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Saturday, February 13, 2021:

I'll start with the good news first - ECT has really worked for me!!! I've been so sick for so long it's just miraculous to me to feel better. My initial Beck Depression Inventory test that they do at the start of every visit started out with a score of 43, which is in the worst of five possible rankings, "extreme depression".  Now it's running anywhere from 6 - 9, and since 10 and under is considered normal, I'm officially better and actually feel better, too! I haven't had any negative side effects at all, either during the initial index series of multiple treatments a week, or now on monthly maintenance treatments. My memory has actually improved, and my IQ has returned so I'm able to do my job in an engineering field once again. 

It's been just over a year since my first ECT treatment on February 3rd, 2020, so I thought it would be a good time to restart this diary - here is the first part: https://www.crazyboards.org/topic/99471-my-ect-diary-first-treatment-on-february-3-2020/ . I had an index series of twice a week treatments for a total of 15 treatments, the last of which took place on April 3rd, 2020. At that point the pdoc was going to taper me down to once a month maintenance treatments, but then I got coronavirus (a moderate case, didn't have to be hospitalized, thank god), and shortly thereafter they completely closed the program down for a while due to the virus.

By then my mood was showing major improvement, although as I told the pdoc, "I'm better, not well". Because I didn't seem to be making much progress at the beginning of my index series, at treatment number 10 the doctor changed the electrode placement to bilateral and that seemed to make a huge difference. It's the most effective electrode placement, but since it's also the most likely to give side effects, they start out at other positions such as right unilateral. 

I will go for my 23rd treatment on Monday, February 15th, after getting back on a regular monthly schedule in August 2020. The pdocs rotate, so I will once again see the pdoc who did my first few treatments. I haven't seen her since last February and I'm excited to let her see me when I'm well! I was so sick and so miserable when I first met her. At my very first visit after the pdoc met with me, the anesthesiologist examined me prior to my treatment and with no one else in the room asked me, "So what would you be doing if you weren't here today?" My response was, "I'd be lying in a darkened room wishing I was dead". 

That seems like an impossibly long time ago, and although it hasn't been a straight-line recovery, by any means, it is amazing how much better I feel most of the time. Since I'm still having some bad days in between treatments (but staying far away from the bottom of the abyss and no suicidal thoughts at all), at my last visit the pdoc suggested shortening the interval to once every three weeks instead of four, and I completely agree, but I can't take that much time off work. I was on medical leave when I started ECT and I barely kept my job, had to start back on probation, etc., so there's no way I can even think about jeopardizing it. So I'll keep on with the four week schedule and hope for the best.

I see my regular pdoc weekly (who also does therapy) and I'm looking forward to seeing him in person again when things open back up. It's reassuring to me that my regular pdoc used to work at the university where I'm being treated so all the doctors know each other. I'm very lucky to have found such good medical care and to have good medical insurance, too. But I feel in my heart of hearts, and as I told my favorite doctor during my index series while I was lying in the treatment room and he was sticking sensors on my head, "Instead of all this, maybe I just need to smoke a joint and get laid!"  :)



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