding it hard to put my finger on what is missing, but something is. I know, for a fact, that some things which I have learned over the past couple of weeks, things that I should remember, have escaped my memory. We have some friends going to Mexico today. They are going to an area I have been several times. I talked at length with them about the trip on Xmas Eve. And I was shocked, yesterday, to learn that they were going to Mexico. There have been a couple of gapping holes in my short term memory like that. But also missing seem to be the little queues that everyone uses (and you might not realize you use) to move from an initial idea forward, evolving that idea or plan into something more robust or more mature. An example might be “Xmas is over. I should take the Xmas lights down.” In order to accomplish that task, you have to take that concept and put it into action steps, figure out what materials you might need, when you have time to do it, who’s help you need, etc. Those subparts to taking the Xmas lights down would usually just sort of mentally follow my intention to take down the lights, and a plan would evolve without my having to do much “concentrating” on how to get it done. The subparts, right now, just don’t jump into place. I DO have to concentrate and work at planning anything which takes more than one or two steps to accomplish. And that concentration is difficult. Not because I get sided tracked or “decide” to do something different. Rather, keeping the subparts straight is tough because I just lose my trail. I forget what I was doing before I get it done. Or, I never get started because before I can get the substeps in place to get the idea into motion, I get interrupted by something else.

Now, all of that said, I must admit that I don’t feel “depressed”. My outlook on the future, while undefined and uncertain, isn’t as pessimistic as it was just a month ago. In fact, I feel like I should be more worried about things than I am. Things are likely to get a little tricky before they begin to improve. My short term disability insurance ends in two weeks. After that, I either return to work or rely on Social Security Disability to be flowing by then (applied for but not yet finalized). Given that I still have 6 or more additional treatments scheduled, returning to work in two weeks just isn’t likely. And I’m not at all sure that I want to go back to what I was doing anyway. So, there is a fair amount of uncertainty, financial and otherwise, which could very easily be driving my mood. But I know that if I don’t get well before I tackle the rest of “life”, then my effort to date will only be wasted anyway. So, I have little choice but to see this treatment through, fighting the social security and insurance battles along the way and working part time to make ends meet. And being in that position alone would have, just a month ago, been enough emotional turmoil to drive me into a serious and dangerous depression.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Looking for more benefit than this

New Year’s Day! We spent the day at a friends’ house watching football. As we were arriving, Melissa mentioned the friends’ trip to Mexico, on which they are leaving tomorrow. I had no memory of them planning a trip, despite having had a lengthy conversation with them about the trip just a week ago. I now have some vague memories of that conversation, but very vague.

Today is better than yesterday. My memory still sucks, but I feel better. I can’t help wondering, however, if I am actually moving any closer toward mental health. I have been out of work now for 4 weeks, with 2 weeks of short term disability to go. Then, if necessary, long-term disability kicks in. Likewise, I am in the process of applying for Social Security Disability which will pay about $1900/month forever. I don’t feel like I am any closer to being back to work now than I was 4 weeks ago. If anything, I may be further away. Its hard to focus on getting well when I have to worry about paying the bills, whether I can keep my family in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed, and what the future holds. Hanging around waiting on a disability check on a daily basis isn't my style. I'll go stir crazy.

Just the last few days, maybe the last week, have really seemed different. I’m not sure how to explain that statement. But it feels like my life has no structure, no meaning. Like I am little more than a big burden on those around me. If there is promise of my being more than a burden at some point in the near future, then I’m ok with that. But I don’t feel or see that promise. I feel like I’m moving away from my target, not toward it. I’m not giving up. Not yet. But this is a much less straight-forward fight than I expected it to be.