Thursday, March 10, 2016

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Part 4

I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I had a major incident yesterday immediately following the latest procedure. Depending on how one looks at it, it can optimistically be considered a bump in the road or pessimistically deemed a holy terror. It's been years since I've felt that afraid for my physical health and well being. I pause from bed rest to update the blog, to steady my shaky nerves. These developments are worth noting but are also very scary. Today I still am not 100% yet, but at least I woke up this morning feeling an improvement.

Five minutes after my session, I walked back to the public transportation rail. The intent was to head back into the District and run other errands. Nothing seemed amiss. All of a sudden, with no advance warning, I felt a burning, jarring pain in my forehead. What started as fear became somehow impulsive and even mildly psychotic. Like usual, my anxieties led me to muse upon what would happen if I accidentally fell onto the tracks. Then I felt a strong compulsion to throw myself bodily over the edge.

Those thoughts probably lasted no more than fifteen or twenty seconds. Defensively I turned around a full 180 degrees, facing the opposite direction. I didn't want any additional temptation. A train arrived a few seconds later, and I boarded it, trying to keep calm and not attract attention to myself. My new plan was to get back home at any cost. While the train was still above ground, I contacted my outpatient psychiatrist and my primary care doctor, leaving a message with both of them.

The psychiatrist got back to me quickly and told me to proceed directly to the Emergency Room. Upon arrival, I consulted with a doctor, two mental health social workers, nurses, and other staff. They administered a mild tranquilizer by mouth and kept me for observation for the next three hours. I made it clear that I didn't want to be hospitalized and didn't think it was necessary. Then I went home and collapsed into bed.

I'm not sure whether or not to resume my sessions. I had every intention of undergoing all 36 of them. Now I've made a decision to try one more tomorrow and reevaluate from there. I have options. I can be switched to a second machine on site that isn't as powerful. I can also consult with the psychiatrist in a few days to discuss the situation in depth. As is probably quite understandable, I don't want to feel anything like I did yesterday.

I'm very nervous. My worst fears have been realized. This procedure is brand new, and there hasn't been a lot of medical research or case studies on record yet. Accordingly, I had to explain the procedure, what it did, and how it worked to at least five people when I was in the ER. Though the side effects are relatively uncommon, they are not beyond the realm of possibilities. My brain chemistry and neurological makeup have always been difficult to diagnose and treat. Perhaps I'm an outlier once again.

I'm disappointed more than anything. I'm in too much pain to be angry. One of the social workers seemed to feel that I had every right to be mad, and I suppose once I have some distance from this event, that might be my reaction. Tomorrow might be my final treatment, and I'm putting some safeguards in place in case I have a similar reaction. I won't walk to the Metro rail and I'll take a taxi, regardless of how much it costs.

Stay tuned.

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