Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Early Spring

Major backyard clean-up day. Its 70+ degrees in Denver (and its pretty early for that.) Picked up 7 bags of pine needles yesterday. Today, got three bags of sticks. Just sticks that my dog likes to chew on. He has toys and bones, but he likes the chew on wood. My backyard is such a disaster. I’ve neglected it for quite some time, and my lab-mutt dog (he’s about 4) runs the fence perimeter and barks constantly. 75% of the grass is dead, he’s run over sprinklers so often that heads are missing, and the dirt track around the perimeter is just lovely. I have a lot of work to do.

Melissa and I ran some minor errands and had lunch at Fatburger. If you’ve never had a Fatburger burger, you’re missing out. Got my motorcycle started and went for the first ride in about 6 months. It was fun, but it was different. For as long as I can remember, riding the bike was sort of my everyday way of tempting fate. It was rebellious and sort of a “if I get hit and killed, I’ll go out doing what I want to be doing so big deal! Come and get me.” Today, I was much more cautious and timid. I don’t “want” to die now. I’ve worked too hard and come too far.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

February 25: The Day After

Today was a tough day. My son is pretty severely mentally ill. He has lived in a residential treatment center (“RTC”) for most of the last year, and just moved back home about 2 months ago. He is, by any standards, a tough kid to deal with due to his illness. Nothing is ever enough or what he wanted or fair or sufficient. Its just the way things are. When he had bad days, we all have bad days. Today was one of his bad days. I did recognize a difference, however. In the past, when he would be having a bad day, I would just not be around. I couldn’t deal with it in a constructive way, so I chose to not deal with it at all. Its what seemed to work best. Today, I was able to deal constructively with what was going on, and be part of the resolution. The price I paid for that was a mood that felt very much like a slide back into “depression”, but which lifted much more quickly and didn’t have any prolonged negativity. Interesting.

Otherwise, I was still a bit wiped out from the treatment yesterday. My head seems to usually be pretty foggy the day after as a norm. I did some out of the ordinary things, like going to the grocery store with my wife for the weekly shopping.

February 24: Treatment #24

An even 2 dozen. Today was ECT treatment #24. That’s a lot. Most people, it seems, have 6 to 15. It seems inconceivable that I have been there 24 times, and that I have been doing this now for 3 months (and that its been 3 months since I have been to work.)

My Beck score today was 9, which is outstanding (considering it was once as high as 40.) I’ve lost 4 pounds, down to 236. it seems that many things which I used to crave, sweets in particular, just don’t sound good anymore. Blood pressure was good today, ranging from 135/78 to 117/74. I am extremely sore today. The chest and shoulder weight workouts from this week, in addition to the 2 hours of racquetball yesterday, did a number on me. Its hell getting old.

My seizure was 55 seconds today. The A Doc today did things in a different order than previous docs did. They use 1000mg of caffeine to enhance my seizure, but they usually give that to me after I’m asleep. Today, I got it first. It creates this horrible taste/smell in your mouth, and I’ve been enjoying it all day. Starbucks, it most certainly is not!

I was pretty talkative and social (for me) today. I thanked everyone at the hospital as I was leaving. It wasn’t until the ride home that the nausea hit me. I felt like HELL for the rest of the day. I had a marvelous headache, even with 3 percocet and a handful of ibuprofen in my system. I laid on the couch and watched movies for the entire afternoon. I’m hoping the “feeling good” comes back tomorrow.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

This is becoming a habit...

Another good day! There was actually a time today when I was driving and thought to myself “I don’t just feel good, I feel great!” My energy was good, my concentration was sharp, my outlook on life was good and I was having fun.

I played racquetball with a couple neighborhood guys today. It was the second time we have played recently. I used to play 3 or 4 times a week and had a pretty solid game. I had to quit playing because, as my mood problems developed, I lost the ability to control my temper (with myself). Last time we played, my game sucked. Today, it started to come back. We had a good time and played for a couple hours. I’ll pay for it tomorrow.

Back to The Donut again today for a Gyros for lunch. I’m hooked. Did some work around the house, did some cleaning and some painting. I really am not looking forward to my treatment tomorrow, but I know I need to go.

Another good day!

Its becoming a routine. Today had some soft spots, but still good by any standard I can apply from the last 5 years. Worked more on Mic’s wall repair, worked on one of Mic’s toys which seems to be out of repair. Didn’t get it to work, but satisfied myself that it is beyond repair. Spent some time measuring walls for replacing baseboards. One of the things I have noticed recently, which I haven’t noticed previously but which has been true for a while, is that the baseboards in most of the house need to be replaced. I will do that gradually while I am home. I had an appointment with my therapist today at 3:00. I had it in my calendar at 3:00. My last appointment, last week, was at 4:00. Somehow, I got it in my head that today was at 4:00, and I missed my appointment. Brilliant.

