That's what I'm doing. I find myself thinking, You must be insane, to let people attach electrodes to your head and run electrical current through your brain--and then I catch myself: of COURSE you're insane, dimwit, that's why you're doing it. You can see how a certain tendency toward circular thinking is built into this process. The truth is, ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy--a better name for it would be Seizure Therapy) is a step nobody takes unless they're desperate, so coming up with a reasoned, well-thought-out list of pros and cons is not usually a prominent feature of the whole decision-making thing. And so you wind up where I am: wondering if, having lost your mind, you're now preparing to flush it down the toilet.
In this, as in almost every other medical procedure I have undergone in my life, I turn out to be Medically Unusual. Supposedly, people receiving ECT have some slight "retrograde amnesia," meaning they wake up after the anesthesia not being able to recall the last few moments just before they went under. Not me: I can recall every single moment, which is why the other day I recall that the doctor--an elderly gentleman, I get the impression he doesn't do much of anything else at this particular institution--put an electrode on my right temple, as usual, and then put one on my left temple, which was not usual.
"Are we doing bilateral or unilateral?" I asked, and I heard him say, "Oh!" and he removed the electrode on my left temple. For those of you who don't know, and I'm assuming this would be most people since up to about two months ago I didn't know anything about this either, bilateral ECT is associated with much more memory loss than unilateral ECT (the kind with the electrodes attached to only one side of the head, usually the right). It was too late to leap off the table at that point, but when I woke up I thought a lot about this, and I decided that it scared me shitless--a point of view seconded by my husband when I told him about it. Don't get me wrong: I know doctors are human, I understand mistakes get made in medicine all the time; there was a nurse standing right there who would have, I believe, caught this error even if I had not said anything, and it's possible the doctor himself would have caught his own error. But still.
So now, in addition to my usual baggage load of doubts and fears, I have this added feature: an all-too-vivid demonstration of how things can go wrong, and do. This happened, mind you, at a highly regarded institution of mental healing, not some suburban community hospital.
So tomorrow my job is to get on the phone and have a heart-to-heart discussion with the psychiatrist I initially consulted at this place, to ask about the mechanisms they have in place to prevent such errors from happening. Maybe he can convince me it never would have happened. Maybe I'll wind up asking him for the name of somebody in another city who can take on my case. Maybe I'll just decide to say, once and for all, to hell with it. I just don't know. All I know for sure is that I needed this additional wrinkle about as much as I needed--well, I started to write "a hole in my head," but given the way things are going, I may HAVE a hole in my head before the week is out. With scorch marks around it.