zeppomarks: (Default)
[personal profile] zeppomarks
I want to say up front that I have a healthy respect for doctors, even ones that seem stupid because they finished medical school and I got thrown out of college after two semesters for a poor GPA and a bad attitude. That being said, I do not take everything they say as gospel. I read articles about what they tell me and research medicine that they prescribe and try and make as informed decisions as I am able.
It is tricky thing to take the advice of someone who has knowledge and experience beyond yours and say, "I don't think what you are telling me is right," and yet here I am.

Paul and I have currently come to a critical point in his care. He has been medicated heavily for over eight years of his life now for chronic debilitating depression. The medicine has made him gain weight, his hands shake, he has constant insomnia, migraines and the build up of chemicals has begun to break down his liver. There other choice side effects that I wont mention here, but they are unpleasant. He takes pills because the alternative is him being functionless to the point of coma or eating the barrel of a gun.
He takes them because no other options were given to us.

And so now he has been informed that his depression is "med-resistant" which we suspected about five years ago. The option now being dangled in front of us is electroshock therapy.
We researched it thoroughly and to be frank - it scares the bejesus out of both of us.
After preening through the driest of medical journals, mind-numbing statistics and ghastly new age hippie sites, we found an alternative that seems oddly appropriate and at the same time utterly insane.

In a few months we are flying to Iquitos, Peru and taking the Ayahuasca.
And so I, a person with a fair amount of common sense and a reasonable amount of intelligence is leaving her husband's care to a shirtless Shaman deep in the Amazonian jungle who will blow smoke in our faces and sing after we drink a horrible brown liquid, begin to hallucinate and vomit furiously into a bucket courteously provided.
I am honestly terrified at the prospect but it scares me less than doctors anesthetizing Paul on a table and shocking his brain until he has a seizure. The main side effect is memory loss which they claim often returns in a month or so.
The only reasonable argument I have under my belt for doing this batshit crazy thing is the oldest medicine of the many Paul has been taking is less than twenty years old, they make him sick and uncomfortable, are killing him in incremental amounts and he is STILL depressed.
The Aayhuasca ritual is hundreds and hundreds of years old, there is some research backing up relief from depressive symptoms and there is no record I could find of anyone ever dying from taking it.

A homeless guy who lived under a bridge once told me once that at the crossroads of insanity and desperation is the bar where the devil drinks. Clearly he had been to that bar and I feel strangely as if I have just pulled up a stool and asked for the "special."
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Date: 2010-09-14 05:45 pm (UTC)
ext_35267: (Heart's Desire)
From: [identity profile] wlotus.livejournal.com
I sincerely hope this works for you two. I cannot imagine the horror you've been through, thus far.

Date: 2010-09-14 09:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zeppo.livejournal.com
I wouldn't call it horror really, as even on his worst days he is still a doll. I just hate him being in nine kinds of pain and not being able to stop it. I thank you so much for you good wishes!

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Date: 2010-09-14 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] superactiongo.livejournal.com
Not to be a stickler, but for the sake of medical accuracy, it's electro-convulsive therapy. You are now standing over my shoulder laughing at me for typing this.

Date: 2010-09-14 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] karma-aster.livejournal.com
I'll also point out that my Dad is an anestheologist, and one of the things that he's trained to anesthesize patients for is ECT. It's really VERY different than what you saw in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and what you see in television and movies now is still a pretty inaccurate portrayal of the proceedure.

It has saved lives in the case of severe, medication-resistant depression.

But, yeah, you've got to make your own choices about medical treatment. And I can certainly understand why ECT scares the crap outta people. It's definately got a fairly freaky history.

Whatever path you take, good luck and I hope it all works out for the best for the both of you. I know from personal experience that depression is NOT an easy thing to deal with. I can't imagine how I'd handle it if the meds didn't work.

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Date: 2010-09-14 06:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lemon-says.livejournal.com
I hope it works, and wish you the best. I've read about the recent EC therapies, and it does sound frightening. I know it works for many, and as you know, desperation will make you try anything. Hell, acupuncture cured my dad's incurable disease. Go for it.

Date: 2010-09-14 10:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zeppo.livejournal.com
It is really the memory loss with ECT that gives us pause.
So if nothing happens with the Amazonian medicine, well we will come back and give it a try.
We just want to exhaust all options first.

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Date: 2010-09-14 06:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heathrow.livejournal.com
I wish you both the best. I hope Paul can get some relief from the depression. Your marriage is long and very deep, and I know it can survive this.

