I'm actually writing this post late on Monday evening, since I will be out and about most of Election Day getting a feel for the crowds on this hugely historical day and in the process attempting to gauge the mood of the people. More about that Wednesday. I'm sure by the time most of you will be reading this that the first batch of exit polling has come out, signifying conclusively a large Obama victory. A guy can dream, huh?
For those who requested a lengthy update about my progress at NIHM, here it is. Mondays mornings every patient on the unit goes through "rounds". Rounds mean that, with the entire staff present, one is asked a series of questions by doctors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, student trainees, and nurses on the unit. As you walk in you notice that the entire room is packed with twenty-five people filling every seat at long table that looks like something you'd see in a corporate boardroom. As you enter, you choke back anxiety while gazing at the expectant looks of many people. Nervously walking into the room and taking a seat at one end of a huge table, it almost seems as though you're addressing a large media gathering at a well-attended press conference.
But unlike press conferences, the staff asks you the same series of questions every week and as you answer, everyone nods up and down to signify that you are, in fact, being heard. Several attendees gaze at you with rapt attention and occasionally jot down some of what you are saying. How is your depression? What are you seeking from treatment? Has your condition improved or worsened? Do you believe you are becoming manic? What are your goals while on the unit?
In rounds, they rarely tell you much of substance. It appears that I will stay on Lithium but be tapered down slowly off of Seroquel. This is a little concerning since I developed insomnia a couple years back and can't manage to sleep without a sedating medication in the evening. Seroquel is that drug. Without it, I'll have to condition my body to go to sleep more or less naturally. This likely means that I will be a zombie for a week until I get exhausted enough to fall asleep without meds. I foresee a solid week of two or three hours a night and although that prospect stresses me out, I've done this so many times before I'm almost used to it.
As for the medication on which I will be tried, I still don't know yet. That will be determined later. Since this is a research setting, everything happens very slowly. Meds are tapered down slowly, drugs are introduced slowly, protocols develop slowly.
Every week brings a new set of concerns and now it appears as though they want to make sure I won't become manic if the Seroquel is withdrawn. I assured them that mania is a state that happens only when taking an antidepressant and as such, they have nothing to worry about.