Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ECT--it's a waiting process

I had my first ECT treatment today. I got home from D's house last night, spent the evening re-settling into my home, and got up early this morning to get going. I arrived at the hospital around 8:00 AM to begin the process.

My least favorite part of the process is waiting. After having our vitals taken, one by one, each patient is sent to a tiny room with about 8 chairs to wait. It is a tiny, box shaped room with chairs along each wall which face each other. There is just barely enough space to walk between them on your way to a seat. There is no music, nothing to distract your attention, and similar to an elevator, I find myself staring at the floor in order to avoid the eyes of the person directly across from me.

As you can imagine, this teeny room is filled with all sorts of ill characters. After all, we wouldn't be there if we weren't ill! I prefer to sit in silence and generally bring something to read, which is a little silly, as I can barely concentrate on reading. This morning the woman next to me, so close I had to avoid touching her, kept looking over at my reading material. That was annoying. She was also the token patient, there's always one, who preferred to talk out loud regardless of whether anyone responded! That drives me crazy. The poor soul across from me was so nervous he kept holding his breath. Every 10-15 seconds, he'd discontinue his apneic period with a long, loud, exhalation. He did this over and over again. Ugh! If the room was a fraction larger, and if depression didn't make me irritable, perhaps these idiosyncrasies wouldn't be noticed or annoying. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

We wait in this tiny room for what feels like an eternity. One by one we are called out to see a physician's assistant. There is an expectant rush about the room every time the P.A. opens the door to select the next person on his list. My name is never called soon enough. This morning, I waited in the tiny room for about 35 minutes, but in the past I've been there for over an hour.

After meeting individually with the P.A. for about 5 minutes, we each get transferred onto a surgical gurney in another room. This is the room where our I.V.'s are started, heart monitoring electrodes are placed, and the blood pressure cuff is applied. There are three rolling gurneys in this room. Once we're poked and set up, we wait to enter the ECT suite. Again, I tried to read. I have no idea how long I waited in this room today, but it felt like 15-20 minutes.

Finally, I got rolled into the ECT suite. As soon as the gurney was in place, the ECT team was active. The waiting was over, as the anesthesiologist almost immediately injected the medicine, and I was asleep within 10 seconds. I woke up in the recovery room some time after that. More waiting ensued as I sipped on some juice and awaited the arrival of my ride home. The whole process, which required a lot of patience, took about 2.75 hours.

I spent the rest of the day lying low. As usual, I slept for a couple hours after ECT. I had a bit of a headache, but it never became severe. Because of the holiday yesterday, I actually will have my second of the three weekly treatments tomorrow. I've never had back-to-back ECT before, so I'm not sure what to expect. Except for the waiting, of course...


Anonymous said...

Etta ~

Sending continuous thoughts of peace, healing and calm your way.

Next time you are waiting think of "us" ~ those of us who come to your blog not because we want anything from you ~ but because We simply "love" you. ~


Kelly said...

I have no experience with ECT, but I have had my bouts of severe depression and I feel for you. I hope the back to back treatment goes well for you. I hope that you start to feel some relief in the immediate future.

renee altson said...


you described the process so well. for me, the scariest part was whether or not i would go to sleep. i was always so terrified after the anesthesia.

i've had over 80 treatments in 2 years, and have decided to stop ECT for various reasons.

i'm glad you are still getting benefit from it.

Someone You Know said...

Hope it's going well and that this week has become easier for you.
Thinking of you,
Take care,