Had lunch at a place I have meant to try forever. Get this, thee is this donut shop called, appropriately, "The Donut". Its a mom and pop place owned by this Greek couple. Super nice people. I empathize with them because they compete with the big chain donut places like Lamars and Krispy Kreme. Anyway, they have been serving lunch for a couple of years. They advertise Gyros (Greek pita bread, lamb, feta cheese, lettuce, tomato, some sort of unique dressing) in the window. I love Gyros, but most places serve crap. So, I finally gave them a try today. It was so good I'm going back tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A day in the sunshine

Today was a good day. I had been wanting to put a regular workout into my daily schedule. I woke this morning and, as I was watching the “Today” show, I decided today was a good day to start. Did one body part weights, and walked for 30 minutes on the treadmill. Installed a dining room lamp for a neighbor as a favor. Picked the dogs up at the groomer. Read at Starbucks for an hour. Sanded and added a coat of mud to the wall repair I did in Mic’s room, did 2 loads of laundry, and did some general cleaning. Spent the evening with the family watching the Olympics. My mood was solid all day, with no weak spots or areas of concern. Melissa and I both noticed today that I am noticing things around the house that I have been missing for quite some time. Things like the wear and tear my dog is putting on the backyard, that our baseboards need to be replaced, that things need updating, etc. Things that haven’t changed recently (have been as they are now for several years), but I’m just more coherent and aware.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Long President's Day Weekend

Descent day. Neither great nor poor. Kinda felt like I could feel depression creeping up on me this morning, but it seems to have gone away. I am having a bit of a problem with feeling like I’m not very useful or that I’m not doing my share for the household. This “not working” thing should be great, and I should be enjoying it while Melissa and my P Doc are telling me to take it easy and get well. But my “job” in the household is making the money to pay the bills. That’s what makes me feel useful and whole. And I’m not doing that, other than collecting a little but of disability. Giving much thought to getting part-time job doing something “light duty” like waiting tables at an upscale place or working at a grocery store, etc.

I think I’m going to take a day and go snowboarding. I haven’t been up all year, and I have the time and opportunity to go right now. Maybe later this week.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Pretty foggy day, overall. My head just seemed to be in a bit of a blur from the ECT yesterday. Maggie had a basketball game at 12:30. The morning was good from a mood standpoint. I did my best to stay away from Mic. He’s a little manic and talking WAY too much about nothing. Maggie scored 6 of her teams 13 points in the game. The rest of the day was calm, lots of Olympics, dinner at home. Played a couple hours of PS2. Mic watched for a while.

February 16: Treatment #23

Treatment #23 today at 2:30. Beck score was 13 today, which is up from its best, but still under control. My PDoc stressed to me today that I need to stop thinking about getting back to work, and focus on getting well. If I don't do things in that order, getting back to work won't last long anyway.

My peripheral seizure today was 35 seconds, but the EEG activity showed 115 seconds (which is a long seizure) with excellent suppression. I woke up completely lost. It was a tough seizure. I had 100mg of Fentanyl and Ibuprofen for pain. Got out of recovery and home pretty quickly today (treatment at 2:30, home before 5:00.) Was pretty nauseous for most of the evening.

I'm not scheduled to go back until next Friday. I'm getting that "don't want to go back anymore" feeling pretty strongly now.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Good solid day.

I had a great meeting with my therapist last evening. As I mentioned yesterday, I am/was having some significant trouble differentiating between biologically and psychologically driven concerns. I know that some of the trouble I had over the weekend, the suicidal ideation, crying, doubting whether I was ever feeling better, hopelessness, were resulting from tapering my ECT treatments too quickly. Those things improved after treatment on Monday. I also think some of the improvement after Monday was psychological and relative to the increasing pressure I am putting on myself to return to work. Because I was “done” with treatment, the pressure to return to work was growing quickly. After I had a treatment, whether I knew it or not at the time, the pressure was off. I couldn’t go back to work because I was being treated and so I got off of my own back.

