If and when you personally decide to undergo ECT it would be a good idea to do a few things first.
I wouldn’t get all of my information from the Doctor doing the procedure. Most likely he/she has done it more than a few times and no longer sees it for what it is. Try to get a fresh set of eyes. Talk to other people who have either had ECT or even RNs or Orderlies that work where they are done. I have found that these people have more sympathy, empathy, compassion, and insight when it comes to patients and families. After all they’re the ones who spend the most time with you, not the Doctor.
Keep in mind that everyone is unique. Not everyone reacts the same to anesthesia either. You can ask the Number 1 Scientist in the World and he will tell you that we will never know everything there is to know about the Human Brain in this lifetime. It’s a guessing game.
TWO TYPES OF ECT~ RIGHT UNILATERAL AND BILATERAL
Right Unilateral treatments usually have a slower response time for the patient. The Doctor places an electrode on the crown of the patient’s head and on the right temple. The patient is under anesthesia. A brief electrical pulse is sent through to the scalp causing the brain cells to fire in unison producing a seizure. This type of treatment usually has less memory side effects.
Bilateral treatment involves placing electrodes on both temples. There may be more memory side effects and is usually used for severe mental illnesses like Bipolar Depression with Psychosis, Manic Episodes of Bipolar, Catatonia, and Schizophrenia.
Some Doctors believe the seizure itself alters the neurotransmitters in the brain causing it to “reboot” like a computer. Others believe the stress hormone is adjusted during the seizure or treatments. The stress hormone involves a person’s mood, energy, and sleep patterns.
NUMBER OF TREATMENTS
Normally a person receives 3 treatments a week. The total number of treatments ranges from 6 to 12. The average is 9 but I have seen patients that have had more than 20. Mild improvements may be seen after the first 3 to 6 treatments.
ME, MYSELF, AND I
My Doctor told me the best and fastest way for me to receive ECT was to go to the Hospital where he was on staff and tell them I was Bipolar and I felt I might harm myself. The Hospital would admit me and I would tell them about the ECT and they would perform the first treatment, after that my Doctor could do the treatments outpatient. I wasn’t expecting everything to go so badly. I didn’t expect it to leave so much damage, not just on me, but my sister and dad too.
It would’ve possibly been okay if a blip hadn’t shown up on my EKG. They didn’t feel comfortable doing the procedure at their facility because they didn’t have the equipment if I went into Cardiac Arrest. They were mostly a Psychiatric Hospital. They decided to send me to a Medical Hospital close by. Biggest mistake ever made. The Doctor was stuck in his ways, made his own rules, and liked to “punish” patients he thought disrespected him. It was a nightmare.
The actual procedure I don’t remember much of. I remember waking up feeling like someone was taking an axe to my skull. I was confused about the year and tears leaked from my eyes nonstop. I thought I was little, around 5. This lasted for most of the day. It frightened my sister so much I still think she hasn’t processed it. It was bad enough she told my father not to visit under any circumstances. I guess I kept asking when “Mommy was coming to get me” or when “Mommy was coming to visit”. This must have killed my sister. Our mom had passed away at least 5 years by that time. The Doctor told her and the staff that they couldn’t “correct me or tell me what year it was because it could be traumatizing”. So instead I leaked tears and asked for my Mommy with an axe in my head for almost 8 hours. I then had to go through flashes of my life and her death all over again to get back to the right time period.
I wouldn’t wish how I found my mother on my worse enemy. If it was enough to bring an extremely proud, never shows emotion, never cried in front of anyone, Navy man to his knees howling in pain with tears and snot running down his weathered face than you can only imagine how I took it.
The Doctor also overshot his mark. He didn’t follow the instructions given to him by my Doctor and I went from a Bipolar Depressive Episode to Extremely Manic. He also refused to give me my prescribed medication because he “didn’t believe in it”. He kept me longer because I embarrassed him in front of staff and patients. This was when a nurse who happened to live near me took me to the side and told me to “pretend, do whatever you have to or he will try to keep you as long as possible because you pissed him off”.
After I finally left that Hospital, a few weeks went by and I noticed that I was leaving the house, making a ton of jewelry, going places in other States! I was as close to happy as possible for about a year and that was after one treatment.
The problem is I don’t think I can go through the after effects again. It eventually worsened the Conversion Disorder. I am not sure how much it has effected my memory, I know it’s worse. There so much wrong with me it could be anything. It was a good year though. (Pic is from Craigslist, a Papillon mix I thought was way too cute!)
It was a good year though.