What the fuck happened?

Writing this on February 24, 2016.

What… the fuck… happened two years ago??  I have been re-reading, and in a few posts editing out details that may be even vaguely identifying… and there’s a big missing piece there.

I have a post (“The ECT Unit Phones”) about how I didn’t show up for my treatment on Monday, Dec 16.

I remember now that at some point (I can only imagine it was in the week of Dec 9, after Treatment #8) that I had been sitting on my couch just sobbing and TheEx had apparently had enough, or felt he was in over his head, or whatever.  For whatever reason he went and got on the phone in the other room and I didn’t really pay attention – I just kept crying.  He told me that cops were on their way and I couldn’t get my shit together enough to do anything about it (like leave the house for example), I just sat there crying more.

The next thing I knew, two cops were standing there in my living room asking me if I was willing to come with them.  I agreed to, because it was a hypothetical question obviously.  They put me in their cop car to take me to the emergency department, and I don’t remember anything about it – was I handcuffed? Did they talk to me? What did they say when we got there?  No clue.

The next memory I have after that is being in a bed up on what was obviously the psych ward and eventually a shrink showed up and asked what I wanted. I said that obviously I needed some serious help,now, so were they going to try and fix my medications, or what? I thought that was a reasonable suggestion – what better place to try and aggressively adjust some drugs than there?  He snickered (if my memory serves) and said that “wasn’t going to happen”.  They gave me meals with a plastic fork, which I tried to use to cut myself, and a bunch of bullshit worksheets, and then let me out after a day.

I don’t remember anything else which is really upsetting — the memory I have of me being in the bed is just like a dream image, no real detail — and this was a Real Thing, a Big Deal, that happened to me!

I wish I had blogged about this at the time.  I don’t remember why I didn’t.  I can surmise that I was so upset about being depressed AND not being able to remember fuck-all that TheEx thought I was in serious trouble, and that I didn’t show up for treatment #9 because I either was still in the hospital or had returned home but had had enough of that, thank you very much.

Still, it’s such a creepy, freaky feeling — that this happened and I have had dreams that I remember more clearly than this.  Fucking ECT.

I’ve since found the quote,

“What these shock doctors don’t know is about writers…and what they do to them…What is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business? It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient.”

-Ernest Hemingway

That poor bastard.  Apparently they put him through 36 shock treatments, and he “would get on his knees and cry and beg his wife not to send him back for more shock treatments” because he couldn’t even remember his own name, until he killed himself with a shotgun one day after his last (36th) shock treatment.

I don’t give two shits how it’s supposed to be a fine-and-dandy last option for people.  I don’t think it should be given to anyone ever again with the lie that it might cause “mild and temporary” memory loss.  Tell people straight up that you’ll scramble them so hard they can’t remember what their name is or where the fuck they live and see how many are lining up then, you fucking doctors.

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December 20, 2013: I Don’t Remember When I Forgot

I have an appointment with my shrink in a couple hours…

I just reread all of these blog entries, and it’s not clear to me where things went from having some problems with my memory, or not being able to remember certain things, to everything being a complete blank. I feel like we would have to go back to July or August to find a point where I actually had any memory at all. I don’t remember watching the movie Flight, which I blogged about back in November. I apparently got into a fender bender before I started treatment, (which I never heard anything about from the insurance company, and TheEx says that it was just touching bumpers and trading a bit of paint) nothing serious. Still, I don’t remember it at all.

The ECT brochure says under possible side effects that you may have “mild memory loss for recent events.” I don’t think completely forgetting everything from the past five months falls under that description. I asked TheEx whether that sounded accurate to him and he said he also thought that the brochure completely understated things. I won’t, or can’t, say that I wouldn’t have chosen to get treatment if I knew that this was a possibility, but at least I would’ve been prepared. I probably would have done some more preparation as well.

My insurance premium, which is automatically drawn out of my bank account every month, bounced at the end of November just because I completely forgot about it. Their usual policy is to demand the premiums for the rest of the year at once, which would be almost $1000. I don’t have that kind of money, so I explained to the agent that it was a complete mistake and that I was very sorry, and asked if there was anything they could do. She looked it up and saw that I’ve been their client for some 15 years and have never once missed a payment before, so she made an exception for me. they’re just going to re-withdraw the one month, charge me an NSF fee, and let it keep going on a monthly basis. However, I’m completely paranoid now what else I might be forgetting.

