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Catnapper

First time for ECT soon - any handy pointers?

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I'll be starting  outpatient ECT in about two weeks, and it will be my very first time. I live alone and realize there will likely be some short term memory issues. I am going to get one of those pill boxes that has enough spots for a week at a time so that I don't mess up my med doses, but I haven't thought of anything else worriesome yet.

In my rich fantasy life, I get the laundry done and the house cleaned before I start, but I know that's ridiculous. Do you have any suggestions to help me through this twice a week, four to six week index treatment?

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19 hours ago, Catnapper said:

I'll be starting  outpatient ECT in about two weeks, and it will be my very first time. I live alone and realize there will likely be some short term memory issues. I am going to get one of those pill boxes that has enough spots for a week at a time so that I don't mess up my med doses, but I haven't thought of anything else worriesome yet.

In my rich fantasy life, I get the laundry done and the house cleaned before I start, but I know that's ridiculous. Do you have any suggestions to help me through this twice a week, four to six week index treatment?

I wouldn’t plan to get anything done after treatment days, I was exhausted afterwords.how will you get home? They often don’t let you drive during treatment 

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Keep lots of lists and use alarms on your phone. A list on the fridge saying what and when you last ate. An alarm (ideally labelled) for when to take meds and which ones. Start doing these things now to develop the discipline to actually use them and not brush off with “in a minute”. Lists are useful because you (or others) can reference them later and see that you did (or didn't) eat, etc.

Do you have someone you could call or text with briefly every day? To check in with, to orient you, etc. Also to help you

I couldn’t remember what I did the day before. It was worst when I was getting more frequent treatments (2-3x/week). Keeping a journal of how you're feeling and when will be helpful to direct treatment. You won't remember, so write it down. If you have appointments with other doctors (e.g. your outpatient pdoc) while you're getting the index treatment, take a friend and a notebook. Write everything down.

Expect to sleep most of the day of treatment.

If you have breathing issues and use a rescue inhaler, you may want to use it prior to treatment. That helped me a lot.

If you have had anesthetic before, let the docs know what your experience of it was. For example, I got zofran in my IV and a painkiller, because even the small amount of anesthesia was enough to get me vomiting and/or leave me with a horrid headache. Adding this to the IV means it's already working when you wake up.

During prep, when they tell you to go pee - make sure you really do empty your bladder. Otherwise you'll be sad later ;)

It's really scary. It's okay to be scared. Let the nurses and doctors know that you're scared - even if you're in a kind of assembly line (as is typical at the hospital I had treatments at), they're still caring people. My first time I was so scared I was nearly in tears but then the nice nurse who prepped me came in and held my hand while they put me out.

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I have just finished a course of 12 ECTs and i went really well and i had no memory problems at all so you might not either. I was scared before my first treatment but was lucky to have a very reassuring nurse with me. All the best. Hope you get good results 

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Thanks, all, for your replies. I'm too out of it to use the quote function, but I'll try to respond anyway. Writing everything down seems like a great plan, although right now it seems overwhelming. But when I'm working ( on medical leave right now), I always take copious notes all day long, so hopefully my muscle memory will kick in and I'll be able to track what happens.

As far as getting back and forth, I am currently putting out feelers to local churches to see if they know someone reliable who needs some extra cash. If that doesn't work out, my fail-safe is a car service I have used many times to other medical treatments. They are expensive, though.

The idea of speaking/texting with someone every day is a good one, and something I would have never thought of. I'm sure it will also please both my regular pdoc and the ECT pdoc. 

Rowan77, it's reassuring to hear about your good experience. It's also nice to see you're still around. I remember you from a long time ago, and your cute dog picture. 

I think my biggest fear at this point is that I won't have a good response, or any response at all, because if not, what then? I'm so sick of the med merry-go-round, and this stupid disease. 

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@Catnapper, I am about to start ECT this week, hopefully, for the second time. I live alone too. I intend to get at least the first 6-ish treatments (about 2 weeks) while inpatient.

When I did this 4 years ago, I was discharged after 10 days into the care of some friends who then promptly left me alone for the weekend. I was so overwhelmed with a poor memory and self care I went back and got re-admitted for the remainder of the index treatment. 

Which is not to say your experience will be the same, but don’t be afraid to go IP. It’s a safety thing, if you don’t have the social supports. They can get insurance to cover it because of that.

The other thing is even if it has memory impacts like that, the worst will get better very quickly as you reduce the frequency of the treatments. 

My Pdoc would say, to your fears, that ECT is by far the most effective treatment and the fastest treatment for treatment resistant depression. There’s also some evidence that it can cause some changes that improve response to medications.

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Best of luck.   I hope you feel better soon!

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