Date: 2010-09-14 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zeppo.livejournal.com
Well to be honest we have survived worse, so I guess our hallucinating and puking in a bucket together can only bring us closer. :)

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Date: 2010-09-14 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lolliejean.livejournal.com
I'm sending the super strength healing mojo your way and believing for a cure for Paul. If you have to go to the Amazonian jungle to find it then that's what you have to do. xo

Date: 2010-09-14 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jourdannex.livejournal.com
I am with Lori on this...sending you so much love and strength right now, because we do what we have to do for those we love.

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Date: 2010-09-14 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crazybone.livejournal.com
Normally I'm of an agnostic bent but at times I find this phrase of use. "God be between you and harm in all the empty places where you must walk."
I hope everything turns out well.

Date: 2010-09-14 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zeppo.livejournal.com
I have never heard that phrase and it is fucking majestic - thank you so much.

Date: 2010-09-14 06:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anarqueso.livejournal.com
I have an LJ acquaintance who's spent a ton of time in S. America learning about and taking ayahusca. I believe her practice continues in her home country. If it would be helpful to you, I can ask if she'd be willing to answer questions.

Date: 2010-09-14 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zeppo.livejournal.com
I have spoken to a couple of people who have taken it, they both recommend the experience highly. One of them was in the same boat as Paul, a life time of depression, pills upon pills and when she came back, she never took another drug and it has been five years for her. If you want to send them my way that would be brilliant. I feel like I want to walk into the heart of darkness informed.

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From: [identity profile] anarqueso.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-09-15 12:19 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-09-14 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesliepear.livejournal.com
Good luck, I hope it helps.

Date: 2010-09-14 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zeppo.livejournal.com
Thank you! Expect a full report.

Date: 2010-09-14 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] travellight.livejournal.com
Why are you drinking the liquid, hallucinating, and vomiting in the bucket?

Date: 2010-09-14 07:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] travellight.livejournal.com
Mind you, I have fluid sucked out of my spinal canal to keep my head from hurting, so I'd be down with it.

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Date: 2010-09-14 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lothie.livejournal.com
I'm thinking of you.

Date: 2010-09-14 10:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zeppo.livejournal.com
Thank you maam!
Expect a full accounting of events

Date: 2010-09-14 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pastilla.livejournal.com

Sorry you have to go through this.

There's so much power, prestige and money to be made by doctors, the whole profession is dominated by materialistic megalomaniacs . . . they become so used to people treating them like gods they seem to actually believe they are deities . . . or perhaps they already are like that before medical school.

Yes, I'm bitter. But it's based on experience. Maybe in the Amazon you'll meet human beings who actually care about their patients instead of being so focused on their fancy homes, cars, and vacations.

Date: 2010-09-14 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zeppo.livejournal.com
Actually I am strangely hopeful about wandering into the heart of darkness.
Thank you

Date: 2010-09-14 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mangofandango.livejournal.com
Good luck! I hope it works wonders.

Date: 2010-09-14 10:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zeppo.livejournal.com
I hope it does too and if it doesn't well I have a hell of a story to tell when I get back. :)

Date: 2010-09-15 12:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gordonzola.livejournal.com
wow. good luck. Seriously, I hope this works out.

Date: 2010-09-15 01:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aelf.livejournal.com
I am full of hope for the success of this plan. Sometimes, you have to try something wild and crazy. :) Eat cake for breakfast, puke in a bucket in the Amazon!

Date: 2010-09-15 01:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glamazonwarrior.livejournal.com
Good luck. I'm glad you know people who've gone through it, so that you can perhaps get useful info on that preparation period.

Date: 2010-09-15 02:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jason0x21.livejournal.com
As much magic as an atheist skeptic can muster will be sent your way directly. You and Paul both have whatever our analog is for the strongest prayers possible.

Date: 2010-09-15 03:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lorigami.livejournal.com
I wish you both the best. I firmly believe that the traditional ways are still around for good reason.

Date: 2010-09-15 06:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chrissigrl.livejournal.com
As much as I've loved reading about your fascinating life up to this point, I never felt I could offer any comment-worthy feedback besides saying, 'Great post!', which always seemed infinitely lame to me.

But, I finally have something to say besides that. Last year, I went to Peru to participate in filming a documentary about the use of Ayahuasca for treatment of anxiety and depression in Western people (it's not finished yet, but if it were, I would obviously recommend a viewing). "Participating", besides carrying a camera, included participating in 1 san pedro ceremony and 3 ayahuasca ceremonies with a Shaman (he was usually shirted) over the course of 10 days. While my depression isn't debilitating, I wanted to see if there was a way to go about treating it that didn't involve medication.

