Ailene (Pla) will be undergoing ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) starting this Friday (Sept 27, 2019) and I just wanted to fill you in and explain what it's all about plus the how and why we decided to go through with it. There are a lot of misconceptions about the treatment and how safe and effective it is. Even after we read all the CAMH pamphlets, we both still had a lot of misgivings about going through with it. To be frank, the pamphlets probably made things worse. All the medical jargon, caveats and suggested side effects were downright scary. So we did a ton of research and consulted several experts including our long time, trusted and very well respected family Dr. and they all agreed that it was an excellent option and, most importantly, safe step to take. In fact, Ailene's psychiatrist along with our family physician recommended ECT all the way back in April but we wanted to do all our homework first.
Just to backtrack a bit... Over a year ago, Ailene was clinically diagnosed with severe or major depression and complicated grief disorder. It may not sound as serious as "CANCER!!!" or as scary as "EBOLA!!!" but please understand that these diagnoses are just as real and can be just as destructive. They may not be as apparent physically or even socially but they definitely do not suck any less. Our fight for Ailene's mental wellness deserves and requires just as much attention, aggression and understanding.
Ailene's numerous and exhaustive medical treatments this past year and our decision to now do ECT is not and never ever was a convenient short cut, ill-informed concession or self-indulgence. This is not influenced by paranoia or hypochondria (which is a form of metal illness anyway).
Our decision for her to finally see a psychiatrist (and subsequent medical treatment) a year and a half ago and now ECT, took a lot of time, effort and collaboration with each other and our family Dr. All of this effort is firmly rooted in faith and love so I have to make this essential point:
This is not us giving in. This is us fighting the good fight.
If you still don't trust me after my super awesome speech, here is a fraction of the research we did from people way hella smarter than me...
"Major depression is more than just a passing blue mood, a "bad day" or temporary sadness. The symptoms of major depression are defined as lasting at least two weeks but usually they go on much longer — months or even years....On average, untreated episodes last several months. However, episodes of major depression can last any length of time. And symptoms can vary in intensity during an episode. If depression is not treated, it can become chronic (long-lasting). Treatment can shorten the length and severity of a depressive episode."
"You can think of healing after loss as analogous to healing after a physical wound. The loss, like the injury, triggers a pain response which can be very strong. Injuries also activate a healing process. Loss does too. However, a wound complication, like an infection, can interfere with healing. So, too, maladaptive thoughts, dysfunctional behaviors or inadequate emotion regulation can interfere with adaptation to loss."
"If a friend or loved one seems to have a complicated bereavement disorder, you don’t want to shake them out of their denial or tell them to snap out of it. The grief process needs to be carefully worked through. It takes time and professional skill to help them to face the loss, find meanings that give them hope for the future, and to re-engage them in relationships and activities that make them want to embrace life, once again."
"PTSD is diagnosed after a person experiences symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. However symptoms may not appear until several months or even years later."
"(PTSD) can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event. PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster and more. Families of victims can also develop PTSD, as can military personnel, emergency personnel and rescue workers, first responders, journalists.....to name a few."
And now the great news about ECT...
"Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective treatment for major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental health conditions.....How effective is ECT: Very! It’s between 70 to 80 per cent effective in improving symptoms in major depression. In about 60 per cent of patients, ECT will lead to a full remission. It’s difficult to say with certainty if symptoms will return, but if they do, ECT can be done again."
Extensive research has found ECT to be highly effective for the relief of major depression. Clinical evidence indicates that for individuals with uncomplicated, but severe major depression, ECT will produce substantial improvement in approximately 80 percent of patients.... The risks of general anesthesia, which is needed for ECT, are similar to the risks when anesthesia is used for other procedures such as minor surgeries.
So I guess this is my long winded and probably unnecessary way of trying to comfort all of us. Especially myself.
Even with all the good people we've consulted and all the good people who love and support us, Ailene and I are still scared. We're still super apprehensive and, still aren't 100% sure. But, what I am 1,000,000% sure of, is that doing nothing won't cure anything.
As with all treatment, there may be side effects. The worst one is probably the traffic from Ajax to Queen and Ossington (where her treatment will be). The 2nd worst is temporary short term memory loss. She won't forget names or people she loves but she might forget that thing I did last week that totally pissed her off. Best case scenario is she forgets everything about Breaking Bad and she gets to re-binge everything! It's like a bizarro catch-22.
There may never be a perfect path, but this is our best one.
#smileyfaceemoji #TGIF #blessed