Last week I had my brain mapping session, so I was all set to go yesterday. The first of my 30 treatment sessions. It’s been vaguely on my mind, that this was IT. I was hopeful, a little fearful. I had tap dance class in the morning, and so I felt well exercised. All the fidgets out of me. I’ve not allowed myself the thought of: what if I’m in the one third this doesn’t work for. As I’m in the middle of rereading E-Squared by Pam Grout, and doing the experiments, I’ve been putting my thoughts on ‘this will work 100%’. There has been some ‘who will I be without depression and anxiety?’ though.
It’s a 35 minute drive to Narre Warren. A cold front swept through Melbourne at 10am, and it started pouring rain as we got in the car. Heavy rain. Oh no, I thought. PizzaBoy is driving, in heavy rain. It should be me driving. But by this time, my brain was a little fuzzed with nervousness. I tried doing jigsaw puzzles on my ipad, but not much good. The car shook a little too much.
I was seen almost straight away. I shouldn’t have had all that fluid in the morning. I needed to pee often. Nervousness too, I guess.
A different technician this time, one of the senior psychologists. A nice young woman with blonde hair that was in a semi-messy bun on top of her hair. I reflected she didn’t have the swathe of thick hair that I do, and she laughed when I said Olivia, the other technician, the psych in training, had lost a hair barrette in my hair during mapping last week. PB gave that back today.
Another mapping session, just on the left side of the brain, where the depression area lies. Oh no, I thought. I’m not going to get a treatment today? I want this to start! The mapping confirmed Olivia’s measurements and readings. The first part is like being measured for a hat. I am 55cm around the widest part of my head. Small average.
Single pulses are sent in the approximate area to stimulate the motor cortex in the place that operates the hand muscles. They look for 3 responses(involuntary hand movements) out of 6. That’s called the Resting Response Something. Any more than 3, too active. Less than 3, not active enough. They have to find the pulse level that produces the RR thing.
But then, a session! I got my first treatment. Ear plugs in, overhead light off, and away we went. I was in a very comfy adjustable chair, leaned back, and my legs raised enough that I wouldn’t fidget. Altogether there were 3000 pulses, rapid-fire, in short bursts of about…I want to say 15, but it’s probably more than that. There’s the sensation of static electricity, but without the sting. Rapid pressure on the scalp but no pain. It sounds like an MRI, and it’s like a woodpecker or sewing machine. There’s sensation, but no pain…except there was, a while into the treatment, like someone kept poking me with a sharp fingernail over and over. So they lowered the dosage to my RR thing, and the pressure pain lessened. I also had some achey pain in my left eye, right in the corner. I was warned this, or jaw pain might be the case. A sharp ongoing ache, until the dosage was adjusted. Not really uncomfortable, but minutely moving the magnetic coil helped.
Otherwise, I just lay there with my eyes shut. I wished I’d driven down, because then I could have listened to my current audio book, which is PASSAGE by Connie Willis. It’s about Near Death Experiences. I’ve read it before and know it’s about the sinking of the Titanic as a metaphor for the experience of death.
This set me off on what felt like long screeds of slow thought about the movie ‘Titanic’, the actual sinking, PASSAGE, and related things. I suppose because I was in a medical situation, and something was acting on my neurotransmitters, and the characters in the book are working with neurology…..I don’t know why. But it felt like this was the first time in a very long time that I could have long threads of thought. Maybe it was that I was in one place, not doing anything. Maybe it was the treatment.
I felt relaxed, and deliberately tried to relax myself more. There was a sensation of diving deeper into the centre of my brain, and the treatment, the pressure, and the noise, were what was happening on the surface of me.
The psych kept asking if I was okay, because I was very quiet.
“I didn’t know I was supposed to talk,” I said. Because I had ear plugs in, I wasn’t sure how loud my voice was, or if I was heard above the racket of the machine. It makes 3 ticking noises before the next burst of woodpeckering, so there’s no sudden bodily start when it begins again.
“I’m okay,” I said, and it felt thick to speak.
Just as I started thinking ‘Is this over yet? How much more? Are we done?’, it was done.
I was interested in how many beats per minute, because I’m doing tap dance, and it’s said Ann Miller could do 150 taps per minute. I wondered if the beat was similar. The psych didn’t know, but said that over a 20 minute session, I received 3000 pulses. But the intervals are nowhere near a minute long. Ha. The machine doesn’t even have the stamina of Ann Miller.
I felt a bit dopey, and floppy afterwards, a little like moving through molasses. I noticed I was slightly off-kilter walking to and from the toilet. By the time we got out to the car, it was gone.
I had a residual…not headache, but not not headache either, and when I got home, I just crawled onto my bed and read. Couldn’t concentrate well. Mind was a bit all over the place, as is usual for me. Took me a while to go to sleep that night, but I slept well. Feeling okay this morning. Woke at 6am. Full bladder, Angel had meowed loudly in my ear, body slightly chilly inside. The house felt cold, so I cuddled down and listened to more of PASSAGE.
I no longer have caffeinated tea in any more as a rule, thanks to the auto-immune protocol diet. However, I’d promised myself a cup of green rose tea this morning if I was a good woman yesterday and did my treatment. So, having just had my tea, it’s on with my day. I’m on an ‘up’ in my depressive cycle(the senior psychiatrist who zoom interviewed me for the TMS programme said he suspected bi-polar more than depression and anxiety, because the major onset of my symptoms was post-natal depression), so I’m wanting to do stuff. I’m watching carefully for any swing towards the near-mania I’ve had happen in the past.
It’s weird to feel wary, and afraid of feeling great. Because it’s never just great. A feeling of ‘oh, I feel really good’ leads to not sleeping, leads to pushing myself so hard that the hypothyroid body collapses. It’s never just feeling great. And then there’s the crash, the exhaustion, the pain, the brain fog. It’s never just feeling great.
But, today, I’ll take that I feel okay, that one cup of caffeinated tea is enough, that I will need some meditation time to equilibrate.