I won't go into a novella-length description of the experience here, but please feel free to ask anything about the experience, from the taste of the drink (it's color is actually closer to olive green, depending on freshness) to the profuse vomiting (which can very from the "From both ends" variety one of my crew members experienced, to myself, who did not vomit AT ALL (because, as my shaman told me- well, his translator told me, I do not speak Quechua- "The purge is all in your mind"). My experience was definitely a mixed one; some of it was amazing, and some of it was very bad. But I don't regret the experience.

There is also a pre-cleanse diet you should follow prior to your visit, if you can. I wish you the best of luck, and at the very least, I can guarantee that you won't regret your journey.

Date: 2010-09-15 08:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] superactiongo.livejournal.com
I wouldn't mind reading a novella if you don't mind writing one. We've both done a lot of research into it, but personal experiences are sort of the best to hear about, I think. Especially with something like this.

Date: 2010-09-15 06:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] substitute.livejournal.com
I wish you both success. Intractable depression is a horrific mess.

I'm a science guy and have no love for most "alternative" treatments, but it's clear we have almost no idea what's going on with depression. I think you're doing the right thing.

Anyone who knows what the bottom of depression feels like is likely to agree.


Date: 2010-09-15 12:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wonderbink.livejournal.com
I recently read about some research involving psilocybin as a treatment for depression. The results were apparently encouraging.

I know in my own case, I think I may have self-medicated without even realizing it--I took shrooms a few years ago (first and only time) and not long after I gave up antidepressants for Lent. I haven't been back since.

(There were some messy side effects--a panic attack that hit me about a day after the dosage and, oh, falling in love with the man who gave me the shrooms, but I think those trade-offs were ultimately worth it.)

Given the severity of Paul's situation, I think he may well need more extreme solutions than what I took. I wish you well on your journey.

Date: 2010-09-15 02:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] geobabe1.livejournal.com
That actually sounds really interesting, and I hope it works for him. Depression is just such an awful disorder, I hope that both of you can get some quality of life back.

Date: 2010-09-15 04:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blackseven.livejournal.com
I have thoughts. They are in general good an on your behalf. They have no scientific merit or use. But have them anyway. Even if I haven't seen or spoken to you guys in a while, your well-being still matters to me a lot.

Also, must hear the story of how it turns out. This sounds like it could be amusing on an epic scale, despite the circumstances leading to it.

Summary: Go You

Date: 2010-09-15 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] luminatte.livejournal.com
i have a lot of faith in the medicines from Peru, I have to say I hope and pray that you have a shaman with extensive experience, a good heart and only good intentions.. That being said, my teacher spent a lot of time there with shamans and shamanas and reports that the people of Peru have very, very big hearts, especially the shamans.

Although I have never done an ayahuasca ceremony, I have been doing ceremony for the last 6 years and I have witnessed and experienced healing on very deep levels which leads me to my faith in the medicine. If it were to be in my life, I would accept it with open arms.

Good luck is an understatement, it will change your life. And it may seem terrible at times, but it is typically for the better when you are able to look back.. as you probably already know from life experience. =)

And you never know.. you may find that you get the message that you need to come back and use ECT.. either way, remember to ask for clarity around the situation. If I may be so bold. And very important - Anything you ask for, always tack on "in a good and gentle way, for my (our) highest good." Ego in these situations is very dangerous... what you *think* is best is not always.

I'll be getting off my soapbox now. Good health and good help to you both.

Date: 2010-09-15 08:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] superactiongo.livejournal.com
>> always tack on "in a good and gentle way, for my (our) highest good."

That is new advice, and taken to heart. Thanks!

Date: 2010-09-15 05:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] k-navit.livejournal.com
I really don't think it sounds any crazier than pills or shock treatment, when you step back and look at it -- the latter in a way have a lot of the credence they have because the mind has replaced/effaced the soul in our culture, and doctors are the new priests to the extent that anyone takes the "intangible substance" of mind/spirit/soul/whatever into account. i say this as someone who has been many many rounds with the psych profession, and also as someone who does not believe that hugging a tree/licking a rose quartz/visualizing world peace/thinking positive thoughts is, by itself, an appropriate response to problems that do have a physiological aspect (not to dismiss non-medical-paradigm stuff out of hand, but just to say that I do think medical care has a role and people who refuse it in favor of whatever flavor of Positive Thinking are idiots. Having said that, imo people who never critically examine the medical, brain-based paradigms and their limitations are also idiots.)

good luck. I don't blame you one bit.

Date: 2010-09-15 07:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] woodwhat.livejournal.com
I read an interesting article about the therapeutic use of LSD back in the olden-golden days of Hollywood, so I've been thinking about hallucinogens lately. I am so looking forward to hearing about your journey, and I am hopeful for you guys. Bottoms up!
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