My therapist (Mark) focused on one area: Where is the pressure to return to work coming from? Why do I feel this drive to get back to work as soon as possible? Melissa isn’t pushing me. She keeps telling me that we are financially sound until a certain point in the future, and that there is no hurry before that time. I’m still being paid “disability” insurance and, although its completely unimportant, my job is still there waiting for me when I’m ready to return. No one else is driving me. Its just me. I’m talking to people about going back to the practice of law, I’m submitting applications at Home Depot and grocery stores and book stores. Melissa suggested I talk to some upper-end restaurants about waiting tables 2 or 3 lunch shifts a week just to give me a feeling of doing something, but doing something I enjoy and that won’t have a negative effect on my health. Mark made the point that, knowing me as he does, he would expect me to be the last person to “milk” this situation and not return to work when appropriate. And that returning to work too soon, and then realizing that I wasn’t ready, it will be very hard to get back out. Just not going back until I’m ready is much easier to accomplish, and better for my mental health.

We talked about creating some objective criterion for assessing my readiness to return to work, and I agreed that, before making any decisions in that regard, that I will consult Mark, Melissa, or my ECT doc first. In fact, consulting my ECT doc seems to be a good idea anyway. As many patients as she has had, she has to have some good ideas about when its time to get back into normal life.

As of 3:00, there has been no negativity or noticeable mood issues today. I have been to the dentist for a crown replacement, read, done some writing, worked on a couple projects around the house, and been very level all day. I think that taking the pressure off of myself to hurry back to work is helping me stabilize.

Took my son out for dinner, just he and I. Some days, that’s not possible because of the clash between his mental illness and mine. Today, however, went well all day for me. I didn’t eat at all today. I had the dentist this morning, and then I was numb until about 1:00 and then just didn’t feel like eating. That’s not an easy thing for me. I’m too big a person (I’m about 6’2” and 230 lbs) to go all day without food. So Mic and I went to this Chinese buffet (mistake) and now I feel like I’m going to puke.

I made the mistake of reading other peoples’ submissions on the Internet regarding their own ECT experiences. Most seemed to be very negative, and now I’m nervous about my treatment tomorrow. Why reading from other people would make me nervous when I have 22 treatments of my own history, I have no idea, but it does.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bio or Psycho?

Today has been a pretty good day. Its hard to have a bad day when your tax guy tells you you are getting a big chunk of cash back. That'll help supplement the disability insurance income!

I made an appointment with my therapist for this evening. I was supposed to see him Monday, but went for ECT instead. I'm having trouble telling what part of my mood shifts are biological (which would be helped by ECT/meds) and what part is psychological. I'm beating myself up quite a bit because I'm not working, and I really don't think I could return to the job I was in before starting ECT. Likewise, as I think about it, I just can't come up with many, if any, jobs that I think I could handle right now. When I was feeling at my best, there were several jobs I applied for that I was pretty sure I could handle. None, however, which pay as much as I am accustomed to making. And I don't want to lose my disability for sake of working a job making less money. Especially if I wind up having a problem with that job when and if my mood crashes again. Not sure if I'm making sense, but I'm trying to provide an example of the loops my mind is going through daily.

I'm not good at sitting at home and being unproductive. I need to feel like I am participating and providing for my family. Even if that participation is working at a grocery store or Home Depot or something equally beneath my past professional level. But I guess I am sort of afraid of a job of that type and what it might do to my self esteem, and mood stability and my income.

These issues are things that I don't really think are resulting from a chemical problem in my brain. I think these issues come from what I do with these thoughts and ideas as I have them. I haven't seen my therapist since before beginning ECT (and it just doesn't seem possible that that was more than 2 months ago!) It will be good to talk with him.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Like magic...

Been home all day. I promised not to drive (due to treatment yesterday), but I’m sure I could with no issues. I stayed home and cleaned, waited for the carpet steam cleaner guy, picked up dog poop in the backyard, read, etc. Nothing in my mood or my head that seems negative today. I’ve done some job prospecting stuff today, but nothing major. I’m scheduled for treatment again Monday, unless things get bad again sooner, and then I’m supposed to call for an appointment for Friday. Seems like the treatment yesterday has chased the monster away again for now.

I was home all day today. The day went well until about 4:30, and all of a sudden I didn’t want to be around anyone, and I just completely spaced out. I couldn’t think or concentrate and everything just seemed to flat. I wasn’t really “depressed”, but things changed from before 4:30 to after. I decided this evening that I am going to call for a Friday treatment time. Things are better than they were this weekend, but still not right.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Short update...

Thank you SO MUCH to those of you, and there were several, who took the time to comment and encourage me. I feel like I owe several people an update just to let you know where things stand as of Monday at 2:00. I was able to get in for treatment today. My hospital and team of professionals (and they are certainly professionals) are incredible. They worked me in this morning. I'm home now and can't be up for long, but I'm already feeling a little better after today's treatment. My p-doc said that she is sure that we just tapered too quickly, that that happens sometimes (varies patient to patient), and that we can fix it. My Beck today was back up to a 31 (was a 6 when I quit treatment 10 days ago.) I got a comment from someone that said his/her Beck has never been below a 43. That is a very strong person, and someone who should really give ECT a try. You have everything to gain. Its scary, its not much fun, but it DOES work.

