In the hospital again.

I went to see my psychiatrist and he walked me to the ER after our appointment. I’m not sure how the conversation got to where it was to be honest, it felt like I was trying to tell him I was feeling bad and suddenly it had spiraled out of control. All I can think of is the Penn and Teller show “Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends”, which has a card trick where the reveal depends on you saying that you drew the four of diamonds. Penn sarcastically spells out that it doesn’t matter what card you drew, all you have to do is SAY the four of diamonds, and if that’s too much for you, ask your aunt to take you bowling.

Anyway, my doctor asked if I was safe and I stuttered and stammered and hedged. This is why I refused to play poker in school, even if it was for $20 a night, because I have no bluffing game. I said things like “why don’t I take next week off, and try the new meds at home?” and he said that wasn’t good enough, and said he had to be cautious, and walked me to the ER. I’m not sure if he walked me there instead of calling security because he couldn’t get a hold of anyone on call in his office, or if he was just making it easier for me but it was easier, so I am grateful for that.


Crying at the nurse.

I’d had ketamine today and was crying from the minute I got in. The nurse asked me what was going on during the infusion and I sobbed out some garbled explanation – I don’t remember exactly what I said but I know I said I’d stopped taking my meds but my psychiatrist didn’t know, and anyway she got the gist that I was feeling pretty hopeless.

She called my psychiatrist to see if I could get in to see him but wasn’t able to get through, so she asked if I was safe to go home until tomorrow (when I have an appointment scheduled.) I answered that I was “reasonably certain I could make it through one more day”, which probably sounded snarkier than I intended.

They make me fill in a bunch of questionnaires when I go, so why doesn’t someone look at them if they want to know what’s going on?

First Ketamine Treatment.

Holy shit you guys, I was soooooo high two hours ago. The infusion is 40 minutes and the effects kick

 in after 10-15 minutes.

I know there are words for those feelings – “floaty” etc – but they seem to be really inadequate compared to the actual experience.

Basically you are under 1-on-1 supervision of a nurse the whole time. She took my vitals, started an IV, asked if I wanted warm blankets, put some Enya on and said it was my treatment, so I should ask for whatever I want or need.

It was fairly pleasant overall, but a very heavy body stone… at one point I slurred to the nurse that I was thirsty but “couldn’t get organized” to reach over for my water bottle. (She was very kind and brought it to me.)

I had the most incredible sensation that when I closed my eyes, instead of seeing just black I had stripes of colour swatches of Betsey Johnson pinks and was designing handbags in this spacious 3-D pink area behind my eyelids.

When they unhook the IV it still takes a while for the effects to wear off. The nurse had asked me if I was okay and I said “Can I not be left all alone while this wears off?” So she brought some charts into the room to work on. 
You know how you lose your inhibitions when you are drunk? Like “You’re my besht friend!”? Well, I announced to the nurse that “I know I’m better off dead; I’m just too out of it now to organize it!”

So yeah. The experience was okay but I have a big mouth. Hahaha!

I don’t want to be an inpatient.

i’ve done some more reading about ketamine for depression and it seems like it works well, and works fast. The bad part is the idea of becoming an inpatient for it – I am barely managing as is, and I can’t see having to participate in group therapy, go without a phone or iPad, being constantly watched, and not being allowed to do much of anything as being therapeutic.

If they are worried about social media, take the SIM card out, my iPad doesn’t have one anyway. Like why is watching TV okay or a privilege, and reading and colouring is ok all the time, but playing with a phone or iPad is not?  It seems some rules are for the convenience of hospital staff instead of primarily about patients?

I wish they gave ketamine as an outpatient thing but I guess I’ll see what he says in the next appointment and take it from there. Makes me nervous!! I’m tired of thinking about it; bed for me!

Another new prescription.

well, I slept through work today, made it to my therapy appointment, my therapist called my psychiatrist while I was there to see if he could see me today, and now I have another prescription. He was all encouraging about how we would find something that worked and I was like “ya, that makes one of us [with hope.]”

It is 7 pm and now I’m in bed. Listening to stuff like Linkin Park’s Leave Out All the Rest, and wondering how to get out of this work lunch on Wednesday (that I was going to miss because of the scheduled psychiatrist appontment.)

Dec. 22, 2014: A Year Later

It’s probably going to take more than one blog post to catch up on the last year…

To be honest, I didn’t want to look at this blog or think about this blog for a long time because the thought of it reminded me of the whole ECT experience, which upset me.  In a nearly PTSD-flashback way.  It’s winter again, it’s dark out in the morning, and it just reminds me of how disoriented and forgetful and out of it I was, and I hate it.

In short – would I do it (ECT) again?  Hell no.  Not ever, not even if it had worked.  The memory loss was too severe and too long-lasting to be worth it.

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.

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.

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.