Log #7: Treatments

It’s amazing how resourceful one becomes when the need is immense. No one gave more than my husband. He devoted hours and hours of his time researching. He never gave up, never made me feel like I was a burden, never criticized or made me feel guilty for where I was at emotionally or physically or spiritually. He was an example of what it means to walk alongside a person in pain. He also sat with me, came when he heard me crying, stood in the gap. I am forever grateful for his love. It gave me dignity.

After the gynecologist tapped out, he sent me over to mental health. Mental health dispensed the drugs but eventually said, they had nothing left. In John’s research he came upon something called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).  This is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. TMS is typically used when other depression treatments haven’t been effective. We were also considering something called electroconvulsive therapy. Often referred to as Shock Therapy. ECT is considered kind of a last resort because of the concern about permanent memory loss and confusion. It works by using electricity to induce seizures while the patient is under anesthesia. This is where we were at, considering this options. We first opted for the TMS.

During a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed against your scalp. The electromagnet is suppose to painlessly deliver a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells in the region of your brain involved in mood control and depression. It’s thought to activate regions of the brain that have decreased activity in depression. At my first appointment they got me comfortably seated in what looked like a dentist chair. They had some kind of calculations that directed where they set this massive machine on an arm that swung the device over my head and adjusted it to begin these pulses. The process began and it literally felt like a woodpecker was tapping violently on my head. I cried, but endured. They told me my brain would get used to it. Five days a week for weeks I went in for this barbaric treatment. The pain did lessen. In fact, oddly, I learned to enjoy the process. Maybe because I believed it would do something to help me.

It was impossible for John to take off every day and so after that first appointment my mom usually took me. We brought the three younger kids and afterwards we always went by McDonald’s and got a chocolate chip frappe. These are the things they remember. The frappe. And they had store bought brownie bites in the waiting room. And they remember the technician, Serena. A few times my dear friend, Irma, brought me. She would rub my feet with lotion as my head was tapped and talk with Serena about Jesus. Irma always wove it in so naturally. I liked listening. It was hard to carry on a conversation while undergoing this procedure. But I could watch and listen to the two of them. Mostly it was my mom though. I had 35 sessions.

Week after week I made this trip. Five days a week. It was a welcome distraction. The whole process of mom coming, loading up the car, heading over, getting situated, having the tapping, getting a frappe but sadly it didn’t make any difference. Did not change the anxiety. Did not touch the depression. But we had to try. So many other things had turned up ineffective and we were running out of options. What would we try next?

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