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Jolt (An Account of ECT Sucess)


Jolt was a patient I met at CentraCare'$ St cloud adult mental health unit. I'm using jolt not to make fun of but to protect jolts identity. 

Jolt was a pretty good guy. Actually when I met him he was a pretty quiet guy. Jolt was also my first look at something I read about years ago. 

The Something is Called ECT.


Before my stay at CentraCare I had only read about ECT. It gets a bad reputation from it's past uses. There's no doubt if you go back a few decades it probably was applied in brutal and inhumane ways. If I understand it correctly its now standard procedure to put a patient under anesthesia before administering it.

The thing I had remembered reading about it was; despite how violent it seems; It does sometimes work and very well. 

I think I remember reading it as 

"not all patients show response to it but for those who do there's a marked and or profound improvement. "

I had actually bumped into its cousin more recently which is something called TMS. Transcranial magnetic stimulation. that's neither here nor there but it is a plug for my spot welder as the operating principles aren't that different even though the voltage is.

TMS is far less invasive. Rather than to put it bluntly: shocking the shit out of you; it's a focused magnetic pulse through the skull. That magnetic pulse generates a localized electrical pulse inside the brain. 

Both are pretty cool uses of technology and medicine. But I digress. 

Jolts ECT saga

While Held at CentraCare I actually watched three people undergo ECT. 

Jolt was with in two years of my age(33). He was also the one to show the most rapid improvement. The other two were one to three decades older. My layman guess would be this is probably a demonstration of how a neuroplasticity changes with age. if I understand correctly it's not universal for anyone but age is a large factor.

In my non-medical opinion they all seem to get better with it. Jolt was the most pronounced and immediate improvement though. (Though his paranoia seemed to return as I was being transferred away)

When I first met him he wouldn't say much of anything.

"His life goal was to attend three groups each day"

He would spend most of his time in his room.

A few of us were actively trying to bring him out of his shell. I have noted that one of the groups that he might be into space. There was trivia about what was the first soda on the moon (if I recall correctly). But whatever was going on in its head you would only see him for brief flashes. Then he would shut down again. I recall the trivia question because it was the first time I kind of saw his face light up when he answered it. But I couldn't get him talking on it at all after.

My friend Isaiah try it a bit too.

 Isaiah and I hung out quite a bit and probably rubbed on of the nurses wrong for what ever reason. Marina was actually a quality nurse and funny as hell. it just took some warming up and a little bit of time to see eye to eye.

About a week and a half after I met him jolt started ECT.

His routine was something like every other day for the first week if I recall correctly. Like I said he usually made a brief appearance for one to three groups in the day and then otherwise was in his room. the ECT treatments were done in the morning they would wheel him away on his bed and wheel him back.

What was incredible is the day of his second treatment. I was sitting out in the common area and all of a sudden he wants an atlas.

And he said this to me we should get an atlas

So I asked him why. 

He wanted to look up Russia.

That might sound benign or like nothing. But it was the first time I have seen him engage anyone in conversation or make his needs or wants known without someone trying to pry it out of him in a group. 

So we went to the book cupboard and got an atlas. CentraCares library had an Atlas that just narrowly escaped Russia still being labeled USSR.. they also have a dictionary where stool is defined as Dr Jon Bower. 

Jolt paged through the atlas until he found Russia. Then he said he was feeling kind of tired and returned to his room. But not before he also asked for a piece of candy one staff member was handing out. I bit my tongue but I thought it was a real joke they call it patient-centered care and neglected to notice that jolt who normally asks for nothing was actually interested in something and then denied it to him anyway. That's neither here nor there but it was pretty s*****. Synergistic care would never be perfect but from how that guy was to how he changed and in line with cortical thickening and rewarding positive behaviors.. Jolt should have been given a piece of f****** candy. I digress.

What I noticed the next or maybe a day later is he started walking the hallways with me, other patients and sometimes on his own.

Two more treatments later and all of a sudden after you ask hey how are you doing? He would not only answer but started to ask the return question of 

"how about you?"

Also we finally saw him smile when his S/O came to visit. Which had happened before but it hadn't changed his behavior until after treatment.

He was actually pretty cool guy. CentraCare forbid and or punished exchange of personal information. They did so in a way that likely violates Minnesota patient rights. But I'm not a lawyer so I can't assert that for sure.

But I'm pretty sure we would have been friends on the outside.

It was also really cool to see that treatment work.

I hope jolt is back home with his family and doing well. 

Actually I call this a success story but I have no idea. I do know that there were quite a few oppertunities missed by CentraCare staff and the dr. I do know the BHTs and nurses for the most part tried really hard but we're also overworked. The place has systemic issues. 

It was still kinda fucked to see that first day with an atlas this programer named Sarah was giving out candy. Jolt wanted a pice of candy after the Atlas but jolt hadn't gone to Sarah's kindergarten level group. Sarah is also the type of woman that looks like she's a quite a bit of candy  so here's this dude that's been in his shell been paranoid shut down reclusive and all the sudden he wants a bit of candy but Sarah just couldn't do it.



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