I started a journey, Wednesday, April 8 at 3:00 PM at Mission Valley in San Diego, California, hoping to relieve a darkness that’s clouded my life for decades. I entered with trepidation and doubt. I didn’t know anyone who had traveled through TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation).
My anxiety jumped to an 11 on my drive there and skyrocketed as I walked in the door. Wearing a mask and gloves heightened my fears. I hadn’t left my home since the “shelter in place” orders during the COVID pandemic, other than drive-bys to my daughter’s home. Now I was opening the door to a medical facility which had assured me PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) would be in place.
I checked in and was handed a clipboard with a depression scale test. (Get used to it, Sharon, you’ll fill one out everyday and two on Fridays.) The technician arrived to take me to the treatment room to sit in a big recliner). He prepared the machine ( I don’t really recall what occurred but I do know the psychologist held my hand). Terrified, my mind went back to my Electric Shock Therapy experiences years ago. Assured over and over, this was not the same mechanism as ECT, I relaxed a degree.
Then the psychiatrist walked in to do a technique called mapping. A machine over my brain was set to send signals to my fingers that the technician was noting. This procedure would give them the information to place the pulses correctly on my brain for the next 7 weeks.
After the mapping, my first treatment occurred. It felt like a mini-jack hammer pounding on my head (with ten second breaks) for 20 minutes. Oh, goodness, what have I gotten myself into? Would I be able to endure this day after day for weeks?
The first seven days were a challenge. Relief came over me when each treatment was over. Headaches occurred most days and at night, I would wake up multiple times. I wanted to be positive for my family and friends but I probably caused them more concern. I dreaded going in.
Yet, day eight, the intensity lessened, or was I becoming accustomed to the sensation? It didn’t matter; it was easier.
I could do this!
That’s my experience today, day 15. I have hope in this non-medication therapy for depression to lessen and lighten the dark cloud surrounding me.
Checkin for the next leg of my unusual trek during this crazy pandemic.