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Permanent Link: Why I’m choosing maintenance ECT

Posted Jun 19 2009 12:00am

It’s been a bit unclear, even to me, how I reached the decision to have maintenance ECT for this one time. For my own sake, I just needed to jot this out so that I know I’m doing the right thing.

  • The ECT treatment the first time around was very helpful, but I knew it going in that it wasn’t a lifetime cure (the relapse rate within a year is something like 90 percent). The purpose of maintenance ECT is what it says it is: to maintain. I want to maintain the life I’ve regained.
  • When ECT treatment works the first time, the likelihood of it working the next time around is very high. Side effects for me were negligible, even after the 15 times within a five-week period.
  • In the recent months, it’s taking a stimulant for me to be able to stay awake during the day and get things done. It’s starting to feel like any motivation I have right now has been artificially induced. I don’t have a problem with having to take the medication, but this wasn’t something I required right after the ECT treatment.
  • By trying a single treatment, my doctors (and I ) will be able to determine if periodical ECT would be an effective treatment for the long run.
  • Some old thoughts are starting to creep back into my system. The apathy that had disappeared seems to slowly make its way back. As much as I’m not in a mood to fight it off, I know logically that I’ve got to fight it off now or the floodwaters will surely find its way back.
  • I have nothing to lose from doing this.

I feel like my head’s been stuck in a vat of molasses when my doctor and I began to plan on this treatment. When Dr. A asked me at my session yesterday if I felt ready, I realized I had not sat down and really thought about what all of this stuff meant. This may not be the greatest time for me to be pondering all of this (the GRE does come first on the calendar), but it needed to be done. This may not be my complete reasoning for getting maintenance ECT, but at least I’ve put something down. “Clarity is not a bad thing,” says Dr. Melfi to Tony in an episode of the Sopranos. Yeah, I could use some clarity, and making a list like this one helps me just a little bit.

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