More later, and thanks for everyone's encouragement and letting me know I have readers out there. I'm back on safe ground for now, and scheduled for treatment again next Monday, unless things get bad again before then. Gotta go nurse this headache!

The Rollercoaster

As they say, “Today is a new day.” I don’t know what yesterday was all about, or where the mood came from, but it seems to be gone today. I woke this morning feeling much better. I was afraid that my mood might decay like it did yesterday as the day went on, but at 2:00, its still good. I went to lunch with my daughter. Spending time with her is always good for my mental health. We played some basketball and I helped her with her lay-ups when we got home.

I have spent a lot of time today thinking about what was on my mind yesterday, and what was driving my mood. I have a fear, which never goes away but gets better and worse, that I am not and will not be able to support my family and that, as a result, we will lose our home and way of life. I also have this feeling of guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness which comes from my not working, and really not doing a lot around the house. Melissa works part-time, pays the bills and manages the money, and really has been taking care of everything while I have been in treatment and getting well. That’s all fine, as long as I can see that I will be doing my part again after the “getting well” is done. But with total melt-downs like yesterday, I get this notion that I will never be able to manage going to work or managing our finances or doing much of anything else. I certainly would not have been capable of going to work yesterday.

3:00. Mood is sliding a little. I can’t sit in the room with my son and watch the Olympics. He is just not good for my mood when my mood is fragile.

I’ve been thinking more and more about work and working. I can envision going to work in the lawyer role I interviewed for last week. That’s a pretty high level but low stress and low volume position with people I know and have worked with. But anything else, including the job I left when I started ECT (I still “work” there but I’m on disability), I just can’t imagine doing. I wonder if the commitement to going to the Dumb Friends League (animal shelter) to volunteer yesterday was what started my mood decline. It feels like almost any commitment, where I have to be somewhere to do something at a certain time, creates this very strong drag on my mood. I feel like that should make me feel lazy or useless, but it doesn’t. Its not that I want to lay on the couch and do nothing instead of working. I want to do something and be active and engaged. I just can’t think of anything I feel like I could tolerate doing for any period of time. I feel lost.

This mood, where I am now, is difficult to explain. Its flat, or hollow, or empty. I feel hopeless and trapped and like there are so many negative “things” in my head that I need to deal with in order to be happy, but there are so many I can’t even begin to get them organized. And I know that, in reality, not much has changed in my world since just a week ago when I was feeling so good. I can’t help thinking that, maybe, I was never really mentally healthier or better. But rather that the ECT just confused me enough that I could pretend that all of these negative things weren’t there, and that I could pretend to feel better. And that when the ECT stopped and that confusion wore off, the ability to pretend wore off too.

4:15: My mood has continued to slide. Feels something like one part of my consciousness was dragging me down, forcing all of these negative things (i.e. employment, income, my mentally ill son, things around my house that need fixing, etc.) into the front of my mind. And there was another part of my mind that, for a while, fought all of that off, questioned whether I was “really” upset about those things and felt like I was consciously forcing myself to feel bad because I felt like I should feel bad. The negativity won that battle. I began to feel like I would rather not exist at all than to do anything or be anywhere I could think of. It just felt bad. Not as bad as yesterday, but certainly not as good as it has been recently. Just bad.

6:00: I don’t think I felt as overall bad today. I wasn’t as out of control emotionally, but I was at least as depressed. And certainly more unsafe to myself. There was a point today where I realized that I didn’t have the means to end my life today if I wanted to. I didn’t have access to the things I would need to make that happen in the way I would employ if I decided to do that. That, alone, made me feel trapped. No matter how bad things get in my head, I always know that the one bit of control that I have involves ending my life. If felt like my head, or my world, was so out of control that the control over the decision to kill myself would have provided at least that slim bit of solaced. I also spent a fair amount of time today thinking about how tired I am of impacting my family’s life. It is terrible enough that my world feels like this to me. It is unacceptable, to me, that I impose my misery on my family. My wife has spent 21 days in the waiting room at the hospital while my treatments are performed. 21 three to four hour periods waiting. And she hasn’t complained once. I know that I could not have been as strong for her as she has been for me, and I know that no one else would have been as strong for me either. Without her by my side, I would not still be here. I can’t ask any more of her.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Trap Door to Hell

I had a terrible night’s sleep last night, or terrible for me anyway. I woke up freezing at one point and never got warm or back to sleep really good. I was also really sore from racquetball Thursday, and it hurt every time I moved, which woke me up often. Nonetheless, I woke up in a pretty good mood.

