I finally had ECT

So it finally happened…

Our Lived Experience

After the long wait for ECT, actually having it was, of course, utterly anticlimactic. I had to leave home at 04h30 to be in the ward by 06h00, by that time everyone was already up and washed and sitting waiting for breakfast and doctors. I had to change into a hospital nightdress; the nurse who laughed and said I look like a man the other day, asked if I look like my father today. She looked very confused when I said no.


I had my blood pressure etc checked and was then wheeled off to the operating theatre. Shrink one was waiting in scrubs, the anaesthetist peered sadly at the vein in my elbow before putting the drip in at the wrist. I had a blood pressure cuff on my upper arm by then and another on my lower leg . I had to undo the nightdress and have…

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ECT update

So my ECT got delayed yet again. I went into hospital on Thursday to have it on Friday, but the nationwide taxi protests resulted in things like felled trees burning across roads and so doctors didn’t get to the hospital… To cut a long story short, I left on Saturday and refused to go back. Shrink one then arranged for me to have it as an outpatient, so I’m going in by 6am tomorrow for the first of 12 sessions.

If you read my previous entry, you already know why I found the hospital stay intolerable. What stood out most glaringly this time, was a lot of pressured speech and psychosis all around. Friday night’s dinner of two slices of brown bread and a half litre of maas (fermented milk) didn’t cheer me up either. I kept quiet and just ate the bread, another woman bitched hard and the nurse said, “eat now, complain later!”

Anyway, I’ll write about the ECT over on OLE and repost it here on Wednesday, I just thought I’d do an interim update here. I feel like I’ve been through the wars guys. I just don’t feel like writing it at length.


Further adventures in the public mental healthcare sector

Our Lived Experience

I still haven’t had ECT. I haven’t had it because the head anaesthetist at the hospital won’t do the general anaesthetic for it, because he considers it barbaric. He goes to Siberia annually to hunt bear – I am not kidding. Anyway, apparently they can get someone in to do it from the next state hospital in the area. Barbaric my ass. The essence of public healthcare is waiting-flavoured, I’m waiting for a phone call from Shrink Two to let me know when I need to go back into hospital. I’ll be having 12 sessions over six weeks. I’ll blog about it whenever it happens and in the meantime I’ll tell you about my night in the female mental health ward.

Behind eight foot fencing and a padlocked security gate is a small paved area with some benches and an aluminium bucket. To the right of the building’s doorway are…

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I’m going to have electroconvulsive therapy

Our Lived Experience

The first wait was to see shrink two, who gave me the paperwork to go and wait at three more departments, x-ray, ecg and pharmacy. I have a date for ect now, the 27th. I’ll be an inpatient and that’s what was on my mind while she told me she’d got “klapped” by one patient trying to hit another during ward rounds. Scared? Terrified. I’m not scared of the ect itself though.

She went through the possible negative effects – headaches, memory loss, muscle spasm and the usual caveat for a general anaesthetic too. I said hey I don’t care, I don’t even wanna be alive. The x-ray and ecg were part of the pre-anaesthetic checks, I had plenty of blood tests in the preceeding weeks too. I’m healthy, I’m the most depressed person I know, but physically I’m really healthy. My lungs are even “really good for…

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Bipolar Disorder and the South African Public Health Sector

Our Lived Experience

I’ve been journalling my experiences with bipolar and the South African public health sector here, with a hiatus recently, thanks to bipolar depression. I’ve now finished my six months free CBT as a case study, but I’ll still be seeing the trainee psychiatrist I refer to as shrink two for treatment. As things stand now, I’ve just had my fluoxetine increased to 60mg and olanzapine is at 15mg. I’m waiting for shrink two to discuss with her department head, whether or not I’m going to have ECT. Shrink one, back in the private health sector, reckons it’s the best option.

So I’m just waiting and it strikes me that waiting is exactly what the government health system is all about. It’s the same almost everywhere, I believe, the waiting lines are long. You arrive as early as you can and you queue. I’ve become accustomed to it to a…

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