December 18, 2013: The ECT Unit Phones

The nurse from the ECT suite called to find out what happened to me on Monday (Dec 16.) I told her that I couldn’t remember anything, and that I found this so distressing I didn’t even know what to do. She said obviously they wouldn’t expect me to come back if that was the case, and wished me well.

I was hoping that she would be able to provide some concrete reassurance, like “oh that’s very common, but all of our patients find that their memories are completely restored within two weeks.” No such luck.

December 17, 2013: The Cat is Sick

Butler (my cat) seemed really unhappy today. Not in a depressed way, but as if he were in pain or uncomfortable. He crawled into the smallest cubby part of his cat tree and stayed in there for hours. usually you wouldn’t even be able to shove him in there for all of the tea in China. He’s much more likely to want to sprawl out across the entire loveseat, or lay on his cat basket which is a good couple feet wide, or be on the bed, but in any case he’s all about stretching out. so it was completely unusual for him to be crawling into this tiny little part of this cat tree.

The other thing is that he was meowing, and not just a curious meow, or an “I’m hungry” meow, but this agitated sort of meow over and over and over and over. it was driving me completely crazy. I thought there was something wrong, and that he was suffering, and I couldn’t stand to see it. or rather, to hear it. He had had a few other symptoms over the past month or so; for example, he’s been throwing up, where he’ll eat and then throw up a pile of the chunks or shreds. He hasn’t been grooming himself properly, so he had dandruffy skin in spots, and clumps of matted hair. Anyway, today it just got really bad all at once.

I remember when my uncle Willy, who doesn’t really have a sensitive or sympathetic bone in his body, told us about how he had found a kitten curled up on the engine block of his car, and he just quickly wrung his neck to kill it. I thought if he was here now, I would ask him to do that in a second. Butler sounded that bad. Anyway, I thought the best thing to do was to take him to be put to sleep. I looked up the city pound, thinking that they might be able to do it inexpensively, but they charge more if you want to stay with the cat instead of just dropping it off and leaving. in any case, it was still pretty expensive, so I called my vet, who said I could bring him in that evening.

I waffled back-and-forth, and then decided to go ahead and have what they called a “quality-of-life exam.” I thought it was going to be a waste of money, because whatever was wrong with Butler was not going to be something worth treating, or for that matter anything I could afford to treat, but in the end I decided to go for it.

Dec. 9, 2013: Treatment #8

I didn’t have to have a shot today (of sodium citrate), which I didn’t mind. TheEx spent practically the entire weekend reorienting me to my time, place, and situation. I don’t know why, but I totally lost my recollection and grasp of the situation. That is, I didn’t remember getting depressed, being off work, or beginning ECT. As far as I was concerned, it may as well have been the beginning of October.

When TheEx took me to the hospital this morning, he spoke with my psychiatrist and explained the extent of my memory loss. Dr. F asked me who was with me during the day. Unluckily, because TheEx doesn’t get time off to keep me company, I’m by myself. I don’t remember hardly a thing. I don’t remember the last time I saw Deanna (my psychologist), I don’t remember the last time I drove my car, I don’t remember going over to my friend’s house a couple of weeks ago, which apparently I did, and I don’t remember any of my banking pins or computing passwords. I wonder if I was to see my friend’s house again though, if it would seem familiar, the same way that I recognize things at the hospital (like the tray of play-doh that looks like rocks or stones out in the pod area at the hospital.).

I have a bruise on the back of my right hand because apparently the veins collapsed or did whatever they did when veins don’t cooperate when they try and stick a needle in, so they had to use my left hand. and yes, pure oxygen still does smell notably like old boots. Other than that, there were no surprises in today’s experience.

Dec. 3, 2013: Day After Treatment #6

This is a tremendously disorienting experience. I look down at my manicure without remembering getting it. I think about going to the hospital for another treatment and I can remember where the unit is and what the nurses look like but I’m not really confident in my own memory — it’s as if there’s only traces.

When TheEx left to go to work I asked him if I was off work? (yes) and if I had been off work for a long time? (yes). It’s pretty upsetting not to remember what your own biographical situation is. He confirmed by text that I have another treatment tomorrow.