During the night, I had developed a craving for breakfast (eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast). So, When I woke up at 7:30, I decided that I had time to get breakfast at Waffle House before having to leave for Maggie’s basketball game at 9:00. I got up, and went for breakfast. I was in a good mood during all of this time, or at least I didn’t notice being in a bad mood or feeling any of the usual symptoms of my depression.

From the time we left for Maggie’s game forward, my mood worsened. I first noticed it when we got home. I was cleaning out my closet (something I had had on the list of “things to do” for some time. I had a couple hours before needing to leave for my shift at the Dumb Friends League (the “DFL”, the local animal shelter where I volunteer.) I hadn’t been to DFL since before I started ECT, about 2 months. Earlier in the week, I was excited to be going back. Its something I enjoy. Today, I really wasn’t looking forward to going.

I did my shift at DFL, but only because I felt like I had to. Its about 25 minutes drive from home to DFL. Too much time for me to be alone, thinking, when my head is heading in the wrong direction. It became obvious, during the drive, that the feeling good, being happy, looking forward to the future, and those feelings were gone. They weren’t sort of in the background. They were gone, and it felt like they had never been here. It was worse than if they had never been here, however. Now I felt bad, and I knew that I could feel good and I knew how that felt. I had the ability to miss those good feelings.

I fought my feelings for my 2 hours at DFL. It’s a 3 hour shift, but there were 2 of us today and not a whole lot of dogs to tend to, so it went quicker than usual. I was really glad. I just wanted out of there. I realized how miserable I was, and that I didn’t want to be there. I was aware of these things. But I couldn’t, despite trying, think of anywhere I wanted to be or anything I wanted to be doing. I just wanted to “turn off.” I wanted to not exist. I found myself, more than once, composing a revised suicide letter in my head. Apologizing to Melissa for everything I put here through, for nothing. Apologizing to Maggie for the pain I would be causing her for the sake of ending my own pain. I had the headache of my life from fighting back the tears. I so wanted to break down, right there in the yard where I walk dogs, and cry like a baby.

I can’t really figure out what I am so upset and sad about, where these feelings are coming from. It might be fear that I am and will be unable to support my family, that we will lose our home and all that we have because I can’t do what I need to do to keep those things. It might just be that I’m unhappy anywhere I am and doing whatever I’m doing, and I can’t get away from that unhappiness. It is SO confusing having these terrible feelings today, wanting to be dead, after feeling so good for many days prior.

Melissa reminded me that my P-Doc, the ECT doc, told me that if a relapse is going to occur, that its likely to occur in the first 6 weeks, sooner rather than later, and that it just means that we quit too soon. I’m glad that she reminded me of this fact. Its real easy to feel like a failure when all of this hard work and time and energy put into ECT turns to shit in the course of 24 hours.

I will do everything I can to survive until Monday. I have vowed to myself that I will NOT open the Word file that is my suicide letter. I won’t work on it even though I really want to. Because I know that I won’t allow myself to cross that threshold of no return without having said my peace to those in my life who I know I will be hurting when I leave.

You people out there reading the BLOG, please leave comments. Let me know you are out there. I need that right now.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sorry so slow....

Ok, so I've gotten, now, 3 e-mails from people I don't know, but who have been reading my blog, and who are less than happy that I have "just quit writing" now that treatments are done. My apologies...I really didn't know anyone, other than a select few, was reading. I'll try to do better in keeping you posted on my "recovery" as things progress.

I am, at present, trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. As many of you may, or may not, know, I am a lawyer by training and experience. Five years ago, the public company for whom I served as Assistant General Counsel folded. Just prior to that bankruptcy, I decided, somewhat on a whim, that I wanted to open an Internet Coffee House. And, thus, the folly began...

I planned, designed, had built, opened, and managed the coffee shop for 2 years, during which I also practiced law sort of part time with my former General Counsel. It was during the decompression (from practicing law to running a coffee shop...big change) that depression first became part of my life. I suspect, however, that I had been dealing with mania for quite some time. 2 years after the coffee shop opened, due to location, "9/11", location, and who knows what else, it had drained me of every cent I had, and I was forced to close. Some very ugly financial times were to follow.

During these ugly times, just before the business failed, I literally fell into the mortgage business with a retail mortgage group across the street from my shop. After the business closed and while I was battling with my creditors, this was my sole source of income for my family. As things progressed and my creditor troubles continued and the stress mounted, etc, my bi-polar problems (primarily depression) magnified.

