Electro Convulsive Therapy *Perspective after 20 Treatments*

This is a repost from 2015 I thought might help someone today. If you’ve reached the bottom and not sure where to turn, please talk to your doctor about all of your options. ECT has allowed me to celebrate my 56th birthday this year. 

I’ve had 20+ ECT treatments. The treatments are necessary when I hit bottom becoming delusional and suicidal. I hope to shine a light on ECT and dispel the myths. Please keep an open mind,the procedure may save your life. In my experience a Psychiatric facility associated with a respected hospital is far superior to chain facility’s. This post is based on top facility in area. I will share the experience with the worst in another post.

I’ve had treatment in-house and outpatient. For me a crisis with suicidal thoughts are best handled in-house with 24 hour care.  I’ll share step by step how ECT is handled at UTSW in Dallas.

You arrive and change to a gown, the RN calls you to patient area to make sure your meds have not changed. UTSW has strict processes to prevent mistakes. You will be asked you name many times. The RN prepares an IV in your arm which is used for a short acting  anesthesia and muscle relaxer.

When it’s your turn, you walk into a small operating room. There you will see your doctor, several RN’s and anesthesiologist You meet everyone, again double checking you ID bracelet. They ask if you have questions. Usually they are answered by doctor prior to treatment. The anesthesiologist will ask a couple of questions about allergy’s.

You lay down in hospital bed, your heart is monitored throughout. The doctor is logging type of ECT. Usually the ECT machine is right by your head. The RN will take your socks off so your feet can be seen. The movement of the foot tells the doctors you had seizure.

A tech is next to you with an oxygen mask, being claustrophobic I ask if he’ll wait till last-minute to put it on. The muscle relaxer is inserted in IV to allow time to work. The doctor will place ECT “head-gear” on. You will also be given a mouth guard. A RN or tech will take doctors instructions on where to place the electrodes.

You will have your arm band checked several times. I love the quality process UTSW University has in place. The head RN will ask if everyone is ready to time out. They will run through who the patient is, what type of ECT having and is everyone ready.

The Anesthesiologist injects, you falls right to sleep. The procedure only takes minutes. When you wake up you have a RN assigned to your recovery They usually juggle a couple of people. You may get some juice for your dry throat. Once all the effects have worn off and IV removed, you can usually get dresses and walk around so RN can see you’re ok. You’ll receive follow-up instructions. Sign the release paperwork and the RN talks to who will drive you home. No driving yourself after ECT.

Typical side effects, jaw hurts from the seizure, may have headache and lethargic from meds in IV. It takes significantly longer to get you ready than perform the treatment.

A couple of notes: there are several positions doctors can use for ECT treatment. I think most common are Unilateral and Bilateral. I’ve had both and prefer Unilateral. You may have to do more treatments to feel improvement however you don’t lose as much short-term memory.

Bilateral treatment has its benefits, it works faster. You may lose some short-term memory. When I say short-term memory, memories right before treatment and right after.

In the DFW area UTSW/Zale is where you want to go if having ECT or staying in-house.

If you have questions please leave in comments.

XO  M

7 Comments »

  1. I’m glad this worked so well for you. My mother had ECT back in the 60s when I was about 10 years old. It was a confusing time for me to say the least. I’m sure the procedures have changed a lot since then. My mom got better over time, especially later in life when she and my father were active in their church and volunteer organizations. When I look at the big picture, they had a wonderful life showing how recovery and healing are quite possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your mom went thru a lot of pain, in the 60’s they still didn’t understand that muscle relaxers were needed and many people got hurt from moving around during the treatment. She was very lucky to only need one treatment and to be able to heal from there. You were lucky too, of course you know that. Your parents laid a good foundation for you to reflect on no matter how tough times might have been during their lives.

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