For the 3 years that followed, on an increasing basis, I dealt with depression. Returning to the practice of law just didn't seem possible. As the refinance market started to slow, and my income began to fluctuate, I was forced to look for more stable mortgage income. Working for a home builder was the answer I found. During the first year of that period, even while my depression worsened, I made more money than I ever had in my career. About 18 months into that employment, however, the stress, driving the depression, forced me to seek less demanding work. I worked with two other builders in the 12 months that followed, but my mental health continued to worsen. I was, eventually, extremely suicidal and just plain unable to function. My last mortgage position would, at one point in my career, been a total piece of cake. It paid about a third of the compensation from my highest paying position (about half of my last lawyer job). And it was just, at that point, still too much for me. I was running out of places to go to earn enough money to support my family, despite my Bachelors degree, a Law degree and an additional graduate degree.

Now that I am post-ECT, and still technically on "disability" from my current builder mortgage job, I am, again, faced with choosing a career direction. Only this time, the pendulum is swinging the other direction. I'm done with mortgage, I think. I'm not "sure" what I want to do, but today I am having lunch with my former General Counsel and his law partner to talk about joining their law practice. I'm not sure they want me, and I'm not sure that's what I want, but its a start! A start I would never have gotten if not for ECT. Of that I am certain.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Now that #21 has come and gone, and my series of ECT treatments seems to have come to an end, my focus is on recovery and well-being. Saturday, the first day after the last treatment, was terrible. I was wiped out all day, tired, headachey, joints were sore, and I just didn't feel like doing anything. The less often I have treatments, it seems, the worse they make me feel.

Sunday, Super Bowl Sunday!, was better, but still pretty sluggish. I keep comparing to the few days before the last treatment. Those days were REALLY GOOD. I felt good, lots of energy, my world made sense, and I wanted to be part of it. Saturday and Sunday didn't make that grade. Today, Monday, however, is getting back into that league. Today I went to a parent meeting relating to my daughter's swim team, volunteered on an art project at my daughter's school for a couple hours, walked around a "going out of business" mall with my wife for an hour, and have just had an overall high energy, good mood day.

Do I have some memory loss? Yep. No question...there are some holes in my memory, and it seems impossible to me that its been 7 weeks since I was last at work. There is just no way it could have been that long. There's no way there could have been 21 trips to the hospital...21 trips to the operating room...21 awakenings in the Recovery Room. There just isn't enough data in the memory bank to document 21 treatments, or the time period during which those treatments took place.

But I can tell you for certain that prior to ECT, I wasn't having ANY days of the quality of the days I have experienced over the last couple of weeks. Even my bad days now are better than my better days then. And my good times now can't even be compared. For anyone suffering from depression, really suffering, suicidal...you owe it to yourself to at least do the work to find out about ECT, ask the questions, before you throw in the towel.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

My Dream Thursday Night

Early Friday morning: I don’t remember many of my dreams. Most of them, I don’t even remember having, although I know I dream, everyone does. I just have no recollection of mine at all, and the parts I do remember are never cohesive or make any sense. This one doesn’t make sense, but its cohesive, and its far-out and I had to write about it. Its 7:00 Friday morning, I have no reason to be up this early, other than I didn’t want to forget this dream before I got it down on paper. After telling Melissa the part she had time to listen to (which I had to short-cut because she was pressed for time), I was too awake to go back to sleep, so I decided to write. Here we go..

I was having this series of appointments to which I had to go. I wasn’t allowed to drive, and I was going to these appointments with Mic and Maggie, my kids who aren’t old enough to drive. Further, Mic is mentally ill and just recently moved back home from a residential treatment center. He is prone to these extreme fits of rage and lack of control when things don’t go his way.

I was going to these appointments with Mic and Maggie, and we were getting there by way of this “V” shaped table, at which all three of us would sit. The table’s sides, the two sides of the “V”, were each about 4 feet long, and the table was made of this heavy metal welded frame, like a school lunch table, supporting this rustic oak top that was about two inches thick. The top was very oddly cut such that the sides of the “V” were cut very crookedly (I’m not sure all of this table detail matters, but it adds to the weird factor.)

We would sit at this table, and we would get to the appointment. I’m not sure how, but somehow Mic thought he could “drive” this table, and so it would work. These appointments were at my former office. That office is, in real life, situated along side of a very busy, very straight wide long road way out on the east side of town. Most of the actual drive there is on this long straight road. Only the first very little bit is meandering to get to this long straight road before the long straight shot to the office (again, a lot of detail for a relatively minor aspect of the dream.)

At times I didn’t have an appointment, I would go to another place, like a job. I don’t know how I got to this place (I couldn’t drive), but when I got there, I would be with my father, and we would be underwater on a very dark place. We were wearing scuba gear, but very limited gear. I had an air hose, not as elaborate as a regulator, and a light also on a hose like attachment, both attached to this vest thing I had on. We would dive to this building which was like a huge unfinished house. It had drywall, all of which was unfinished, and tables covered with scraps of building materials. On the drywall walls, in many places, the workers had drawn dart boards, and frequently played darts. It didn’t matter that the walls got full of holes because they were covered before the place was finished. I’m not sure what my job was or why I was there, but somehow I lost track of time or got side-tracked or fell asleep and, when I realized what had happened, I realized I was going to be late to my LAST appointment. (Today is my last ECT treatment in the real world.) I was a bit frantic, and I hustled around and got finished (with whatever it was I was doing) and got back to my vest and air and light hose, and then I found my father so we could dive back to where we started. I realized that I had left my light on the whole time and, just as we got in the water, my battery died! My father’s battery was dead too. It was very dark, and we kept getting lost on the swim back, and it took us much longer than it would otherwise have taken. We finally got there.

When we got there, my kids were waiting on me for the drive to the appointment (in the table.) it occurred to me that you can’t drive a table, and that up until this point, I had just taken the rides in the table without questioning how they worked. Looking around outside, near where the table was, I realized that it looked a lot like the outside of the dorm at my college, and there was this line of young ladies dressed in black and white Quaker/Pilgrim dresses counting pieces of candy from these huge cloth bags into plastic pumpkin tubs (this has nothing to do with the dream, but again, weird factor.) I asked Maggie about the “driving” the table thing. Her response was “Shhh. If Mic knows he can’t drive a table, then he won’t be able to. Right now, he just thinks he can drive the table, so we go along with it and it works. I agreed, and we went to the table. It turns out that Mic and Maggie had been using this man’s table. The man had known they had been borrowing his table outside, but of course, he had no idea that the table had been leaving the premises…tables can’t be driven!

The man who owned the table, and all of the other people in the area were strangely dressed. They were all dressed in garb of the Renaissance period (picture Robin Hood and Maid Mariann.) The man had one very bushy, unruly eyebrow. The other eyebrow was missing completely. When the man realized that the table actually had to leave the premises for the use we were making of it, he was not happy. Suddenly he realized that he should be being compensated for use of his table. We had no money with us, but I promised to bring him a gift certificate from someplace as compensation. He wasn’t thrilled, but he accepted.

We began our “drive” in the table, which to me seemed like we were carrying the table and walking. It was a very heavy table. Along the way, after we were on the long straight road to the appointment, we passed someone I knew. He asked why we were carrying a table and walking instead of driving. Oh No! This blew the cover on the driving thing. Now Mic realized that he couldn’t “drive” a table. Those who know Mic will understand when I say he “did a Mic thing” He lost his temper and flew into a rage, banging his head on the table and crying uncontrollably and screaming about “now I can’t drive the table anymore and that no body cared about him and that he was just going to go live someplace else…blah blah blah.” Not I had a dilemma: I was already late for my appointment, I wasn’t allowed to drive, now Mic couldn’t drive, and we weren’t there yet. I told Mic that I was going to drive, despite my restriction, because I was able to drive straight down the road to the appointment. Mic, having trouble generally in situations like this and being able to ask himself “Is it better to break the letter of the law in this case where no damage will come from it, or not make it to the appointment at all, wouldn’t let me drive. I was extremely frustrated. I either had to convince Mic to pull over and let me drive the table that he now realized that he couldn’t “drive”, or I had to get him to pull over so I could just pick the table up and carry the damned thing to the appointment.

Suddenly, I realized: I was just trying to go back to sleep a little while ago. I had awoken too early and was having trouble going back to sleep. In my dream, I, at that point, became pretty sure that I was, in fact, asleep. Therefore, if I could just wake up, this dilemma would resolve itself. Despite my effort, I couldn’t force myself awake, nor could I completely convince myself, until I was awake, that I actually WAS asleep. Slowly…I woke up. Once awake, I had a really good laugh at the absurdity of performance my brain had just put on. Because I never remember my dreams, and this being such a fun one, I had to get up and get it on paper so I can now, as Maggie put it, “Never, ever, ever forget it as long as I live, even if I really want to.”

February 3: Treatment #21 - The last one

Today brought the end of a long series of ECT treatments. Today was the 21st treatment, the last scheduled one. I woke up early today and had trouble going back to sleep, as described in my previous entry about my dream. I felt great today. My Beck score, pre-treatment, was 6, the lowest its been. Remember, I started at 40. I was much more talkative with the nurses today. My blood pressure, which has been an issue in the past, was 113/79 before and 123/79 after treatment. My seizure was 1 minute and 18 seconds. Not the longest of the series, but plenty long. Because I hadn't had a treatment in a week, I woke up really disoriented and with a sore jaw and head. Still had all of my crowns today, however.

The A-Doc neglected to use lydicane before the Etomidate today. I whined about the pain as the Etomidate was going in. The fact that she didn't know she was supposed to use Lydicane made me worry a little about what else she didn't know. But she mentioned her amazement at the amount of Etomidate she had to use (2 vials), which she said was the most she had ever had to use on anyone.

Woke in Recovery 1 pretty out of it. It took me a minute to get my bearings. The nurse medicated my throbbing headache with a total of 150mg of Fentenyl. My headache went away, but the Fentenyl made me nauseous before it was all said and done. The ride home and the afternoon were rough. Headache was persistent, despite the Fentenyl and Percocet (x2).

Said goodbyes with hugs to the Recovery 2 nurses (the ECT nurses). We all agreed that we hope that if we see each other again, it would be at the grocery store. I am now finished with this round of ECT. In a week, I'll be allowed to drive again (unless I can talk Melissa out of my keys earlier...)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday - No Treatment

Its been a long week, with no treatments. But its given me a lot of time to think, reflect, organize my head, take inventory, and figure out who and what I am, and what I need to change to be who and what I want to be.

I woke up this morning in a good mood. A better mood than I have realized in as long as I can remember. In fact, I woke up in such a good mood that I had to wonder if it was a manic mood (and I'm still holding that question open, because I'm not sure I have a solid answer.) I am scheduled to go to some dance thing at my daughter's school this morning at 10:40, and then she asked me to stay and have lunch with her afterward. Since I can't drive yet, I'm walking to Lamar's Donuts in a few minutes (about 2 miles), and then across the park to the school so that I get my exercise in before the snow starts today. I'm not crazy about a bean and cheese burrito from the school cafeteria for lunch (we have NOTHING at home to take), but its not often that my daughter asks me to eat lunch with her, so "no" wasn't an option I was open to.

I have been paying much attention, the last couple of days especially, to my mood and my outlook and my approach to my surroundings. Until this morning, I might not have described my mood as "good", but without a doubt things are different, better. And I have racked my brain to figure out HOW things are different. I asked Melissa if she could tell a difference in me as well. Her answer: "Yes, everybody can. You are a totally different person than you were 6 weeks ago." I think most of it is that I feel like I "want" to be here. Every moment is not filled with dread and loathing. I feel like I should be stressed out of my mind. I mean, I have no job, I am on disability (which pays a fraction of the shitty salary I was earning at my last job), and that converts to long term disability in a week, which will pay an even smaller fraction. My wife makes virtually nothing. Financially, we are ok for several months, but the fuse is burning. I should be stressed about arranging an income stream. And that is certainly on my mind, I think about it. But I just don't seem to be stressed about it. I know it will happen with a modest amount of diligence on my part. I'm a very talented and intelligent (not to mention overly educated) guy. The old me would have been stressed to the core. The new me is confident that things will fall into line. That's part of the epitome of the difference.

I will be talking to an old boss of mine next week about going to work for his small law firm. I have a fair confidence that we will come to some terms and that will happen. Other thoughts I have concern Guardian ad Litem (child advocate) legal work, or something along the lines of helping people out of financial trouble as all of these variable interest rate, high LTV mortgages get more expensive and strangle people, and they realize that, under the revised bankruptcy laws, they don't have the easy-out bankruptcy options they had before in order to escape their unsecured debt. Something along the lines of debt consolidation and renegotiation/counseling. My challenge in that market is finding an efficient way to tap into the market of people I know from working in mortgages. Shouldn't be too tough. If I can be of assistance in reorganizing a client's financial picture such that they can continue to make their mortgage payment as it climbs with rising rates, but they can lessen the burden of unsecure debt through negotiation or bankruptcy, there is a never-ending market for that service.

Got a ride (still can't drive due to the treatments) from a neighbor to Tattered Cover Bookstore. Its the greatest bookstore ever, except for the other Tattered Cover (downtown), which is older, better, but closing. Next to Tattered Cover is Fatburger, quite possibly the best burger joint in the world. Had lunch and read/people watched at tattered Cover for a couple of hours. Had a few moments of mood shift while I was there. Can't pinpoint what was going on, but it had to do with feeling bad for not working, wondering what I am going to do. It didn't last long. Great day, overall.